Monday, April 28, 2014

Anything Else

     These days I barely get nervous before a date.  I go through the whole routine of trimming various hairs, picking out the right outfit, and making sure I smell good but I do it with a sort of clinical detachment.  I really fake most of my self confidence but I do have a very healthy sort of screw 'em if they don't like me attitude.  Then again maybe it isn't healthy because it leads to me not trying to impress anyone and therefore only impressing those that I can impress without trying.  Still, that attitude is part of who I am, part of who I've always been, and it's probably never changing.
     That attitude must have been on vacation, though, when it came time for my first date after my marriage ended.  Even the asking was a long, drawn out mess.  I had no idea that I should have a time and place in mind.  I was used to the what do you want to do, I don't know what do you want to do, screw it we'll stay home rhythms of marriage. Eventually, she figured out that I was trying to ask her out and said yes and picked the time and place.  It wouldn't be the last time she would lead me like a little boy through some of the rituals of dating.
     Then, of course, I realized I had nothing to wear.  That wasn't the worst though.  I had no idea what I should wear.  I didn't know what I looked good in.  I didn't know I looked good in anything.  It didn't help that for at least the last half of my marriage when I asked my ex-wife what I should wear her answer was that she didn't care.  I probably should have seen that as a sign.
     I didn't know who to ask either.  My mom always likes it when I dress like an old man. My brothers both have styles, if they can be called that, that I wouldn't work for me.  I knew that much at least.  I had a friend that would give me grief about my wardrobe consisting of a variety of Cardinals shirts but he apparently didn't know the meaning of irony because he would mock me while wearing one of the five different colors of tank tops he owns.  So I turned to a married friend of mine for advice and she suggested I wear green.  I must say she has good taste.  I don't know if it's the Irish in me or what but green has turned out to be a lucky color for me.
     I shaved my head and my face.  I hadn't stumbled upon the magic of the beard yet back then.  I cleaned my truck of the trash and kid junk for the first time in ages.  My friend that mocked my wardrobe mocked me for this too.  It felt nice having so much support and with that vote of no confidence I pretended like I knew what I was doing and set off for my date.
     She lived forty-five minutes away so on the drive I cranked the radio to drown out my doubts and cranked the air conditioning to cool my nervous sweat.  I smoked way too many cigarettes but took comfort in knowing I had at least thought of breath mints and to bring along some smell good.  Somehow I managed to ignore my sense of impending doom long enough to make it to the gas station where we were meeting in one piece.  I made it to this less than romantic rendezvous half an hour early.
     Being early is a habit I can thank my father for but that night I was cursing it.  There isn't much at a gas station that can distract me for thirty minutes.  I played some scratch offs, gulped a couple cups of coffee, chain smoked, got worried about my smell and appearance, checked myself out in the bathroom, put on some smell good, popped some breath mints, told myself not to smoke anymore so I would still smell good when she got there, and then chain smoked some more.  I needed to talk to someone that would remind me how ridiculous it was that I was so nervous but the woman that gave me fashion advice wasn't responding and I was too much of a man to admit to other men that I was nervous.  So I sat there by myself as the night grew dark and convinced myself she wasn't coming even though it was still ten minutes until the time we'd agreed to meet.
     She texted that she was on her way so I quit worrying about being stood up.  It should have been a relief but it wasn't because it meant that this was actually going to happen. I was going to go on a date.  I'd been sixteen the last time I'd truly went on a date and dates aren't really dates at sixteen.  I was really about to go on my first date and I was as nervous as a virgin.  Actually, I was more nervous than I had been when I lost my virginity.  Not that I was thinking about sex as I sat in that gas station parking lot.  I'd only ever had sex with one woman and the possibility of sex with another didn't seem like a real possibility even though I was going on a date.
     I sat on the tailgate of my truck and watched cars pull into the parking lot.  She'd told me what car she drove but for some reason I got nervous with every car, truck, van, or big rig that pulled in.  Finally, after minutes of waiting, a car matching the description she gave me showed up.  I managed to get to my feet without falling down, though it was close, and walked toward her car.  As I did she opened the driver's side door and emerged.
     "Oh shit," I thought, "She's far too good looking for me."
     I didn't know whether to shake hands or hug so I awkwardly tried both and accomplished neither.  She chuckled and I didn't know if she was laughing at me or the situation.  Still, I chuckled too and although I knew I was laughing at myself it still calmed me just a bit and smoothed over the situation.  We decided where to eat and that she should drive because I didn't know the area.  That was a life saving decision because right then if I would have had to try and drive as nervous as I was around this beautiful woman I probably would have driven us off a bridge.
     We talked on the way to eat, talked while we were eating, and sat in the car and talked when we got back to the gas station.  The more we talked the less nervous I felt and the more it seemed that she wanted to talk to me.  Funny how that works.  I didn't have enough of a history of dating to appreciate it then but it was one of those rare first dates where everything clicked.  I'm lucky that my first, first date was like that and not like some others I've had.  Otherwise, I might have given up on this dating thing altogether.
     As I've said, we sat in her car in that gas station parking lot and talked for hours. Occasionally, she would look at me like she was waiting for something.  I caught the look but I couldn't imagine what it was she was waiting for.  It wouldn't occur to me until I was halfway home.
     We had both worked before our date, I had a long drive home, and two in the morning really was pretty late to be sitting in a parking lot.  So we said goodbye, I successfully executed a hug this time, and I drove away.  After I was sure I was on the road I needed to be on to get home I texted her to thank her for the wonderful evening and said I hoped we could do it again.  It made me seem like a gentleman but I was really just fishing for reassurance because I was beginning to doubt myself again.
     She replied that she was glad to hear I had a good time because she hadn't been sure. That shocked me that she would doubt herself.  I was amazed that this beautiful woman was as human as the rest of us.  I wondered why she would be unsure.  What had or hadn't I done?  Then I realized and I actually did the Homer Simpson d'oh out loud.
     "I should have kissed you," I texted her.
     "Why didn't you?" she replied.
     "Because I'm new at this and I'm an idiot," I answered.
     "Well you can kiss me next time," she texted.
     I went to bed with a smile on my face that night and marveled that a beautiful woman could like a goofy looking dumb guy like me.  When I woke up in the morning I convinced myself that she didn't really like me and we would never talk again.  Then she replied to my good morning text and I was ecstatic all over again.  That week we kept talking and texting and we planned the second date and I was almost convinced she actually liked me.
     The second date was a lot like the first except I actually kissed her before we went into the restaurant.  It was a damn good kiss too so this time when we sat in the gas station parking lot afterwards we talked and kissed and talked and kissed for a long time.  I still didn't think about sex.  I mean obviously my body was reacting to kissing a beautiful woman but I still just didn't consider sex a possibility.  She asked me if I would be okay driving home because it was dark and raining and late and blissfully ignorantly I assured her I'd be fine.
     We made another date as soon as possible and she decided that I should come to her place and she would cook for me.  She lived out in the country and my gps insisted that I should turn into a cornfield but I found the place okay.  I cursed my father again because I was there so early she wasn't home from work yet.  She was on her way though and sitting outside watching the sunshine on stalks of corn was easier than sitting in a gas station parking lot.  It turned out to be good that I was there when she arrived anyway.  I was able to help her carry groceries in.  So score one for Dad's influence I guess.
     She wasn't happy I'd been early though because she was still in her work clothes.  I told her she looked beautiful and that smoothed that over.  She started cooking without worrying about it.  That was the first time I realized the power of being able to look a woman in the eyes and truthfully tell her she's beautiful.  It has served me well that I find many women truly beautiful.
     She cooked.  It was great.  We talked and drank.  Then she decided that we should watch a movie.  We curled up together on her sofa and didn't watch much of the movie. We kissed and touched and I grew braver but not that brave.  Finally, she said untangled herself and said that she needed to shower.  There was exasperation in her voice but I didn't realize it then.
     I sat there like a bump on a log, a frog on a lilypad, like the clueless man I was.  I played on my phone and listened to the sound of her shower.  I won't say thoughts didn't run through my mind but they were the sort of background perversions that are like low level white noise playing in the back of a man's mind most of the time.  I heard the shower shut off and her go in her bedroom and I sat there waiting for what I didn't know. Then I heard her walk into the room.
     She walked in wearing black lingerie with her blonde hair flowing free.  She shuffled nervously but whatever reaction she saw in my face and eyes reassured her and she bravely walked over and stood in front of me.  My brain hadn't been working well but it was working and I knew the score now.  She'd basically had to hit me over the head with a hammer but I figured it out.  That's sort of what I felt like too, like I'd been hit over the head with a hammer but in a pleasant way.
     I still moved hesitantly and ran my hand up her thigh slowly and softly.  Part of my hesitation and methodical pacing was nervousness but part of it was just how I believe things should be.  That's how a woman should be touched the first time she shows herself to a man like that.  A man she be reverent to a beautiful woman's body.
     I stood up and kissed her and touched her and we ended up in bed.  Then...well I mentioned losing my virginity earlier.  This lasted shorter than that.  I stared at the ceiling in shock.  I'm well aware that every man says that's never happened to him when it happens to him.  I truly meant it though.  That had never happened before and I had no clue how to handle it.  I muttered an apology and she said it was alright, turned off the light, and pulled my arm around her.  She fell asleep while I was holding her.
     Instead of sheep, I counted excuses to try and fall asleep.  It was my first time with another woman.  She was just the second woman I had ever been with.  It was the first time since my vasectomy and I just didn't have any confidence.  I was nervous period. Eventually, I drifted off to a nervous sleep while still holding her and by morning had almost convinced myself that everything was alright.  Then the same thing happened again when we tried in the morning.
     She cooked breakfast for me and we talked about it matter of factly like it was no big deal.  I'm convinced she knew how much that helped me.  She asked about my vasectomy and I said I far as I know that can't really affect performance.  I was on anxiety medicine though and I told her that could be a side effect.  She reminded me of something she'd said before she went to bed.  She said there were physical reasons she was very hopeful that would be able to perform next time.  She said she was quite sure that she would enjoy it.  I left that morning having had sex twice for a total of under a minute and yet somehow confident in myself and assured that she would still have me.  That woman is magic I tell you.
     That confidence lessened before our next date though.  We didn't talk about it but we didn't talk about it in such a way that it seemed that was all we talked about.  I reassured myself that by myself everything was working properly and that seemed to rule out any physical reasons.  That wasn't as reassuring as it should have been though.  I didn't care how I reacted to my own touch.
     We went on another date and talked and laughed and had a great time.  I've glossed over that part of things but it was the most important part of things.  If there hadn't been the instant connection she probably wouldn't have put up with all the hand holding she had to do.  If that connection hadn't quickly developed into a deeper caring she wouldn't have been as patient as me.  If I hadn't had wanted to know her so much and gotten to know her so easily I wouldn't have cared enough to be as nervous as I was about everything.
     She was sarcastic and got my sarcasm and that was wonderful to me.  Her eyes would light up when she talked about her kids or other people she loved.  A sort of tragically, beautiful resigned anger would set in her face when she talked about her ex and then it would be gone just as quickly.  She was interested in everything I had to say and I in hers.  She was more beautiful inside than out, and that was saying something, and damned if she didn't think I was a pretty good guy.  She was everything I needed in a woman then and she has told me since that I was the man she needed.  It really was like the beginning of a good romantic comedy except funnier and more r rated.
     We ended up in her bed again, naked again.  I should have been relishing the feel of skin against skin.  My eyes should have been feasting on her curves and her lines.  I was too nervous, though, and feeling too much pressure.  I was too outside myself and thinking too much.  That's a problem I often have in life but not when I'm naked so I didn't know how to handle it.  It seemed at least this time I wouldn't have to worry about things ending too soon because I couldn't get them started.  Then she pulled me on top of her.
     "Come on, Paul," she whispered as she looked into my eyes, "I know you can make me scream your name."
     It was, and is, one of the most erotic moments of my life.  The combination of the challenge and the desperation in her voice, that she was desperate for me, worked wonders.  Everything went great after that.  I've probably already went into more details than most of my readers are comfortable with so I'll just say this.  As we drifted off to sleep that night, with my arms once again around her, she whispered, "I told you that you could make me scream your name."
     If life was the romantic comedy I mentioned earlier we would still be together and have had a happily ever after.  We aren't though but it wasn't from lack of trying.  We didn't have to try when we were together everything came naturally and easily after I got past all of my early difficulties.  It was getting together that we had to work at.  We both had kids.  She had different days off than I did.  We lived forty five minutes apart.  We tried like hell to overcome it, to the point of exhaustion and I think we came close.  We didn't quite make it though.
     I've had people tell me that it was just a rebound relationship.  It still offends me when someone says that because it seems like they're dismissing the importance of it.  She was everything I needed at the time and I was what she needed.  Two people being what each other need is important no matter when it happens nor how long it lasts.  I know I've mentioned before in this blog that I seem to be good at that.  I seem to be just the man to remind a woman that she is beautiful and is worth something before she moves onto the man she's going to stay with and I'm okay with that.  I'm kind of proud of that.  If I'm good luck Paul that's alright with me.  If I'm the Charles Barkley or Dennis Rodman of relationships than that's cool with me.  After all, they'll always be women in need of a rebound.
     Besides in this case I'm pretty sure it meant more to me.  I learned so much from her and our relationship.  I learned that there were women out there that would be interested in me.  I learned that beautiful women will want me.  I learned that I was a good man and had value still to the right woman, that life goes on, and that I could love again.  I learned that I should look for the type of woman I want not just the type of women I could get because I could get the type of woman I wanted.  Mostly I learned that there are some damn fine, damn beautiful, damn wonderful women out there and that we could touch each other's hearts.
     Two people came together at the right time for each other and gave each other the comfort and joy and pleasure they needed.  Then they left each other with hearts hurting but not broken; with hearts more mended and intact than when they found each other.  They left each other better than when they found each other and remain a fond memory in each other's mind and a warm feeling in each other's hearts.  The poets don't write it and it doesn't happen in romantic comedies but that's as much of a fairy tale ending as anything else.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What Wasn't

     What could have been isn't that what could have been
because it is what wasn't,
but thinking about what wasn't is allowed.
Regret isn't a musn't.
     What wasn't is really what we want, and what we hope could be,
in the future,
but it's what wasn't so I pretend I don't want her,
but someone like her.

Friday, April 11, 2014

So My Ex-Wife Got Engaged

     So my ex-wife got engaged.  Not today or anything, it happened about a month ago.  It bugs me when people say they have mixed feelings because most of the time it's a cop out answer to avoid saying their true feelings.  If there's ever a situation when mixed feelings is the truth, though, this is it.  I wasn't stunned by it.  I pretty much saw it coming but I hadn't felt any way about it until I heard it actually happened.  Then I felt a lot of ways.  The two most immediate emotions I felt were relief and anger.
     I was relieved because of a promise I made to her mother when I was sixteen.  I promised her mother I would take care of her and the seriousness of that promise was compounded when her mother passed away not long after.  It would have been easy to view that promise as just foolish words uttered by an adolescent but I've never looked at them that way.  That promise stayed with me during long nights at two full time jobs, when she battled cancer, her pregnancy and labor, her later lost pregnancies, and that promise is part of what kept me from even considering leaving in the final few years when our marriage wasn't working well.
     Obviously, since we separated I haven't really been capable of keeping this promise but I've still tried when I could whether she realizes it or not.  In the first year after we broke up, when we were navigating our way to divorce I made financial sacrifices to pay child support that was never court ordered and that I didn't ethically owe because we had fifty-fifty custody.  I also fixed things several times for her and even gave her advice about dating and the tricks men will play.  I didn't do these things because I wanted to win her back.  I gave up on that pretty quickly.  Of course, I didn't do these things completely because of the promise I made her mom either.  I was also trying to do what was best for our son but the promise was on my mind, too.
     Then when she decided to move away and give me custody of our son I made a very forgiving divorce settlement with her.  Judging from her divorce filing the settlement I made with her was much more forgiving than any settlement she would have made with me if she had the upper hand.  Then since she's moved I've done everything I can to make sure she sees our son as often as she can even when it's meant six hour drives or pinching pennies.  Again, it hasn't been all for her but mostly about what's best for our son.  Still, I can't forget the promise either.
     Since we split though, and especially since she's moved, it hasn't been possible to keep that promise and it has weighed on me because of what she has been through, or put herself through might be the more accurate description.  She sort of came unmoored.  In the two years since then she's lived in four states, in six different houses or apartments, had four different jobs, and has owned four different vehicles.  It worried me but I couldn't do anything about it.  I supposed that she would listen to what I had to say about her life about as much as I would listen to what she had to say about my life so I kept my mouth shut.
     Some people reading this are probably expecting me to write that I felt relieved over her engagement because she was someone else's problem now.  That does sound like something I would say but it wouldn't be true.  She may have caused me some problems but she hasn't been my problem, in that way, since we split.  I've felt the burden of the promise but haven't had responsibility for her if that makes any sense.  The relief I've felt is because her fiance has seemed to help her find her moorings in life and getting engaged is one more sign that her life is going to stabilize.  Marriage is the tie that binds they say and she seems to need that so I'm relieved that she seems to have found it.
     I'll bet people think the anger is easier to understand but unless they've been the custodial parent after a divorce their understanding is likely wrong.  It's not a jealous anger.  Jealousy is there, of course, but it's a tiny twinge of jealousy that's always going to be there.  I can see it in her when I'm with someone and I'm sure she can see it in me. After fifteen years together there is always going to be little bits of flotsam of feelings in the bloodstream of our hearts that will cause those twinges but the time has long since passed that the jealousy would be strong enough to be angering.
     The anger is over it being so much easier for her to find someone.  I don't even know if I want to find someone but I'm still angry that it's easier for her.  It seems it's always easier for the non-custodial parent to find someone else and I'm sure if I cared enough to look I could find data to support that conclusion.  After all, they simply have more time to look.  She has our son four days a month and I have him the rest of the time.  She could date on weeknights and she never had to worry about a babysitter or had to cancel dates because our son got sick.  I'm certain she never had someone say to her that they can't date her because she's too good of a parent as a few women have said to me.
     In all fairness to her, I have to mention that over the summer this situation is reversed but that's ten months compared to two months.  Maybe, it'll help me if I fall in love with a school teacher.  It isn't just the time, though.  She could and did move to find love while I stayed here because I feel it's what's best for our son.  I'm an odd bird, as the saying goes, and I don't think anyone will disagree with that.  As an ex-girlfriend of mine said eccentric attracts eccentric.  Most of them are beautiful and intelligent, thankfully, but there's only a small portion of the population that I'm compatible with.  If I could move to a more populous area I would have a better chance of finding someone but I can't and that pissed me off when I first heard the news that she was engaged.
     There are plenty of reasons that I shouldn't be angry about this and that's why anger was just an immediate emotion I felt and hasn't lasted.  Being the custodial parent helps to weed people out.  Those women that said I'm too good of a father to date, I wouldn't have wanted them anyway.  Plus, I'd be lying to myself if I didn't admit that my parenting is part of the attraction for women that are attracted to me.  I've often been told how cute it is us two guys living on our own.  I've always been slightly offended by that because no one would tell a single mom how cute her difficult living situation is but I keep my mouth shut because I realize that when it comes to sexist remarks women owe men about billion of them.  Besides, they think I'm cute so it's all good.
     I don't even know if I want to find someone and get married anyway.  There's a simpleness to living by myself that appeals to me.  Also, it's pretty cool it being just me and my son.  We've always had a stronger bond than even most fathers and sons but this just makes it get stronger day after day.  If I were forced to answer now I'd say I'm open to a serious relationship with someone if the right person in the right situation comes along but I'm not really looking for one.  So the anger I felt at first has since faded.
     As time has passed the relief has remained but it's a relief that doesn't have much to do with the promise I made her mother.  A while after our marriage ended it sank in that she would eventually find someone else and that worried me.  Someone else was going to come into my son's life that I had no control over choosing.  That was frightening to me. There are some really bad men out there and my ex-wife hasn't always had the greatest of taste.  After all, once upon a time she actually chose me.  I knew my son was going to have a stepdad someday but I didn't like it.
     Now obviously I don't know a whole lot about who her fiance really is.  Guys generally don't reveal themselves to their woman's exes.  Still, he seems mainly to me to be just a nice guy and, all joking aside, that makes sense with my ex-wife's taste in men.  I'm pretty sure she fell for me mainly because I'm a nice guy and that she would tell you she divorced me because I wasn't so nice anymore.  That's true too but she wasn't exactly nice to me anymore either.  Trying to figure out who stopped being nice first is a chicken or egg type thing that's just a waste of time so I don't bother anymore.
     More importantly than me thinking he's nice, our son thinks her fiance is a nice guy.  They get along well and they like each other.  I always assumed I would feel some jealousy if my son bonded with whoever ended up being his stepdad but I haven't.  When I see a picture of the two of them smiling together I'm just happy my son is having a good time.  I think there are a few reasons I don't feel jealous.  My bond with my son is so strong that his bonds with anyone else don't feel at all like a threat to it and to her fiance's credit he doesn't seem to want to be a threat to it or interfere with it at all.  I was lucky enough to have a few extra father figures and have many bonds with men besides my father when I was growing up and it didn't lessen my bond with my father one bit so I know from experience.  Plus, I'm just too relieved about the kind of man her fiance seems to be, to be jealous of him.
     There are, of course, other emotions stirred up by this but they're more subtle, more complex, and would take a novel or two to explain if I was talented enough to be able to. It's mostly relief I feel and because I'm so relieved I'm happy for them and I'm happy for my son.  Since I'm happy about it I'm also a little worried that in describing my immediate reactions I might offend her.  She might not read this but I have a feeling she'll probably be curious so I want to say a few things.  I might have made it sound at times like our marriage going south was all her fault, I think everyone does that to some extent with their past relationships, but I hope she knows I don't actually think that.  She didn't get into our marriage by herself and she didn't get out of it by herself either.  It takes two to tango and two to duel.  She also might be offended by my saying that she became unmoored but I think that if she examines her life since our split she'd realize the truth behind that statement.  She's just another human being trying to figure out life and she has a hard time of it sometimes like the rest of us.  It should just make her feel grateful, and maybe even as relieved as I am, that she seems to have found the man she needs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Ramble On About Relationships

     There's a common complaint about how couples are portrayed on television.  Over and over again we are shown a very attractive woman in a relationship with a less attractive man.  On shows like King of Queens and The Big Bang Theory, to name just two of many examples, we see larger men or nerdy men, men who aren't what society generally considers attractive, coupling with gorgeous women.  This is considered unrealistic especially since we seldom are shown the inverse.  I can't really support this criticism, though, because it just seems like a realistic portrayal of many relationships to me.  I think these sort of couples can be observed quite often in real life with Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett, and, Prince Charles and Princess Diana being two of the more famous examples.
     Women often claim this as proof that they aren't as shallow as men but Magic Mike, Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, my friend's infatuation with Benedict Cumberland, and hundreds of sexy firefighter, cowboy, construction worker, etc etc memes floating around Facebook prove otherwise.  There is a difference in the way men and women generally evaluate attractiveness.  One small detail, like Lyle Lovett's smile or Prince Charles being a Prince, can make a man attractive to a woman while guys tend to be attracted more to the whole and one small detail can make a woman less attractive. That's where horrible terms like butterface come from.  That's much of the reason there is more pressure on women to look perfect.  Yes, much of it is the society and culture we've created that puts this pressure on women but much of the cause of that creation is that one detail can ruin a woman for a man whereas a man often only has to get one thing right, like a sexy beard, to be attractive to a woman.
     Still the phenomenon of men coupling with women that society deems out of their league goes beyond just looks.  There are many doofuses, dorks, and idiots dating amazingly complex, complicated, intelligent, fascinating women.  There are many men that are truly lucky bastards.  I think this is all because of the difference in what men and women look for in a relationship.  Men look for what they think they deserve in a woman while women look for what they think they need in a man.  Both are often wrong about what they need and deserve but that's not the point here.  The point is that there is a huge difference between need and deserve and it makes a huge difference when men and women are looking for a potential significant other.
     The best way I can explain the difference is that people need to eat but they deserve bacon wrapped lobster tail.  I'm saying that I, and I think most guys at one time or another, have been a woman's Hamburger Helper.  I'm easy, convenient, and I fulfill a need and sometimes I don't have a problem with this.  Why then am I pointing this out if it is something that benefits me and guys like me?  It isn't as beneficial as it first seems and often causes problems later in a relationship.
     It leads to resentment from both sides.  A woman will get with a man because he provides security or emotional support or mind blowing orgasms or whatever combination of things she thinks she needs that he supplies.  Then as time goes on she'll think that she wanted a man with a farmer's tan or that was romantic or that gives her mind blowing orgasms and she'll resent him for what he isn't that she wanted him to be.  So she'll ask or demand or cajole the man into trying to be what she wants.  The man then, thinking he deserves her, will be approaching things from a place of entitlement and wonder why he should have to change or be different for her.  After all, he deserves her so he should just get her.  A man thinks he should just have the things he deserves.
     This leads to the whole thing becoming a complicated morass of motivations and desires, like most human relationships, and often it comes crashing down under the weight of it's own problems and perceptions.  So that's the problem, men looking for what they think they deserve in a woman and women looking for what they think they need in a man, and that's why it's a problem.  What's the solution?  For starters, men and women should both change the way they think when looking for a potential significant other.  They shouldn't look for what they think they need or deserve but instead they should look for what they want.  They should be more selfish.
     The way many relationships work, especially the ones that don't work, is that they start out unselfish.  After all, she's what he deserves and he's what she needs so they wouldn't ask for or expect anything more.  Then they gradually become more selfish as they go along because she starts to want more than she needs and he starts to want more than he deserves and they both want to know why the other one can't seem to see what the problem is.  It's human nature.  So I think by being more selfish in the beginning this curve of selfishness could become the inverse of what it normally is. (That's romantic language right there, ain't it?)  I think that when they have what they want people would be more satisfied and more likely to let imperfections slide and a relationship would become less and less selfish over time.
     Of course, there are problems with this approach too.  Our perceptions of what we want can be just as wrong as our perceptions of what we need and deserve.  I might think I want a pretty smile when what a really want is an optimistic person, a person that smiles.  I might think I want someone with a sense of humor when what I really mean is I want someone with a pretty laugh that will get my jokes or at least pretend they do.  I might think I want someone that reads when what I really want is someone that will leave me alone and let me read when I want to.  Most of us only think we know what we want.
     Another problem with this approach is that it's limiting.  I often tell men and women that by not even giving people a chance because of random characteristics, like whether they have facial hair or not, whether they wear glasses or not, whether they're bald or not, or how much they make, could mean missing out.  The perfect man for you might be a bald, bearded, four-eyed factory worker and you would never know because you dismissed him from consideration.  Plus, there are plenty of things, like smartphones and Facebook, that we didn't even know we wanted until after we had them.  What makes us think that characteristics in people can't be the same way?  After all, how often do people not even know they wanted Hamburger Helper until after they started eating it?
     Besides sometimes we aren't as in control of who we're attracted to as we'd like to think we are.  I know from my own efforts at changing the type of women I find myself wanting that it's often a futile effort.  What we find attractive is caused by a confusing combination of our pasts, our past relationships, our personalities, our strengths and weaknesses, pheromones, personality compatibility, and probably a bunch of other things.  The degree of control we have over what is attractive to us might not be very high.  Also, we can't only concern ourselves with who we're attracted to but with who is attracted to us also.  My son once told me, jokingly I hope, that he wanted a rich, redneck stepmom but redneck women tend not to be attracted to me and I don't come across too many, or really any, single rich women.  So I can want a wealthy, country girl all I want but it ain't going to happen.
     So looking for what we want instead of what we think we need or deserve will only be part of the solution.  The other part I think is to just be mindful of these differences in perspectives while we're in relationships.  If you aren't getting what you want in a relationship stop and evaluate if what you want is truly necessary to your happiness.  If it is and things can't be changed cut and run.  Don't feel guilty for getting yourself and someone else in that position to begin with.  Everyone makes these kind of mistakes at one time or another and besides that other person is just as responsible for causing the situation as you are and human nature and the natures of men and women are probably most responsible of all.  Stop blaming yourself and feeling like a failure.  If you know things can't be changed and you aren't happy get out because the relationship was probably doomed from the beginning.  I've had a few women do this to me, really for me, and after I got over my sadness I've always been grateful to them.  It's best for everyone in the long run.
     The best example I know of this is with an ex of mine.  We were going at each other like it was the Airing of Grievances during Festivus and I finally said something along the lines of this is who I am and this is what I can do for you.  Then I said, "If I can't be enough for you then let me go."  Her response was, "Okay, I am."  It was sad, awful, almost tragic and very beautiful.  There can be just as much beauty in endings as beginnings it's just harder to see.  I think we proved how much we really did care for each other right there in the end of our relationship.  Honesty is just as important in the end of things as during any other time in a relationship.
     So what do all these words I've written mean for me or anyone else?  I'm not sure.  If I knew I probably wouldn't be single.  I do know though that it's good to think about all of this before and during a relationship and I'm going to try to do more of that.  Most of the time I just let a relationship take it's course without considering if I really want it to be where it is or where it's going or even thinking about where it is going.  I'm going to try to think about things more in the beginning of and during my next relationship.  I'm not going to be like a lot of women and be sitting there on a first date wondering if I could ever marry this person but I'm going to move more in that direction.  It's strange that I think that thinking more could be an improvement in relationships because in most other things in life my biggest fault is that I think too much.  Still, relationships aren't like most other things in life and there's no one size fits all fix for life's problems anyway.
     In the meantime, when I see an average guy with a beautiful gal on television I'm not going to sit there and think it's unrealistic and shake my head.  Instead I'm going to smile and laugh about how that idiot thinks he deserves her and that moron thinks she needs him and I'm going to remember that I'm really smiling and laughing at myself and that will amuse me even more.  After all, most of the women I've been with have been out of my league and I've always had a very good time until they've figured it out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Am Tired

     I have no excuse for not posting for two months except that I've been tired and that it's not the only New Year's resolution myself, and most everyone else, has backslid on. There's good tired, there's bad tired, there's I have a child tired, and there's I can't be bothered to clean up the six rolls of toilet paper my cat tore to shreds tired. I've been all of those.
     Quite frankly, i've been pretty much exhausted for most of this year. When I admit this to someone they always ask if I'm sick or depressed because there must be something wrong for me to be exhausted. Really? I didn't realize I was that energetic of a guy in the first place. I'm happy most of the time like anyone else. Physically, I'm good. I'm just fucking tired.
     It seems anymore we forget that fatigue isn't always a sign of physical or mental illness. It isn't a weakness. Fatigue is sometimes just fatigue. It's your mind and body telling you that you're doing too much, asshole. Yes, my mind and body call me an asshole. I don't blame them, though, with everything I do to them.
     I've been bouncing from shift to shift at work. That's the main culprit. It's an old story. The gears of a corporation must turn constantly and when you're needed at the crank the corporation doesn't really give a shit about you or your family. A corporation isn't even capable of caring because, despite what the Supreme Court thinks, a corporation isn't a person. They have become so they aren't even a collection of people anymore but just a mechanism to make money.
     I know there are, and have always been, people that work swing shifts as a regular thing. There are coal miners that
switch shifts every week, truck drivers that don't know what a regular work week is, paramedics and firefighters and police that work insane hours, and, of course, soldiers that don't really have days or even hours off. I have three things to say about that. There's usually some kind of order to it whereas my bouncing between shifts has been random, I'm grateful those people do what they do but I think they're crazy too, and most of those people aren't single parents.
     My son has always been taken care of during this period. I would have quit my job if there was any chance he wouldn't have been. As if we're both more handsome versions of Ringo Starr, my son and I get by with a little help from our friends. I feel like I should add and family to that but that would be unnecessary words and you can probably tell how much I hate unnecessary words. I'm one of those fortunate individuals who can count most of his family as friends too.
     Still there's the constant stress and energy of making sure, when my shift requires it, there is someone lined up to watch my son. Then there's everything else. There's laundry, dishes, vacuuming, bill paying, errand running, and everything else. No one seems willing to do those for me, at least not for what I can afford to pay. When I'm on dayshift continously I fall into a nice routine that allows me to maintain those things, if not well, at least good enough. When I get tossed to another shift it throws everything off for not just that week but the first week I'm back on days, too. And lately I've been thrown around all over the place.
     It isn't just the random shift switches, though. There's another reason I've managed to be as tired as someone that's too tired to think of a good metaphor and yet haven't really gotten anything done either. I guess it's a question of priorities. On the weekends I have my son I do things with him whether it's hiking or just hanging at home playing video games especially if I've been on second shift and we haven't seen each other all week. I'll do just enough dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping to get us by and spend the rest of my time with him. I know there are people that consider a clean house essential to a child's life but I'm not one of them. I'm pretty sure time with me will have a bigger effect on his life than time spent cleaning.
     It sounds like that time should at least be restful but anyone that has a child, and especially anyone that knows my son, should know it isn't. Even if we're just watching TV together, which doesn't happen too often, he tries to maintain a constant conversation and he'll bounce around like a madman. It seems like he thinks commercial breaks are just an excuse to bounce on Dad, too. He has all the energy I don't have and then some. I love and, mostly, enjoy the hell out of it but I'll never call time spent with him restful or relaxing.
     Priorities come into play on the weekends my son is with his mom, too. I have to drive him up on Friday and pick him up on Sunday so those days are mostly shot. So on Saturday do I catch up on my cleaning and chores during the day and rest up at night? If you think the answer is yes you don't know me very well and you haven't been paying attention. During the day I'll mostly read or play a game. Take some me time basically because I barely know what me time is anymore. That's another reason I haven't been writing much; writing takes me time. Then at night I'll go out and have fun and do all sorts of adult stuff I don't get to do much any other time. I prioritize myself over everything else one day every other weekend. It's selfish but it's part of being a good parent too. My son doesn't need a father who is completely batshit crazy.
     I should be back on dayshift to stay for awhile starting next week though and after the adjustment period everything should get easier. It still won't be easy but I don't know how to finish that thought. I do know that I look forward to getting back to writing here and feel like I almost need to. I have material saved up. My ex wife got engaged and I'm sure I have something to say about that. There's two weekends in January I want to compare and contrast and tell amusing stories about my son one weekend and a singer that stuffs his pants and feeling like the oldest guy in the bar the next weekend. I also wrote about my first girlfriend on here and intended that to be a series. I have ideas.
     So I apologize for going so long without writing. I'm just tired and a parent and a whiner. Besides creative types tend to go through periods of intense output followed by periods of laziness. And if you're thinking that I'm not a creative type please just humor me. So I should be making up for my absence over the next couple of weeks and if not summer, when my son is with his mother, is not far away. I should get some rest then if you consider sitting around by myself, missing my son, and writing self depreciating blog posts to be restful.