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Saturday, May 28, 2016

I'm Nobody : How I met my husband

I wanted to try singing karaoke. I was terrified to sing solo in front of people, even though I was pretty sure I had a good voice. My friend Jennifer told me she often went to this little bar where they had a great karaoke DJ. "No stage, you can even sing sitting down if you want. Everybody's drunk, they'll clap and cheer no matter what." So we went, and I sang. First one was awful, then I sort of got the hang of it. Finding songs in the right key for my soprano voice is the tricky part; I'm a rocker not a country singer. I loved it and made up my mind I'd come back.

After singing a few, we sat and talked. Out of the blue Jennifer shouts, "Hey, Shin!" I turned around and beheld a handsome Asian man with long silvery hair and a pirate's grin who had just come in the door. He waved back. I didn't notice the wheelchair until he was halfway across the room.

"Damn, he's cute," I said to her. "Shame about the wheelchair."

"Oh, he can still do it," she commented casually. My jaw dropped. "Hey, you want to meet him? I've know him for years."

"Sure," I managed to reply.

"We'll let him shoot some pool and sing a song or two and then I'll invite him over for a beer."

While we continued talking and drinking, I kept an eye on him. He was very good at pool - kept winning. I suck at pool but enjoy watching it. Then the DJ called him over, and he sang Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind" in a clear baritone. Not a country fan myself, I do like Willie, and that song.

After he was done, Jennifer called him over and bought him a beer. He was funny, charming, and had an interesting accent. He also had my attractiveness trifecta: a beautiful mouth, kind eyes, and big strong hands. He also had very nice shoulders and gorgeous hair. He was easy to talk to and actually got my jokes. I had a great time.

Monday, May 16, 2016

I'm Nobody: My First Love, such as it was

Mourning my husband has led me to thinking about past relationships. I've been in love a few times, or thought I was. My relationships just don't last that long. I'm not going to enumerate all the assorted dates and crushes, but I want to analyze the times I really thought I was in love.

First love, age 24, the one I lost my virginity to. If you think that's late, hey, it was Kansas in the 1970s and I had been raised a churchgoer. I was holding out for True Love, although not necessarily for my wedding night. Now you'll really laugh. He was 29 and also a virgin. Both of us lived with our parents. That was also not unusual for that time and place. Most young women lived with their parents until they got married. He worked for pay on his father's farm, so it wasn't like he was freeloading.

Not going to use real names here; I'll call him Keith. we met at the church we both went to. He had been dating a friend of mine, but she dumped him. We had been at some church do at my parents' house, and everyone had left but myself, Janet (who lived with us), Keith, and another guy. Somehow, Janet and the other guy wound up making out in the living room, while Keith and I sat in the dining room by the fireplace and talked. For hours. Not long after, he called me for a date and we started going out.

At first we seemed very compatible. He was easy to talk to, and we had our Kansas backgrounds and church in common. I felt like this was probably The One. So I set about losing my virginity. I had no clue how to seduce someone, but I really wanted to. Each makeout session, I let it go a little farther - until I scared myself and called a halt. To his credit, he stopped when I wanted him to. The first time we went "all the way" it was plain mortifying for both of us, since neither of us knew what we were doing. We learned by practice, like everyone does. It got good. Very good. We could barely keep out hands off each other.

My life has a sound track. At the beginning of this relationship, the chorus of Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New England" really fit:
And tell me, when will our eyes meet?
When can I touch you?
When will this strong yearning end?
And when will I hold you again
He had two habits that I hated. One was smoking cigarettes. My parents both smoked heavily and the smell always choked me. Kissing someone who smokes is just plain disgusting. Tastes just like a dirty ashtray smells. The other habit was smoking pot. I never did drugs, never saw the point. The danger seemed to be so much greater than any possible enjoyment. So I asked him if he would just not smoke either one around me. He agreed. He did try to get me to smoke pot, but I just wasn't interested. Frankly, I've had enough trouble with my lungs; I had no urge to deliberately inhale foreign substances.

Things were good between us for a while. We had a lot of fun. We went out regularly, usually every weekend, and he called me every day - which I thought was too much because he'd run out of things to say and then just stay on the line silently. I always had to say, "Well, I've got things to do, goodbye." Sometimes I wondered, if I was really in love with him, wouldn't I want to stay on the line just listening to each other breathe? But I found it irritating.

Then he started this really lame mind game. Every couple months after we'd gone out and had a good time, he'd tell me that 'we shouldn't see each other for a while' because he had 'things he needed to work out.' Weirdly, he kept calling me every day after one of these pronouncements, and we'd go out on schedule the next weekend. I couldn't figure out what he was trying to do.

Finally, after one very romantic date, we were sitting on the porch and he turned to me with a tender smile like he was going to kiss me, and announced, "We shouldn't see each other for a while. I have some things to work out."

It was like someone threw cold water on me. Suddenly, I was looking at a stranger, and not a particularly attractive one. Then he admitted he'd been high on nearly all of our dates and was high right then, and found it funny that I couldn't tell. I don't remember the rest of the conversation. I was shocked and confused, as it had never occurred to me a person could fall out of love instantly like that.

Of course he called me the next day. This time I told him that I didn't know how not seeing each other was going to help him work his things out if he was going to call me every day. I asked him to call me after he got done. He actually skipped calling for a few days, and I was startled at how relieved I was. Then he called to set up that weekend's date like always. I asked him if he had worked out everything he needed to. Carelessly he replied that he had, as though he'd forgotten all about that. So we went out.

I felt nothing for him. I thought maybe I was just still angry. I thought the feeling would come back. It didn't. We went out for another couple of months, and finally I admitted to myself the feeling wasn't coming back and I really didn't want to see him anymore. Without the feeling, I started noticing a lot of things I hadn't picked up on. He really wasn't very bright, and had no ambition whatsoever. When I talked about my writing, he'd always say, "I could write a book." Yeah, right.

Very gently I broke up with him. His reaction was "But - but I love you!" He hadn't said that to me in months and months. I stood firm. For the next five years he'd call me every few months and ask me out. I always refused. Finally he stopped. Was he really in love with me? Maybe, but he didn't understand me, and he certainly didn't respect me. Was I really in love with him? It felt like it at the time. It might have simply been the right time but the wrong man. Or maybe I was just in love with the idea of being in love.

Many years later, I heard about him through a mutual friend. All he did was smoke pot. He'd rent a cheap apartment and work at a meaningless job until he'd accumulated enough money to live on for a while, then he'd quit the job, stay home, and smoke pot until he ran out of money. Man, did I dodge a bullet!

And at the end, these lyrics fit: Bob Dylan, "Don't think twice"
So long honey baby
Where I'm bound, I cannot tell
But goodbye's too good a word, gal
So I'll just kinda say "Fare thee well"
Now I'm not saying that you treated me unkind
You could have done a lot better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right

Friday, May 13, 2016

I'm Nobody: What passed for my love life

I have figured out that as far as relationships, I'm good for about two years. I was married for ten (he died) but I recently realized that the only really great years were the year we lived together and the first year we were married. Then he made his big mistake, and I stupidly forgave him for it. But once trust is broken you can glue it back together, but it's never the same again. He kept making smaller versions of the mistake, and while I never stopped loving him, I trusted him less and less. And with the trust, a little of the love went too.

I dearly wish we could have been a team. I never felt we were after the big mistake. Maybe if he hadn't kept doing it, the trust and love would have healed. I mourn his good qualities, the things I fell in love with him for, and I'm trying to forget the rest. It's hard.

After all these years, one marriage and a lot of boyfriends, the pattern of my relationships has come clear. Some dates were one and done, disinterest on both sides. Others were three dates before the big 'nah.' Sometimes the thing would last a few months. But all the serious relationships lasted about two years.

I seem to be an odd woman. I don't play games or manipulate. I'm straightforward and ask for what I need, though I rarely get it. Even with my late husband, I had to do the whine or the pouty face when I wanted something. I hated that. I hate pulling that fake little-girl crap. I'm smart, independent, self-sufficient, and evidently most men hate that.

I know I never want to be married again. I don't even want a live-in. I like my solitude too much. I would like some occasional companionship, and yes, sex. But the price I'm willing to pay is a LOT less than it used to be.

Once, clear back in college, some class or other had us all figure out what we wanted in life. I wanted to be a good novelist, find a good man to love, and own a home. At that time I thought I could have all three at once; a lot of people do. Well, I've had the man, I'm on the third house. Maybe the rest of my life is going to be for the writing.

Monday, May 9, 2016


This was a hard Mother's Day to get through. 

The force of nature that was my mother, Marjorie E. Sturdy, quietly slipped away to the next life in her sleep early in the morning of March 8, 2015. A very private person who valued her independence above all else, she had been moved to a lovely private foster home eight days earlier, as her condition had worsened enough that she couldn’t be left alone anymore. The women in her family all lived to ripe old ages and didn’t depart until they were good and ready. For her grandmother Wilson, the last straw was not being able to even see colors to match quilt blocks. For Mom, it was not being able to live on her own.

I wanted to take care of her when she grew older, but she would very rarely let me do anything. A true giver, she was always happiest doing things for others, one of those rare Christians who truly sought to follow Christ’s life of service with loving kindness. That wasn’t all there was to her, however. A complex, private woman, she didn’t show her deepest sides to very many outside her family.

She was my rock, my anchor, the very ground beneath my feet. When my imagination soared too high, she was the one who grabbed an ankle and brought me back to earth. I am so lucky that she was my mother.

The world has lost a great lady.