The Illusion of Safety

As human beings, we’re taught at an early age how to keep ourselves safe. Safe from injury. Safe from harm. There is equipment specifically designed to fulfill our need for safety. What we’re not taught is how to keep our hearts safe from harm.

The world is shifting. There is more evil and corruption than ever before. We live in a completely self-centric society where everyone is out for themselves. Chivalry is dying a slow, painful death. And the act of courtship has been put online and automated so seamlessly that deception is the most common denominator.

I thought I was finally safe. I thought I’d found something special. Being loved makes you bulletproof and I was invincible. Each day was better than the one before. My feet hardly touched the ground. He said “I love you” first. He called me “Babe” after our first phone conversation. He said I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. I believed all of it. He couldn’t wait to introduce me to all of his friends, his daughter, his Dad… I felt so cherished & adored. But most of all, he made me feel safe.

It’s difficult for me to trust after everything I’ve been through. Although I try not to carry too much of the past with me, I’ve found that my willingness to trust becomes increasingly difficult with each new suitor. Somehow, this time, I trusted way too easily.

Everything since October 4th feels like a lie. I find it difficult to imagine that someone can go from “I’m going to marry you,” and “I love you so much,” to breaking up with you via a photo text of everything left behind and the gifts you gave in a hamper. This is the kind of behavior exhibited only by someone who despises you. There was no logical reason for that.

I honestly thought I was being Punk’d.

However, that was all I got… at first. Almost an hour later, after I pressed him for answers, I received a long, rambling, extremely formal-toned text, full of excuses and finality. To say that I was in shock would be an understatement.

As luck would have it, I ran into him less than 14 hours later. He was at a bar, knocking back as much liquor as he could get his hands on, flanked by two unspeakably plain blondes.

As I approached, I made a fist. Then I remembered what a complete failure I am at making a decent fist. But as drew nearer, I noticed that instead of the adrenaline rush I thought I’d feel, I was completely calm. This alone surprised me. He looked homeless, downtrodden, out-of-place… not the person I once knew.

I grabbed a fistful of long grey hair from the back of his neck. His head went straight back as he spun to face me. “Hi!” I said. “What happened? What is wrong with you?” I said a number of other things that are now a blur of unanswered questions. I wanted answers, I needed answers and moreover, I deserved them.

He couldn’t look me in the eye. He just kept repeating “Babe, Babe, Babe” as if he was unable to form sentences. This went on for what seemed like an eternity, although it may have lasted about 6 minutes.

I’m grateful for this encounter. I was out with great friends, dressed to slay, and I’d just finished hearing a few friends play a gig right down the street that had me smiling ear to ear. I was prepared for a run-in, even though it was the furthest thing from my mind. Seeing him this way made everything easier. I saw all the lies come to life right before my eyes.

It was like giving a toddler an inquisition. There was much squirming, more lying and a little side-stepping in an attempt to get away. When I realized asking questions was pointless, I let him slither away. I may never know exactly what happened, but seeing this display made me acutely aware that I had no idea who I’d just spent the last month with.

I think ideally, you want to date someone who doesn’t leave you thinking, “What the hell just happened?”

This is what scares me the most. I let this stranger so far into my world that I began to see a future with him. I believed all of his lies. I allowed myself to get attached. He was my safe place, my ally, my comfort zone. I trusted him.

I was bamboozled to a degree I’d never known.

Maybe he’s not over his ex. Maybe he has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Maybe he knew deep down that he could never live up to the expectations he’d set for himself. I have no idea what would make someone who claimed to love me more each day cut me loose in such a cold, calculated way. Maybe I’ll never know.

Safety is a myth. Nothing is guaranteed. Even good things may be exactly the opposite of what they seem. Sociopaths, psychopaths, charmers and manipulators exist. Knowing how to spot them is half the battle.

If you feel you have a sociopath, charmer, manipulator, or psychopath in your life, go here. The site contains resources that may be helpful to you. It was started by Jackson MacKenzie, the author of Psychopath Free.

 

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Vegas Love Story

I was only home a few days when news of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas broke. Amid the many rumors, it was reported that the music festival I attended was considered as a previous target. This made my blood run cold. The stage that I called home for 2 straight days was his intended target. I can’t even imagine.

The Life Is Beautiful festival became a special part of my life in 2015, when I attended by myself. The lineup was INSANE!

Life-is-Beautiful-Festival-2015-Lineup

One night when I was checking the tour schedule for Twenty-One Pilots, I ended up on the Life Is Beautiful website. Within a few days, I’d spoken to a friend who lives there and purchased airfare/hotel for myself. He worked at one of the casinos on the strip and told me he’d be able to get a handful of tickets.

Two days before my trip, he became unreachable. When I arrived in Las Vegas, there was no one to greet me. Luckily, another friend saw my Facebook post and just happened to be in Vegas attending a business convention. He was kind enough to pick me up and take me to dinner while I began to sort things out. Long story short, I was able to hang out with him during non-festival hours and met some concertgoers from Utah who hung out with me a bit during the festival. The friend I’d originally planned to see never connected with me.

I’d come down with a cold the day before I left, which only got worse as the festival went on. I’m still mad at myself for missing most of the bands I came to see, but that couldn’t be helped. I did, however, get to ride the zip-line which encompasses most of Freemont Street.

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We’re such tourists. I like this photo because you can’t tell I’m deathly ill. I must have taken SO MUCH COLD MEDICINE that weekend. And in my excited state when I was purchasing airline tickets, I didn’t realize that my departure date and time would cut the festival short. Thankfully, I had the chance to return 2 years later.

I did, however, get to see X-Ambassadors, Awolnation, Lindsey Stirling, Weezer, and Big Data. I was also there when The Killers made a surprise appearance as part of Brandon Flowers’ solo set. I saw Rosario Dawson’s talk from the second row (I love her) and stumbled right into the Duran Duran Q & A by accident when I was attempting to leave, take medicine and get some sleep.

By the last day of the concert, my Utah friends were nowhere to be found. I ran into one of them when I was leaving who said they’d all caught a cold. Ooops… I never told her that I was the culprit.

This year, I made my friend Bill go with me. This was the lineup.

LIB-Lineup-2017

Okay, you’re right, he was pretty stoked to go. And he’s an ex-military GIANT, so I felt the safest I’ve ever been.

The night we arrived we met and befriended Zowie Bowie, apparently the best cover band in Las Vegas. I inadvertently picked up the keyboard player, who was a total sweetheart. It’s nice to talk to someone who has so much in common with you when you’re so far from home.

The next 2 days were spent sequestered at the front of the main stage. (At least for me they were. Poor Bill had to take breaks from all of that standing and being pushed up against by thousands of our closest millennial friends.)

After I got to see Muse from the front row (which was the pinnacle of my concert journey), I decided it was time to relinquish my spot. The third day Bill & I roamed around trying to do everything we’d missed the 2 days before. By about 9:30pm, I’d learned that perhaps 3 days is a little much. I passed out well before MGMT and The Gorillaz made it to the stage.

But my point…

My love affair with Vegas began ironically when I was abandoned by my friend who lives there. I was welcomed by every concertgoer I met with open arms. Everywhere I went, I befriended someone new. I never met a stranger.

I remember standing in the middle of the crowd, watching Awolnation and thinking how amazing it all was. There was no place on earth I would rather have been at that moment. Everyone around me was smiling and enjoying the music… just like me. They loved the band… just like me. The whole atmosphere was so positive and peaceful. It was my musical Utopia.

When I went back, 2 years later, it was exactly the same. Everyone was amazing. Total strangers would make a point to compliment me and each other. We were all connected by the same thread… the music.

And it was beautiful.

I’ve attached my favorite images from the experience. Enjoy!

Trial & Error

I’m sure you’ve been on pins and needles wondering how my date went. Right?
Yeah, I didn’t think so, but I’m gonna tell you anyway.

That particular date, and the few that followed have gone extremely well. We met for drinks last Friday, talked non-stop, had dinner and drinks that Sunday, he cooked me a HelloFresh dinner on Wednesday, we went to the Greek Festival on Friday and we played with Baby goats at a local farm and tasted mead on Sunday. He’s very pleasant company… and extremely interesting. However, I’m just not that into him. 😦

Side Note: I read that book a long time ago when “ghosting” first became the norm. Looking back, I can’t believe I thought I needed a book to help me crack the guy code. If they were any more transparent, they’d be windows.

Looking back on the lists I gave my matchmaker (the list of desirable qualities and the list of deal-breakers) I can totally understand why this guy was selected. He’s done some stuff. He’s lived. And he’s a RockStar at his very interesting and technical job (Drone Scientist). At 39, he’s been married, lived all over the country, has 3 kids, was a “Boylesque” (think male burlesque) dancer, a roller derby racer (evidently they let guys do that too in some places), does Crossfit and is excited about his upcoming participation in the Spartan Race. This seems to only be the tip of the iceberg. When I told her I wanted to meet someone “Interesting,” she hit the nail on the head.

Problem is, I’m starting to wonder how much of this crazy narrative is actually true.

Of course there’s more. I only find myself physically attracted to him after I’ve had a few cocktails. This is probably the biggest issue. And although I owe him nothing, I feel awful about it. While he sends me texts saying “I think you are amazing” I’m on the other end, full of doubt and fear.

Last night I told him he was sweet, because he is. This was his response, “Sweet is good… but what about sexy?” I froze. For a second I thought about what I found sexy… what people I found sexy and why. It occurred to me that when a guy referred to me as sexy, he clearly wanted to have sex with me. I was so far away from that thought, I had no idea how to respond.

I had a panic attack the day we’d planned to go to the Greek Festival. I felt suffocated and couldn’t slow my heartbeat no matter how I tried. But I let him pick me up regardless, because he was so excited to go.

I noticed that after I got in the car, when I said anything, he would either try to finish my sentences or talk over me. It was like he was so nervous around me that he needed Ritalin. It was exhausting and I’d already had a tiring week. I tried to explain what was going on in my head, but all that came out was, “Sometimes, you’re a bit much.” I immediately beat myself up internally for being such a bitch.

He sends me a thank you text after every date and wants to spend more time with me than I have. It isn’t long after one date ends that he starts asking for another. Then the panic sets in. It struck me that if I was as enthusiastic about him as he was about me, this wouldn’t be problematic.

It hasn’t been long, but after the first weekend, I began to question myself. I think it’s important when you’re uncomfortable in any situation to ask yourself why… and what you can do about it.

That first weekend, he texted me NON-STOP… so much so that everything I did was interrupted, if not spoiled by the constant messaging. I started to feel the walls closing in. By that Monday, I didn’t want to be around people at all. I told him “the constant texting is problematic.” He slowed it to a crawl. It was a few days before I felt comforable again.

I couldn’t sleep last night and today I’m having another panic attack. I’m finally hearing what my body is telling me. It always sucks when you know you’re going to hurt someone, but it’s always better to rip off the band-aid quickly and just be honest. Even though the message is unpleasant, the receiver will respect you more for being forthcoming.

In this process I asked myself the toughest question of all, “Is it me?” “Is there something wrong with me?” I’m sure the list is long, but most likely a lot shorter than most. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with me, and I think that’s the crux of it. I don’t need a guy. If I meet someone who complements or adds to my life, THAT‘s when I’ll know it’s right. It’s not selfish to do what you need to do for yourself.

So I will.

(to be continued)

To Match or Not to Match

Tonight is the night I’ll be meeting my very first matchmaker match. Since I’ve had fantastic luck plucking every clingy, needy, insecure man child out from under his current rock and ZERO finding what I actually need, I’m curious to see what my matchmaker has in store. A wise person once told me that you know exactly what your friends think of you judging by the people they choose to set you up with. I think there’s a reason those closest to me have never attempted a set-up. We’re all of the same mindset. We’re not fans of failure and we’ve seen each other through way too many heartbreaks to trust that anyone will be good enough.

To the contrary, I’ve had MANY acquaintances attempt to set me up with criminals, braggarts, misogynists, damaged co-dependents, and assorted ambition-less man-children.

Funny side-note: I did have one person actually try to set me up with Edwin McCain. Although I’ve never met him, I’m sure he’s quite lovely. At the time, I just didn’t trust my acquaintance to have my best interests at heart and thought perhaps she was lying. 

And because I’m cursed, it is Seattle-raining and chilly, which negates all previous wardrobe choices. I had a makeup job this morning at 6AM for Fox Business, so I’m abnormally sleep-deprived and jacked up on Starbucks. I’m also wearing FIVE different eye creams layered on top of each other. Even my eye cream is wearing eye cream. The guest this morning was male, so I had my male makeup kit with me. (It’s MUCH smaller than the female one.) The skin care products in this kit are standouts from the Kiehl’s Men’s line. (I keep a de-puffer and caffeinated eye cream handy because men usually don’t know the difference AND NEED IT.) I’m surprised to say that my fifth eye cream layer is the MEN’s eye cream and there’s a good chance it works better than the rest. (Yes, Kiehl’s, I’d like my commission check now please.)

As usual, work is starting to pick up, but I got in early and pony-tailed since I’m waiting to date-shower when I leave work early. (Yes, a date shower is a thing.) I’ll lather up with a few layers of anti-frizz, a light spritz of smell-good and be out the door before I know it.

Fingers-crossed that he’s not Jabba the Hutt and Catfishing us all.

 

Another Journey Around the Sun

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends old and new. Luckily, having so much going on, I had no time to think about myself actually growing older (and closer to my scary age… yes, everyone has one…)

Friday night I had a date. In an earlier post, I’d mentioned flinging myself back into the dating pool by way of matchmaker. It had been so long since I’d hired her, I’d begun to think she’d given up on finding anyone suitable in my area for me. Ironically, on the day she called to tell me she’d scheduled a date, I had just begun to look around online. It was mostly out of curiosity… and entertainment. But I also wanted to get a preview of what was out there. I found myself mostly swiping left, with very few exceptions.

The original matchmaker date never happened. She explained that as the time drew near, he began acting shady, so she canceled it. I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t take it too personally since he had no idea who I was.

In the meantime, I had this new app. And it was full off possibilities. (Yes, that was sarcasm) After a few conversations, I realized that the chances of meeting any of these guys in real life were slim. When one canceled our date almost immediately after scheduling it, I was beginning to get a complex. His excuse was that his father (who was 4 hours away) had an accident. I never heard from him again.

A few days later I opened the app to find several guys missing. One disappeared after I mentioned meeting in person. Another deleted his profile completely. One I’d spoken with the first day was gone. Lastly, one (who had been messaging constantly) told me that he was going to see things through with someone else. This honesty was refreshing.

One guy HAD to talk to me on the phone right away. He told me right off the bat that he preferred talking instead of text. I just figured he was old school. We met on Friday and had a great date. The next day he made a point of telling me that he had originally made a date with someone else for Sunday, but was going to cancel since he was so interested in me. The gravity of that gesture didn’t register right away.

He called me when he got home from our date. He called me the next morning when I was getting ready for goat yoga with my friends. He texted to see if I could talk when I was on my way home from brunch. I wasn’t sure I’d ever had a person want to talk to me this much. I was starting to feel panicked and claustrophobic.

Contractors were in and out of my house working the entire weekend, which meant that a nap or alone time wasn’t going to happen. A friend brought me lunch. A few other friends asked where I’d be that night since they wanted to wish me a happy birthday. There were people around or communicating with me most of the day and on into the evening. Was there time for multiple phone calls just to talk? No way! Yet I found myself talking to him at least 4 times before going out that evening. I even missed one of his calls.

Although all the red flags, bells and alerts were flashing in my head, I found myself taking calls and making apologies. There I was again, making myself miserable in order to make someone else happy. At least this time I recognized it.

Sunday, I tried with zero success to relax as my house full of contractors sawed and hammered. That evening, my friend JD came by and helped me automate my home with a gift of smart bulbs. It took a while to get everything set up and working, so I ran out and got dinner for us. While we were eating, “first date guy” sent a “Sleep Well” text that buzzed on my Apple watch. My phone was charging in the back room and I was having dinner with JD, so I didn’t respond. ONLY TEN MINUTES LATER I received the following:

Patrick

I’m not sure why this surprised me. He had spent the entire weekend showing me who he was. It was my birthday. I was busy and surrounded by people the entire weekend, yet this asshat felt that there was nothing and no one more important than him. After no response from me, the next day, he texted an apology. I have no plans to respond.

On the other hand, it’s good to be reminded every once in a while what you don’t want. But it’s way more awesome to be reminded each year how much the people in your life love you.

Saturday when I was out catching a friend’s band perform, my ex boyfriend from the late 1990’s dropped in to wish me a happy birthday. He makes a point of remembering me every year.

I spent the evening with Erika (who incidentally has the exact same birthday) and Kat, listening to music, being complete goofballs, and running into half the population of our city. We ended the night at a gay bar, where Kat promptly stole my phone and left me with these little gems.

We ran into Bill, who instantly became our bodyguard and bouncer. Then we found the prettiest and most fabulous drag queen in the cabaret show.

Told ya.

The next day I received a text from my friend whose band we’d seen the previous night. He told me he was writing a duet for us. He’s a BRILLIANT singer and songwriter, so I’m over the moon that he’s so psyched to work with me. A few minutes later, my friend Allison (who lives 3 hours away) called and sang me Happy Birthday. Ending the evening nerding out with JD was exactly what I needed. I’m not sure he realizes exactly how much I appreciated the visit.

All things considered, it was a good birthday. I was surrounded by people who love me, look after me, and let me be me.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Doris Day & The Secret Perils of Children’s Books

Last night my parents took me to dinner for my birthday. We do this every year and they always ask if it can be early since I usually have a lot of activities planned with my friends on the actual day. This year we’re planning to do Goat Yoga.

After dinner, we went back to my parents’ house and they began regaling me with stories from my childhood. My parents are some of the greatest people on the planet. Dad is one of those “salt of the earth” guys who can build a house from the ground up… and has. He’s a retired fireman who goes to lunch every week with his friends who call themselves the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out). He comes from a family of twelve in which he was the seventh and last son.

Mom is a retired government worker who spent a lot of time crunching numbers for the US Geological Survey, Department of Agriculture and various other government agencies. She’s one of those people who did exactly what she was told and never sought whatever lingered “outside the box.” She’ll fight you for a slice of cake or cream-filled doughnut and she’ll talk your ears off, sometimes repeating herself.

One day when Dad was picking Mom up from work, he took me to the mall beforehand. When we walked by K&K Toys, I saw a stuffed Saint Bernard complete with plastic brandy keg. I was a toddler, so he was GIGANTIC in relation to me, and is still the largest stuffed animal I’ve owned. I proceeded to wrap my arms around his neck and sit on the floor with him. When he saw that, Dad purchased him and on we went to pick up Mom with this “new pet” that dwarfed me. Mom didn’t quite know what to think.

Evidently, I had a habit of doing things like that. This is how my parents came to acquire Doris Day. Doris Day is a statue of a female Buddha. When my parents were out shopping for furniture to put in their new house, I wandered off and found this statue, wrapped my arms around it and exclaimed “DORIS DAY!” At the time, there was a TV show that starred Doris Day. In it she wore her hair on top of her head, much like the statue. Although the statue in no way actually resembled her, my parents thought that was so cute and funny that they purchased it. It is still in their formal dining room to this day.

Doris Day

Doris Day

Also in the formal dining room sits a doll that my Dad brought back from Korea. One of Mom’s co-workers had asked if he could bring back a doll for her child. Not truly comprehending that she wanted a toy baby doll, he came home with this…

The Scary Geisha Doll

The Scary Geisha Doll

For most of my childhood, this doll sat in my Mom’s sewing room. I didn’t think anything of it and hardly noticed it until…

As part of a program to encourage kids to read, we were given a catalog from which we could order books that we liked. Mom would give me the catalog and I would select a few books. For some reason, I chose a book that haunted me most of my formative years. It featured a Geisha who would grow long nails and kill people. The book was illustrated vibrantly and written for children (which is surprising given the whole death & killing thing). I have no idea what the name of the book was, but I clearly remember thinking after I’d read it that Mom’s doll was going to come to life, her fingernails would grow long and she’d kill us all. This “phase” in my life probably lasted a whole lot longer than it should.

Last night after seeing the doll again when I was checking out Doris Day, I told my parents. They were shocked. Mom thought she remembered the book, but had no idea the graphic content it contained. She also had no idea that I wasn’t fond of the doll and never wanted to be in the same room as it. Dad just chuckled.