A Laser Just For Me

The other night, right before I went to bed, I saw I had a message blinking and it read, “Go
outside and look in the sky over Main Street”

So, I responded and wrapped myself up in a blanket and headed out to the front porch.

I could see a beautiful moon, the Big Dipper and the North Star in this incredibly crisp and cloudless night sky.  Although the temperature probably only read somewhere in the 50s, it was just chilly enough for me to find this happy place of snuggle.

I asked, “What am I looking for? It’s beautiful outside, but, I’m not sure what we are looking at”

In my head, maybe it was this cheesy gesture of “we’re looking at the same moon” or “wish on the North Star”

Which, in its own little quaint way, would have had it’s charm.

But, then I saw this random golden flash.

And I asked, “Is that you?! What is that?”

He asked, “Did you see it?!”

And I laughed.  I saw something-ish.  Not really sure what.

Laughing, he said, “In my head, it was going to be this amazingly brilliant flash of light saying, It’s ME! I’m here!  Thinking of you and saying good night!”

And I couldn’t stop laughing.

Really?laser light

A laser?

And then I decided that perhaps, that might have been the sweetest (albeit dorkiest) good night message anyone had ever sent me.

I sat outside on my patio awhile.  It wasn’t really cold compared to most ‘cold’ standards, but I was warm and happy sitting outside in the night.  There were not more laser messages, but the sky was brilliantly lit with dancing stars and this really bold moon glimmering in the clear sky.

It was beautiful.

And I began to think.

And appreciate the dorkiness that I think I probably need in my life.

I tend to hide in relationships behind people who have these over the top personalities.  They are all charming and gregarious and light up the room when they walk in.  It’s safety, for me, at its height.  It means I don’t ever have to be the center of attention and it means that attention will always divert to me to the sparkling gem standing next to me.

But, after Newt, I learned, I don’t want that anymore.  I have no desire to convert myself into this extroverted disco ball. However, I also have no desire to exist in someone’s shadow, either.

I think I hit a point where I don’t really need to be protected for people.

I don’t think that I want a big personality to hide behind.  Because I know that those big personalities tend to be over-the-top for the pure reason the core person isn’t much to talk about.  They are more sparkle than substance.

I’ve been spending an odd amount of time with someone I met in early August.  And by odd I mostly mean unexpected.  This warm friendship grew out of a happenstance meeting and turned into philosophical debates about absolute truths and ideological relativism.  Philosophy turned into life history which slowly transitioned into, “well..this is it.  my life”

I’ve found, that as the conversations have grown longer and later into the night over the past few months, I realized that existing in someone’s mind as a whole person and not just as a body to show off on your arm, is actually pretty comforting.

I’ve spent years running away from existing as anything but an accessory.  I was safe there.  As I slowly attempted to transition into the world of ‘real’ relationships, I’ve found that although the relationship was cloaked in the words of it being a relationship, I was still no more than arm candy.  But, in my head, because of semantics, I trusted it.

And I shouldn’t have.

I shouldn’t have because I was still not a person.

I was still an object to be shown off.  Still a title and a body.

I wasn’t a person. Or at least my person wasn’t valued.

A centerpiece.

My little laser light show was a silly little gesture that somehow hit me as one of the best gifts I could have received.  It was dorky, but it was genuine.  There was no premise or preface.  No ego.  No pictures to be taken.  No high fives from friends or any need for some sort of middle-aged man need for external justification that the woman he was with somehow made him more of a valuable person because he could ‘catch’ such a young one.

Just a simple idea with a bit of a mischievous grin behind it made with the intention of making me laugh.

And it worked.

It worked because it was silly and a bit dorky.

It worked because it was sincere.

It worked because he knew I would laugh.

It worked because it was this little token of appreciation for my humanness.

That odd little piece of technology made me human.

They say technology dehumanizes us.

In many ways it does.

But, this time.

It made me human.

It was a symbol of recognition for me about me.

Not about anyone else.

Not for his personal status or his gain.

It was good.

Maybe all these years I’ve been hiding from people because I don’t like being a thing to be judged and used as a pawn.  I’ve hidden because existing meant I had to disappear and only come to life in the little facets that the people I was surrounding myself with wanted to celebrate because those are the traits that made them better people.

I get it.

But, I also get the laser.

I don’t need to be a thing for someone to think about me.

What a big idea.

I don’t need to be a THING to be valuable.

I get to be valuable because I am a person.

This whole person with flaws and imperfections and ideas and thoughts and crazy passions and desires and goals and breath.

All of that stuff makes me matter.

Yet.

In all my years of relationships, I’ve mattered because of what I represented.

I’ve yet to matter because I’m me.

And before I get ahead of myself, I don’t have these images of grandeur of this new found blooming relationship that is shrouded in perfection and all those idealistic images we think of when we think of love and marriage.

In fact.  I’m not quite sure it will ever manifest itself into more than it is right now.

And that is OK.

Where it is right now has taught me some pretty important lessons.

Lessons that I hope my daughters (and son, for that matter), learn and live deeply.

We are valuable because we are people.  Comprehensive, perfectly imperfect, living, breathing, thinking, feeling, contributing people.

For a long time I lived under the impression my value was embedded in the external value that other people bestowed upon me.

Silly me.  That is the core lesson in one of the courses I teach – yet, I wasn’t brave enough to create my own value.

I’m my own worst student.

One simple gesture taught me a lot about myself.

It’s a good thing.

A simple thing.

A single thing that has taught me one of life’s wickedly complex lessons.

It’s about time I figured it out.

But, I get it.

I matter.

And I can even say, it was written in the sky.

Posted in moving forward | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Into the World of .Com Candy

LollipopsYesterday, the Candy Jar closed.

As in, if you typed in http://www.takingcandy.me you would see a dead page.

I knew the domain was going to expire and I decided I wasn’t going to renew it.

I continually struggle when it comes to writing here.  There are too many criss-crossing roles in my life with people that have stumbled across the page that makes something that is generically public, not nearly private enough.

I’ve always loved big groups of people.  I went to a college that had 50,000 students. I love shopping on Christmas Eve…just to people watch, never really needing to buy anything. I love big cities and rushes of people and chaos.  Because, in chaos, I can actively exist without being noticed.

Such a warm and comfortable place for someone whose tendency toward introversion grows exponentially with each passing year.

And that is the perhaps the power behind the Candy Jar.

It is so public, it is a quiet place of solitude.

Yet, worlds meshed and somehow, at some point, writing became a struggle.

In general, I just struggle writing.

I’m out of practice and my tpyers are creaky.

So, I let the Candy Jar come to a close.

This morning, as I sat and read my email, I just sat and ended up staring at a blank screen.

And I wanted the Candy Jar back.

When I first began writing, I desperately needed validation that the bullshit I was living through was, indeed, bullshit.  I needed a place to speak and process and try and get some sort of understanding to the fucked-upedness of my life.

This was it.

As time processed, the Candy Jar grew with me.

And the we closed down. I guess I finally hit this point where I didn’t need others to agree with my that my life was fucked over pretty amazingly by not only a man who claimed he loved me, but a legal system that was put in place to protect me.  I knew I got the short straw and I finally was OK with it.

The Candy Jar became, in many ways, obsolete.

A week ago Friday I had office hours, and I met with students and one conversation made me realize that I’m not living very intentionally anymore.

I think that as I lost my fight for justice and re-centered my personal place of value, I started going through the motions, not kicking and fighting and damning the world if I couldn’t make a difference or impact change — I was just floating along…hoping things would get better.

So, as we sat and talked about school and transfers and graduate school and big picture life goals, I said, “Well, in all honesty, that doesn’t seem like anything you need to go to graduate school for. IN fact, I can’t see why you don’t take the leap and just do it now.   What are you trying to prove with a string of degrees if they aren’t going to create the life you are envisioning?”

His response, “Well, Professor…are you living the life you envisioned? Are you doing the work you need to do to create the life you want?”

And my bullshit answer was, “I’ve always worked toward becoming a professor.  I think that this IS the life I envisioned.”

And in many ways, it is.

I love academics. I love college students and the development of learning and thinking and growth.  LOVE it.

I love writing and learning and creating great environments for people to learn how to love learning.

But.

I’m not living the life I envisioned.

And in fact, I think that I gave up.

And in giving it up, I’m quite stuck.

And being stuck never really works well for me.  It makes me restless and anxious and in some ways, it turns me back into the bitter person I gave up awhile ago.

So, office hours ended and a short conversation about a presentation turned into a hour long conversation about life.

It was a very human conversation.

And I say it was human because through the course of the conversation, I started to think about my life of treading water.

And when I got home, I felt empty.

The house was empty.

No kids. Very little work.

Just me.

I think that this emptiness was the first time I have actually felt alone.

Lonely.

I love alone.  I love quiet and solitude.

That Friday night.

It was a cold lonely.

A lonely so sad that I found myself making plans with dip shits I really had no interest in spending time with.

And I realized, it is, indeed, time for a change.

So, as the Candy Jar opened up to a dead page, I decided that perhaps the key to finding some sort of path to somewhere was writing again.

Getting back into the practice of thinking through processes and events.

Finding a bit of intention to my day and my movements.

I’ve been living very detached.

And I can honestly say, that as the week has passed, I think that this really human conversation I had somehow made me realize I don’t want to be detached anymore.

I need connectedness to something: a goal, a dream, a path.

And that realization of detachment made me realize that I need direction to find connection.

Treading water and going through the motions, in many ways, has been burying my spirit very slowly and now all that glimmers is this tiny, nearly stifled, stream of smoking hope.

A tiny warmth that can easily grow back into this flame of life and intention if I tend to it.

And the last 18 months…nearly two years, I’ve been busy hiding because facing the motions of the day was hard.

Work I didn’t want to do.

So, here we are.

Back in the Candy Jar.

And now, you might see…we are takingcandy.com — an upgrade.

And life may not always direct back to the Candy Jar.

But, I think that the Candy Jar is my compass back to life.

Posted in blogging, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Conflicting Emotions

Today, I woke up and read my horoscope – as per usual and it told me today would be a day of conflicting emotions.

In general, it was a great day.    diamond ring

I went to work.  We discussed one of my favorite articles in my intercultural class and in my interpersonal class, students (mostly) worked on their group project and I used my teacher time wisely by shopping for Michael Kors bags (because, you know…on my single-mom, teaching income, Michael Kors is totally within budget) online and grading papers and then off to the gym for a nearly 11 mile run.

I got home.

Opened the mail.

And there was a small little package.

Which I opened.

And inside, nestled, was a beautiful ring.

White gold.  Tiny little diamonds tracing the shape of beautiful little flowers.

Not extravagant like the last ring that was gifted to me.

But, beautiful.

Probably much more my style.

Little flowers and sparkle in white gold.

I put it on.

Fit perfectly and covered my hated ring tattoo completely.

The tag?

None.

Nada.

So, I called the company the ring came from.  And after a few transfers, I was told, that, yes, indeed – me at my address was the intended recipient and that the sender was “private” and no tag was an intentional request.  Payment information was confidential.

Someone just sent me a motherfuckingdiamondring in the mail.

Anonymously.

So, what did I do?

I took off the God Father’s ring, and put the new one on.

Talk about conflicting emotions.  I have an idea of who maybe sent it.  There are 2 people that immediately come to mind.  Two people I spent a significant amount of time with for a good year who I parted ways with last March.  But, I don’t know.  And I’m not going to call and find out.

I don’t want to know.

You know, after the last guy who painted this picture of life and love that he ruined with the quick thrust of his lying tongue (and other thrusting parts),  I struggled.

I struggled because, like always, I questioned why I wasn’t enough.

And when he came knocking, I made the official decision that I deserved, and wanted, someone better.

He taught me that I wasn’t just enough, I was more than he could handle.  I wanted someone who would take care of me no matter what.

So, when I think about this mysterious ring in the mail, I know that it came from someone who I had this weird sort of relationship with.

I called it off because I needed to. It wasn’t the right thing anymore.  For either of us. And if it wasn’t him and one of the others, I can say the same thing.

I ended these oddly normal relationships because the premise of them was deeply and darkly dysfunctional.

When I ended them, I felt a little bit empty.  I was used to the texts and the voicemails and the little reminders of them in my life.  Nothing extravagant..but, little reminders that I was in their minds.

Reminders that I was important.

Reminders that I was enough.

Perhaps, I was more than they deserved.

Now, I look back…and think that these hidden relationships served me a purpose.

They taught me a bit of self-value and  that I deserved to be treated like I was enough.

The ring?

Someone still thinks I’m worth sending a little gift to. . . even though they aren’t in my life.  Even though they will get nothing in return. Even though I won’t even know who they are.

Someone still wants me to be surprised.  Someone wants to know I’m smiling.  Someone wants me to wrack my brain and solve the mystery (which I why I think I know who it was).

And in many ways, as I look down on my finger, I do have conflicting emotions.

It means I took off a ring that someone gave me to know that I was worth a few carats of diamonds hugged in white gold…a ring that was gifted in love wrapped in Ego. A gift of hope I needed desperately.

It means someone still knows I want the infamous ring tattoo covered and values that enough to know, anything I put on that hand needs to hide that scar from view.

It is a very assertive reminder of a near past history that was both empowering and heart breaking all in one.

It is a reminder of perseverance and sacrifice.

It is a reminder that I impacted someone positively enough that they still think of me even though its nearly been 9 months since we last were in contact.

It is a reminder that I am worth it.

I am enough.

It’s liberating.

Life goes in these insanely odd circles.

I’m overwhelmed.

And grateful.

Today at school, I had this really unique conversation with a student that made me think about myself and the labels I use on myself to hold me back.

Like everyone, I struggle with this.

I’ve been very caught up in these scary cycles of labels I’ve taken on because of the way I have engaged in, and been engaged with, in relationships.

And I’ve learned that everyone is imperfect and everyone is trying really hard to cover their imperfections to find this elusive place of value in someone else’s life.

I’ve done the same.  And in doing so, I’ve taken on labels that have completely killed my esteem.  The people who made me feel the best and valued me the most were those people in which I had questionable relationships.  The people I thought I could trust broke me.  I started to think that because it was “the bad guys” that embraced me and the “good guys” who reminded me that I wasn’t enough, then maybe…just maybe, my place in the world was with the bad ones.

But, really.

We’re all out there seeking the same shit.

Validation.  Esteem.  Integrity in self.

We all want to know we are enough.

Today is officially a turning point.

This new little diamond accented ring with flowers is my reminder that I’m enough.

And the people who don’t think so can fuck off.

And the people who think so behind curtains and cloaks of anonymity will be my reminder when I need it.

2014 was not the year I expected it to be.

But, it has been a really powerful year of self-learning and perhaps finally gaining a level of very raw self-acceptance.

I’ve fucked up.  I’ll fuck up again.

But, I’m enough.

And now when I start to doubt, instead of looking down at the ring of a destructive relationship, I’ll look down and see the sparkles of tomorrow.

Lessons of yesterday culminating in better tomorrow.

Today.

Today was a good day.

Posted in anonymous gift, diamond ring, diamonds, men, sugar baby, sugar daddy | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Magic and Unicorns: The Stuff of Dating in your 30s

Today, while I should have been grading stuff, I kept reliving the last three years of my life here in the Candy Jar.

And I realize, that as 2014 is quickly coming to an end, a lot has changed in the last year.

unicornsarerealI’ve changed a lot in the last year.

I’m this odd balance of much stronger, yet much more fragile.

I have somehow beat the odds and am living an independent life.  I live in this beautiful little house that probably needs one more bedroom, but has been my first HOME in I don’t know how long.  I finally have this safe haven.  I finally have this place where I can walk in the door and breathe away the day and the outside and the people. It needs new carpet and there is always a lego on the floor or a doll wedged into some odd corner.  But, it is beautiful and safe and my first real place of grounding as a single woman.

I have work.  Granted, I fall in and out of love with my job every time the anxiety sneaks in at the end of the semester and the unknown about work next semester comes in.  Anxiety. Fear.  Frustration.   This year was a lot of anxiety. Teaching is officially my ONLY stream of income.  This time last year I had a lot of different gigs in the mix.  Nothing I am overwhelmingly proud of, but, again…nothing that I wouldn’t do again if push came to shove.  I don’t have my dream faculty job and I barely write (so, we can kiss that whole book deal off the table), but, I support myself and three kids. I get a little bit of support from their dad, which I am overwhelmingly grateful for, but, I finally feel like, “I’ve got this.”

And I do.

I am living a pretty damn normal life.

And by normal, I don’t mean mediocre.

By normal I mean just that.

We have a schedule, friends, meals, chaos, fights, hugs, love, tears, stories, struggle and celebration. We have unity.  We have goals.  We are committed.

We are a family.

And in some ways, I feel quite settled in this. I’m finally learning how to just live a normal life.

I’m not living this estranged double life that kept me away from my family and kept me away from friends.  Hiding.

Today, as I talked to my bestie about Newt, I came to the realization that he is probably the first NORMAL person I have dated since I’ve been divorced.

He had a normal job in sales.

He lived in a normal house in a very normal neighborhood.

He was in great shape, but, he was just normal.

He was good looking…but normal good looking.

I think that he was/is  attempting to create this life that people see as extraordinary – which is fine – but, I think that I liked him and the potential of him for his normalness.

I definitely was not at a place where I wanted us to be a public “Us” – but, he was the first person I didn’t intentionally HIDE from my friends and my family.

He wasn’t a secret.

I didn’t have to be a secret.

He always told me, “I want to take you out and show you off” — and it made me super uncomfortable.  For a long time, my job was to be the one you took out to show off.

I didn’t want to be his arm candy because that would make him not so normal.

Newt knew me as a suburban mom who worked at a college and as he said, “works just too damn much” for what I’m getting out of it. He knew my ex-husband.  He didn’t know any of the pieces that connected the dots.

So, the real task ahead is trying to figure out what I really want if I choose to go down this dating route again.

I’ve never done that.  The whole dating thing has been passive.  I’ve never actively sought out anyone.  People come to me.  And I guess, because I apparently have this self-deprecating way of looking at myself, I must think, “well…why not.  This might be it.”

I don’t think that I have really had any standards about what type of partner works for me. Today my bestie told me, “You’re not a dater.  You need to figure out what you want and if that motherfucker doesn’t meet your standards, go home and watch TV instead of getting wrapped up in some relationship soaked in drama that you don’t need. You need someone who is long-term like you.  You need someone as smart as you. Although he isn’t out there…you need someone that is almost as good looking as you.”

And she’s right.

I don’t actually NEED anyone.  But, I think I’m at the point where having a real-life person to share my real-life with would be nice. Someone who can meet my friends and family and hang out without me needing a second phone or a string of lies to hide.  I need someone normal.

But.

My normal isn’t mediocre.  It’s pretty fucking exceptional.

Today I met a guy running (go figure), and we talked a bit about what my day looked like and our lives and all that kinda junk and he said, “You’re impressive. How do you pull that all together every single day? And you’re here running AND smiling AND talking all at the same time”

I told him “I’m magical.  My spirit animal is a unicorn”

He laughed at my cheesy joke and said he could only hope he got to talk to me more because my magic worked.

I think I am fucking magical.

My life is a big life.  I work. I work a lot.  I am intense and I am focused. I have three kids who are all involved in a varying intensity of activities after school.   I take my gym time seriously. My house is insanely clean and picked up. My kids eat home cooked meals every night they are home with me. And somehow, somehow I still laugh and smile and find gratitude in the chaos that I sometimes think is going to overwhelm me.  I am not perfect by any tiny stretch of the imagination.  But, I’ve somehow managed to not only pick up the pieces of my life, but turn it into something I am proud of.

In some ways, I’ve moved mountains.

I’m not even slightly mediocre.

I’m a fucking Warrior Princess.

And if and when I start the whole relationship thing up, I’m taking it from a whole new perspective.

I want someone who can, or who wants, to fit into my life. I need someone who is smart.  Thoughtful. Educated.  Thankful. I need someone with a stable job and a loving support system outside of me. I want someone who is happy. Laughter.  Has goals.  I need someone that takes care of themselves…physically and emotionally. I live a fast life and I keep high standards.  I need someone who doesn’t just keep up, but motivates me to work harder, love deeper, laugh more freely and maybe, leaves me in the dust sometimes.

Today, my bestie said, “You don’t need to settle. You need someone that recognizes your energy and wants to make it bigger.  All your finding are assholes who want to take that shit from you.  Don’t give that away.”

And she’s right.

I’m pretty fucking amazing.

There really aren’t many people out there like me.  I’m starting to realize that.  It isn’t uncommon that I hear that I am ‘unique’ or ‘interesting’ or ‘impressive.’ However, what I hear most of all from people is that I am mysterious.

And I think it is because I’m a bundle of anomalies all squished into one body.  I’m not a typical anything. I fit in everywhere because I don’t really fit in anywhere.  And perhaps I’ve always been like that.  I’m not sure.  But, I’m happy here.  Deeply HAPPY with who I am.  Perhaps not all the intricacies and daily bullshit of my life.  But, who I am? I like me.

And if that isn’t a big deal, I’m not sure what it.

I can look myself in the eye and the soul and be happy with who I’ve grown into.  I couldn’t do that 10 years ago, 5 years ago, especially not 3 years ago and a year ago I was barely holding my life together.  March it imploded.

Today?

Today I’m happy.

But, I think that the drama with Newt has taught me that I need to not let someone’s light take away my natural essence.  I’ve lived in the shadows of men I have tried to make bigger than they are for most of my life. I was never ME, I was always someone attached to someone else.   Then I hid in shadow because I was afraid and I didn’t want anyone to see me.

Maybe now I just need to embrace the fact that even with my imperfections and chaotic life, I’m oddly living a perfect life. I have amazing health, my body works exceptionally well, I am intelligent, I am kind. I am compassionate. I am passionate. I have family. Such beautiful family.  Healthy kids.  Healthy parents.  I have promise for tomorrow.  I am ready to welcome the future from this place of self-value instead of the cloak of doubt and fear I carry with me.

I think that Newt-Drama somehow taught me that I don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’m an amazing woman.  I have no need to hide. I have nothing TO hide anymore.

It’s like this rare opportunity of raw breath.

Clean air – refreshing my spirit somehow.

Freeing.

So, what does this mean if I dare venture into the world of dating?

I need someone who believes in magic and unicorns.

When I find him, I’m pretty sure I’ll have found the one.

Posted in Dating, moving forward, relationships and dating | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Knock Knock

Scared ShutJust as I thought, there was a brief knocking on the door.

And I let the past weekend turn into a conversation.

I couldn’t get past the why.

I didn’t really care about the who…I knew it was someone who was at least a decade older than me and living a life much closer to what his life would be without me.  I guess that is what happens when the people you pick and choose to be with are nearly 15 years older than you.

To him, she was still a younger woman.

To me?  Someone I couldn’t compete with.  And frankly have no intention of competing with.  There is nobody in the world sacrificing a decade of my life is worth.  I want, and need, to be me living the life I have in the now.

The other woman?

She was older…probably settled in a career and had kids long grown and out of the house…or at least on their way out.

If that is the reality he needs…then she is the right choice.

And that is exactly what I told him.

And that is exactly the why behind it all.

He has time. I have three kids and a career.

He needed more.

More than I was comfortable giving.

He wanted to be the ‘hero’ and I needed space to breathe.

So, he lied.

He cheated.

He got caught.

He got cold feet.

“Every day I knew I needed to call.  But, every day I just got more embarrassed.  I was scared. Scared of THIS. Scared of THIS conversation.”

Well, guess what.

When you spend the weekend fucking another woman while I’m at home waiting for you, you have the conversation or you go home.

I’m at a crossroads.

Last night was a long night of talking. Tears. Fear.Unknown.  Doubt.  Bruised egos and broken trust.

Is it worth moving on?

Or has shit been so broken it is easier to close up shop and move on to the next venture?

I don’t know.

Relationships are hard.  And people fuck up.  He fucked up. And in a way, I fucked up.

He fucked up more…don’t get me wrong…and he dealt with an “us” problem by seeking solace in the arms of another woman.

But, I also know that as he tried to get closer, I got scared and pushed him away.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Mistakes and fuck-ups should be forgivable.

I just am trying to figure out if this one is worth forgiving.

In our conversation, we had to talk about a lot of the hard stuff.  And it was uncomfortable.  And it was scary.

And I know that for us to move on and move forward, we need to do so intentionally.

But, we need to commit to figuring it out.

We need to commit to hacking through the bullshit and the hard to stuff and create a really strong front of “US”

And I’m not sure where commitment lies.

I’m admittedly drowning in a sea of unknown.  It has been almost a week since I’ve been able to stomach more than a protein bar eaten in bits and pieces throughout the day. I haven’t slept for more than an hour or two a night since Friday.

This is hard.

Hard living in a space where I am just waiting.

Waiting to see if I should close court and move on or if this is something worth fighting for.

I think I want to know that he thinks I’m worth fighting for.

I’m not sure he does.

I want him to.

I want to FEEL what it feels like to be picked.

I’m never the one people pick.

Always second best.

Always the back up plan.

I thought, before Friday, I WAS worth fighting for.

I thought he wanted me.

And accepted me.

And would fight to keep me.

Today?

I don’t know.

Last night was a hard night.

But.

He came.

He talked.

I hope he listened.

And now, today, it is a waiting game.

The hours of a work day stretch and my anxiety extends even further than the arms of a ticking clock reach.

And even in writing, I almost feel like I’m painting this picture of him being in control.  Like, he gets to choose.

And in a way, it is up to him.

We both have to be all in, all cards on the table, if we are going to make this work.

His cards aren’t on the table.

And frankly, I’m not sure I have even looked at my cards.

The whole thing makes me nervous.

What if we aren’t on the same page?

What if we work to figure this shit out and he does it again?

What if I close him off again?

What if?

Or, what if it is amazing?

I don’t know.

I’m honestly too scared to know.

I’m afraid to put myself out there, only to be rejected.

Again.

But, I also know – If I’m not willing, nothing will happen.

And I need more than nothing.

Deep rooted issues we both have surfaced last night.

Are we grown up enough to face them together and move on?

Fight on?

Together.

Honestly.

Let go of ourselves and leave a piece of trust in the other person.

I don’t know.

And not knowing is hard.

I’m ready for the hours to pass and the day to move into evening and to see.

Waiting.

Breathing.

Time.

Always an enemy in the unknown.

Waiting.

Waiting for another knock.

Waiting to see if I am ready to answer.

Knock Knock.

Posted in Dating, relationships and dating | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Invisible

I don't date“Look for the Invisible Ones, like Poppie”

That’s what my mom told me tonight after I told her the man I’ve been dating . . . and dating to a place of seriousness where our families were slowly starting to merge together, was with another woman.

When I caught him, he said, “Oh…I’m watching football”

Me: “Really?  With someone who drives a white Mercedes parked in your drive way? With the downstairs of your house dark? With a candle burning in the hallway? And candle glow from the master suite? With a woman’s running shoes and sports bag on the stair well? That’s interesting.  My calls go right to voicemail? You aren’t answering your texts? Right. That’s it.  Football.  You realize that is ME downstairs, right now…right?”

Last night I knew something was off. After his happy hour drinks with his friends, I never heard from him again.

I knew something was wrong.  But, I don’t like to meddle.  I like to think I can trust.

Trust.

And in the morning a half-assed text.

The first weekend he was in town when we were both “kid free” since we met and he was oddly unavailable.

Nothing.

Nothing at all.

And I knew.

So, I went to his house.

I almost vomited on my own heart beating in my throat, but  I walked up to the door.

And I wasn’t surprised by what I found.

But, it made me sad.

My mom said, “Well, he was maybe just too good to be true”

My best friend said, “That motherfucking asshole, I’m gonna slash his tires”

They both agreed that he’d realize he fucked up as soon as I wasn’t in his life.

And, you know, the important men in my life,  that is the truth.

Ex-husband:  Regret.

Navy Boy: Regret

The God Father:  Regret

Blue Eyes:  Won’t let it go even through we long let it go.

Google: Regret

The Burkster: Regret

Newt:  Time will tell.

Interestingly, they all leave for greener grass.  And they all learn the grass isn’t greener.

For the most part, I move on.

I’m done being married.  The divorce and in fact, the marriage was so devastating that I don’t think I could survive that again.  I think, now that I look back, I was so cracked and frail by the time he left, I shattered immediately because I wasn’t enough of anything to hold myself together.

Navy Boy?  The best friend ever.  He is someone I love so deeply and fully that somehow our lives are inextricably combined and I can’t imagine, and do not want to imagine, life without any semblance of him. He breathes an air of life into me  every time I deflate.  He is far.  I am tied here.  We are an impossibility.  He has been with me from the worst days of my life to the best.  He has seen me fall, get punched, cry, crumble and has cheered me on as I climbed mountains and conquered worldly goals.  He is a pillar when I need one and a pillow to cuddle with when I need him.  He made me look at myself as a strong, intelligent, beautiful force to be reckoned with when I met him.  He made me believe I had a place in the world.  He made me believe I was more than just a divorced and broken mother of three.  He taught me I wasn’t an failure. Maybe it is the impossibility that keeps us longing for the other person to create stability and constancy in the other’s life. Regardless.  He met someone.  I found out because I have mad skills of intuition. It made me sad. On the other hand, the God Father made him sad, too.

The God Father was a pipedream and a life vest.  I loved him.  I love him now.  I love him because his dysfunction made my fucked up life seem so normal.  His drama and his over the top way of living was so NOT normal.  He drove a Ferrari to pick his son up from school and would tip baristas at Starbucks $200 at the drive through and was probably the smartest, quickest thinking bullshitter on the planet.  He kept me on my toes and he kept grounded.  He was my balance.  We lived a beautifully secret life together for nearly 2 years.   My friends all HATED HIM.  And I know, deeply, that he was trouble. And not just mischievous…but, trouble where suburban mothers shouldn’t stick their noses or ask too many questions.  And that worked for me.  We had this ideal little bubble together where the only thing that existed was this fantasy we created that held no strings to real world we would have to return to.  He was the most constant thing in my life for a long time.  It was a dysfunctional constant…but constant and I need constant.  I knew what to expect…even when I didn’t like it…I could trust it would happen.  But, I think there was a lot of narcissistic, sociopathic tendencies that were not healthy.  But, I loved past that. I loved him from a comfortable distance.  And then he moved.  Without me. And he hasn’t been able to lure me back into his world.  But, I hear from him regularly.  He wants us back.  Unfortunately…it just doesn’t work that way.

Blue Eyes was fun.  We laughed and laughed and laughed and could sit and drink tequila and solve world problems, flip properties, plan vacations and laugh and laugh and laugh.   We’d make soup and bread and binge watch TV.  We were normal.  Like, a real-life, normal relationship.   Except for the fact he was seeing someone else.  Kinda. Ish.  Enough for him to start questioning if he could handle us both.  I answered it for him.  NO.  No he couldn’t. I wasn’t interested in being Second Best. I was always second best.  With my husband.  With the God Father.  And Navy Boy and I couldn’t create a reality….for him I just wasn’t enough.  Blue Eyes and I didn’t speak for months.  Yet, we saw each other everyday and then his texts started and the conversations and the little remarks and the hinting.   Now, we still laugh and smile and pass secret looks everyday.  I think out of habit.  And sometimes when you share a special connection with someone that connection just doesn’t go away.  But, he doesn’t get me back, either.  It just doesn’t work that way.

Google was a good catch. Wait. Let me rephrase that. I WANTED Google to be a good catch.  Google was so damn smart and so freaking wealthy, he didn’t know how to exist normally.  Like, his reality was different.  Did I mention he was from Europe, too?  He was too much for me.  Too different.  He overwhelmed me.  I couldn’t live in his world…even when all the money in the world was at my fingertips.  How’s that for NOT being a gold digger?

The Burkster.  He was big and strong and blond and had these amazing muscles.  And he was smart.  And worked hard.  And was so passionate about his life.  And generous.  We basically met on his birthday and interestingly, we met in line at a grocery store and he was buying tequila and I was buying a cake and we decided because it was his birthday and he had booze and I had a cake, we should just bail on our plans and drink tequila and eat cake together.   And we did.  And we spent many weekends drinking tequila and exploring the world. Hikes, day trips, baseball games, strip clubs (where, let me tell you, I am apparently highly employable and can make some fast cash! Who knew?!).  It was easy.  We were an adventure.  But.  He wasn’t honest.  Unlike the God Father who was honest, but shady, The Burkster was, is, a Good Guy.  But, he is a liar and I don’t trust him.   He drinks too much and makes bad choices.  Oh. Did I mention he’s married?  I learned that the hard way.  After a long night which entailed my best friend picking me up from a seedy ass neighborhood at like 2 in the morning.  I’ve learned that a white girl who speaks fluidly in Spanish and has an ass like JoLo is a plus on nights like those.  But, he kept calling and texting and leaving apology notes anywhere and everywhere he could.  Like EVERY OTHER man before him, I heard the words, “I really fucked up. I’m sorry.  Can we try again” tumble out of his mouth over and over again.

And No.

It just doesn’t work that way.

And that brings us to Newt.  Newt is an interesting one.  Mind you. I keep men at a safe arms distance away. I trust slowly…like molasses on a cold day in Alaska.  Men have repeatedly shown me that they aren’t to be trusted.  They lie.  They manipulate.  The twist the truth.  So, I liked him. But, I liked him cautiously.

But.  Something was a bit too intense about him.  In fact, EVERYTHING was intense about him.  And when he wanted something, he wanted it NOW.  Which, in all honesty, made me freak out.  People who pressure you that much have something to hide or are running from something they don’t want you to find out about.   Admittedly, he overwhelmed me.  I liked him, but I think I felt like I needed to like him more than I did or something bad would happen.  I started to deal with really debilitating anxiety again.  I started to feel fat and insecure about my physicality.  I started to question my job and my career and pretty much everything in my life and the decisions I’ve made.  He lives by this slogan “I don’t do mediocre” — which, is fine. But, I think medicore is OK.  We all can’t be brilliant and perfect.  And sometimes we don’t like to shove our strengths in people’s faces.   Sometimes we like to live in gratitude instead of gloating in existence.   But, he was a warm body and supportive and protective.  Like, I felt safe with him.  Like, life was going to be OK.  I started to feel like I really could trust him…because he was consistent and persistent. And because he ‘adored’ me.  He told me constantly how much he adored me.  He was in love and over the top within hours of meeting.  And it only got more intense.  And I couldn’t figure out why, WHY didn’t I immediately want him fully to myself?  He ADORED me.  He LOVED me.  Maybe I should have run to the wedding chapel and called it another marriage.

But, the pieces didn’t add up and I caught him in a lie and…again, with another woman.  Maybe had I thrown caution to the wind, the other woman never would have made her way into his bed.

“She was nice.  And I was bored out of my mind being alone all the time!”  Well..that is what he said anyway.  Not to mention he worked, and I worked, and he travels every other weekend and shared custody of his son.  Yeah….bored.  Alone.  I think he is just an asshole.

Newt is a recent case of ‘the grass is greener’ – so we will see what happens.

My experience?

Everyone comes back.

I am trying to understand this whole phenomenon of men.  They say they want a strong, intelligent, fit, sexy woman who is independent and loving and warm.

I’m THAT.

Not because I’m tooting my own horn…but, I AM that woman.

The biggest flaw?

To BE that woman, it means you dedicate a lot of your time to being strong, fit, sexy, independent, loving and warm.

And that means you can’t center your life on the man.

Men want someone who is this globally amazing woman…yet, don’t get that to GET that woman, they have to sacrifice something too.

They don’t get that.

And they walk. Looking for a better life with someone else. And perhaps they may find it.  In most cases, I HOPE they find it.

But, I am tired of hearing how spectacular I am and then find out spectacular isn’t enough for them.

Who the FUCK do they think they are?

Not one of the men I listed above has everything.  You embrace people for their imperfections and you celebrate their contributions.  You celebrate them.

My best friend and I have commonly had the conversation that I am the woman men like to fuck but are afraid to commit to because I overwhelm them because I am smart and educated and kinda have my shit together.

That might be the case.

I think that men who are out and looking for women are just asshole liars. My experiences tell me that men who claim they care about me and want to be a part of my life and make me life easier/happier/whatever are all lying motherfuckers.

Lying motherfuckers who come back with their tails between their legs because I’m pretty fucking awesome.

But, dealing with the deception and the trust thing is hard for me.

I’m human.  Words hurt.

Newt told me every night he loved me.

Every.

Single.

Night.

The GodFather tells me he loves me.

Every.

Single.

Day.

I think Navy Boy does love me.

But, he might be the exception to the case.

Google told me I would fall in love with him.

And maybe I would.

But the life lesson is that no matter how amazing you are, you aren’t going to be enough for someone.

You aren’t going to be enough for a LOT of someones.

After I told my mom about Newt and his adventurous penis, she told me, like any good mom would, that he would regret it because I’m awesome.

I told her I was done with men and that I was closing off the whole dating bullshit and returning to the world of arm candy because then dating meant all I had to be was a pretty face and an intelligent conversation from 7pm until midnight, and then much like Cinderella, my gown would turn to tatters and I’d be swept from the sparkling streets of the city to my humdrum suburban life. Then dating was an arrangement. A job. No emotions. Just smiles.  Correct nods, smiles and air-kisses.  A pretty dress and a fancy car to ride in. But no expectations of tomorrow or next week.  No charade of being a couple and negotiating a shared reality.  No strings attached.  Just safe relationships I could trust. A contract.

Real men in real life hurt me.  I’ve been hurt physically. I’ve been hurt mentally. I’ve been hurt emotionally.

And it is draining.

And I fear I am going to get caught up in the negative spiral of self-hate and unworthiness because of the way I am treated.

I don’t want to be that broken girl anymore.

Yet, the only time I am faced with this overwhelming sense of ‘not enough’ is when people who I meet and create these great bonds with lie. Trust is obliterated.

I don’t want to pick up the pieces.

And as I told my mom this, I think her heart broke a little bit.

Just yesterday she told me I FINALLY was back. She said I looked healthier.  I was happier.  I was normal again.

I think she was happy I finally met someone who was a Good Guy.

I think she was happy I was finally turning the corner into living a very ‘normal’ life.

No shady men. No shady jobs.  No shade.

Just me and the sunshine.

And I think she liked that.

Tonight she told me, “There are still good men out there. Look for the invisible ones.  You will meet him. And tell Newt he is uninvited to Thanksgiving.”

And she is right.

But, I’m invisible.

I tried to be invisible for years because it was safer.

Every time I peak out of my invisible cloak, I get hurt.

I hurt.

And I bleed.

And it gets really hard to breathe.

So, I disappear.

Trying to find peace again.

Trying to find breath again.

Perhaps grasping for hope that maybe one day I’ll get to be Someone.

Just Being.

I hope that one day I can exist fully without fear.

Being invisible is where I belong.

Maybe the problem isn’t that I’m looking for the obvious. I haven’t been looking for any of these men…they all found me.

Maybe the men who should be seeking me aren’t looking for the invisible.

And maybe I only become visible to them after they walk away and leave me broken. Perhaps I sparkle and call their attention as the shards of me glint and glimmer in the sun.

Maybe I am my brokenness.

Maybe being broken is what would make men stay.

So they had something to fix.

And maybe, just maybe, that is BULLSHIT.

There is a saying that claims, “If you don’t love me at my lowest, you don’t deserve me at my best”

Perhaps, in my case, it should read, “If you don’t love me at my strongest, you don’t deserve me at my lowest”

Either way.

I don’t get it.

I don’t understand the lies.

I don’t understand the lack of respect.

I don’t understand.

What I do know is that regardless of the motherfuckers that only make me stronger, more invisible yes…but stronger absolutely, is that I have a pretty amazing family I should focus my energy on.

Yea.  A boy is nice to have around.

But, what matters is my kids and my parents and my bestest friends.  There is so much love and support in my life that being sad about another liar just shouldn’t faze me. I have a mother that would move mountains for me. I have a best friend that would build bombs and throw them through candlelit bedroom windows for me. I have kids that deserve to be raised in a home that is full of all this love.

I’m really starting to feel better about being invisible.

For years I hid because it was safe.

Now, I think I hide because I can be whole.

I like being whole.

I am complete.

And if a man can’t handle a woman who is complete, they  might as well go and water someone else’s grass.

They’ll eventually learn they can’t water it and keep it greener than mine is without them.

I think I’ll jump up onto my pedestal now and bow into a place of solitude.

Cover myself in a sparkling shroud of invisibility.

Untouchable.

Out of reach.

Invisibly desirable.

Posted in Dating | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Contingapthy? Adjuntapathy? Welcome to the New Higher Education

Contingapthy?

Is that really a word?

I was thinking, initially, adjuntapathy….

But, I’m not quite sure that is a word either.

What do they mean?

That the adjunct, or contingent, faculty member teaching approximately 73% of all classes in higher education is facing a moment of apathy.

Or, at least this one is.

And quite deeply.

I’ve struggled with my love-hate relationship with my contingent work for about 3 years.  I really like, for the most part, my students and the energy they bring to the classes and the lessons they walk away with.  I like being a part of higher education, and for as much as people downplay the role of community colleges, I really REALLY like working in the community college environment.

But, following basic social theory of cost-benefit analysis, I think that finally the disadvantages of working as an adjunct faculty member are grossly outweighing the benefits….

And, even though I’m not a brilliant numbers person, I know that when the bad overwhelms the good, it is probably time to get the good goin’ before I drown in the bad.

I think I have stayed past my expiration date as an adjunct.

I kinda just don’t care much about my job anymore.

I care just enough to not get fired and get a paycheck.

And by paycheck, I mean enough money to qualify for every social service program in the country.

Is that really what we want out higher education teachers to be qualified as?

The newest welfare worker.

The newest Pink Collar career path.

The adjunct.

Luckily, because I have five (yes FIVE jobs), I don’t need to dig into the county coffers to pay my bills and feed my kids — but, I’m done having 5 jobs.

I’m burnt out.

And I’m apathetic.

And teachers, educators, should NEVER be apathetic.  We don’t do our jobs well when we stop caring.

I partially don’t care because I finally have realized I’m worth more than the institution counts me for.  And that isn’t just a paycheck.  It’s what I contribute.  What I do in the name of the college.  How I support my students.  How I add richness to the college’s culture.

They don’t care what I do or how I do it…and frankly, I’m starting to think they really don’t care if I do it anyway.

It’s hard to care when nobody else does.

There is a HUGE adjunct movement now that is starting to make an impact and starting to stir the pot. They are called The New Faculty Majority  and they are doing important work for higher education and everyone who is impacted by higher education (i.e. EVERYONE).

Part of me wants to start a movement in California.  Start a non-profit that really starts to fight for legislation that supports higher education faculty and starts to eliminate this whole bullshit standard of adjunct faculty. I can talk for hours about it.  I have researched it. I have published it.  I have studied it.  I have talked the talk in numerous national conferences about it.

It matters.

But.

I think I might be so disenfranchised that I don’t even care.

Part of the lessons I have learned going to through programming to overcome abusive relationships is that at some point, you have to learn how to disconnect yourself from the emotion that drives you to behave and relearn new behaviors that support your health and well-being, and in many cases, safety, to be able – or strong enough, to move forward.

I feel like I need to recover from my work as an adjunct.

Signs that you are in an abusive relationship include things such as

  1. Feel afraid to engage with your partner
  2. Avoid certain topics out of fear
  3. Feel you aren’t doing anything right
  4. Being humiliated,
  5. Being criticized
  6. Being treated your so badly you are embarrassed for your family or friends to see
  7. You are objectified
  8. You start to feel emotionally numb
  9. You feel helpless
  10. You have limited your access to money and basic resources
  11. Use of threats to get compliance and submission
  12. Isolate you

These are all parts of life as an adjunct.

I KNOW deeply that I am a really good teacher. I know DEEPLY I am very smart.  I know DEEPLY that students learn in my classes because I see how their strategies change in my classes.  I know I am an asset to my institution. I have no doubt.

Yet.

I am afraid to engage with my ‘manager.’  I am afraid because I know that he will make excuses for his behavior (another sign of abuse) and continue on to use those excuses in a manner that is degrading, objectifying, and frankly -embarrassing.

I avoid him at all costs.  And when I do see him, I go in armed with a shield of bitterness and disengage completely.

No longer do we have access to other adjunct faculty in our department. No longer do we feel we have any control over the direction of our lives.

He makes it clear that I don’t count.

I have learned that in a personal relationship, none of those outlined 13 things are acceptable.  In my programs, I have tediously gone over the places where my marriage screwed me up.  I have talked and written until I was blue in the face about things I thought were “normal” and “expected” and learned that I was so deeply embedded in a marriage cloaked in normalcy and soaking wet in dysfunction, that I lost my compass of healthy and normal and acceptable.

In that process, I completely lost any sense of self value.

And in this process, I somehow was so fucked up, that I sought actively, chances to prove that my marriage wasn’t dysfunctional…or that it was unsafe or unhealthy or even abusive that I actively sought relationships that would prove my marriage was actually OK.

And those little forays into dark and ugly places, I realized that even there, I had more control over my life and my choices and my opportunities than I did when I was married.

I’ve learned a lot this last year.

Much of it because I couldn’t deny choices I had made in the past anymore.  And I couldn’t deny the ugly my life was when I was married.

The facade crumbled.

It broke in this ugly explosion of booze soaked reality with nearly everyone I loved present.

And in the aftermath, I came to realize, that continuing to work as an adjunct is just perpetuating this cycle of abuse and self-hate.

Crazy connection, right?

I got my PhD to prove myself to the world.

Only to realize that even a PhD won’t save me.

Even in higher education, where a PhD is the holy grail…it still makes me a victim of the system.

It keeps me in a powerless position.

And I think I am ready to let it go.

I’ve emotionally disconnected.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’ll go through the motions.  Show up for class (well, most of the time – I do have about 200 hours of sick leave that needs my urgent attention), give lectures, talk about theory and relevant articles, grade papers and be present.

I’ll pretend until I have an out.

Which will be sooner rather than later.

I don’t want to work somewhere where I am apathetic and the organization surrounding me ignores me until they belittle me.

I want to work somewhere where I make enough money to support myself without having to work 4 other jobs.

I want a career where potential for living and breathing is an option.

I am grateful I have a job. Don’t get me wrong.

But, the time has come.

The final bells of my career in higher education are seemingly coming to a close.

Almost a sad day.

But, I have learned that when you are not longer surrounded by dysfunction, the world opens up.

I’m not ready to cut ties.

But, the facts of leaving are hitting home.

And they don’t feel suffocating or scary like they did before.

The idea of leaving is refreshing.

Perhaps I’ll find another job at another college.

But, probably not.

And I think that is a good thing.

It is time to leave the rank of the adjuntapathy.

support adjuncts

Posted in education, moving forward | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments