On Royal Weddings, PDA, and the Preservation of Love

22 05 2018

I’m not a royal fan, though I give the Queen all sorts of credit for serving her office with

harry-22 grace and charm throughout some tumultuous years. I’ve always been suspicious of inherited positions and wealth – it’s so cynical of me because of course, I inherited privilege as well – a healthy upbringing, sort of, good food, education, support. I suspect people feel the same way about me as I do about the royals.

This wedding, of Harry and Meghan, well, it won me over. It was THEIR wedding in so many ways, less pomp and more love. Lots of PDA. Hand holding! Who’d ever thunk it?

Weddings are funny things, anyway. You and some other person you think you love stand before all your mother’s friends and tell each other that you will stay with them forever, and then you go back and lead your own lives, sometimes stuck together or not. What, me bitter? Naw.

wedding-disasterMy ex and I dined out on the disastrous story that was our wedding day for years. It was horrible from stem to stern and at the time I was so proud that I held it all together. I’ve always been proud of holding it all together. It’s a thing.

I held it together that day when my father was taken out in an ambulance just before the wedding photographer arrived. I held it together when I knew he was in horrible pain, and yet my mother wanted to ensure the whole party went on. I held it together when my ex looked at me in horror at the altar (to be fair, he thought my dad had died). I didn’t complain when I started vomiting wildly on the wedding night, thanks to the impact of erythromycin, a dental infection, and champagne on my stomach, even though my ex never awoke as I shivered and retched. I didn’t fall apart when we went to the hospital to see my father the next day, and he struggled to keep back the tears.

I didn’t comment when my brother’s poor girlfriend had a mental breakdown because of the rudeness of one member of our family, I didn’t even offer my sympathy (I was overseas, but that’s no excuse – I probably felt in my mind that she was showing weakness.) And I didn’t even lose it when I realized I’d worked six months to pay for my mother’s friends to have a party. Or when my sister’s wedding got so much more support. (The family was accustomed to weddings by that point, less of a shock, and she is much better at stating her wants than I. Though she had her sorrows too – dad was long gone by then)

I’m good at holding things together, at least until lately. So why did I burst into tears at seeing Harry weep? At seeing their hands tightly clasped?

Ah, regrets, I’ve had a few. What possessed me to marry a man so afraid of PDA (public STOP-NO-TOUCH-TALK-EYE-CONTACTdisplays of affection) that I went without a kiss for 23 years, except in “certain situations”? I was raised in a home scarce in physical affection, and I hungered for it like an abandoned puppy. By the time my marriage ended, I was looking at men thirstily on the street, wondering, if I asked them politely, if they’d kiss me, just once. I went to my dentist just to feel his hands on my face. I screenshot-2018-02-12-11-37-34remember my doctor touching my shoulder once, briefly, when I got my diagnosis of MS. I feel every touch every man has given me. God knows there have been few enough of them. I fell in love at the first man who was kind to me, who gentled me. Sadly, he was the only fellow I’ve met in all the years since I left my ex that was trustworthy with me. And he was lying to someone else.

818741c5b89bab894c5bad43ef3e4896It just about killed me, those years of affection desert. It’s taken me years to admit that I am a touch junkie (thus the needle felting in soft fuzzy wool, the craving for milk chocolate.) It’s taken me longer to understand that love requires regular feeding and care, regular laughter, regular kisses, regular touches, regular attention.

Just before the end of my marriage, I used to insert nonsense words into what I was saying just to test if he was actually hearing me. He wasn’t until he learned the phrase I was saying. We laughed over it. I was good at holding things together.

It’s taken me even longer to understand that holding things together isn’t necessarily a good thing.

So, this royal wedding made me think of my ex, now remarried to a lovely lass who is much better at speaking up. I wonder if he’s happy (ier).

I know I am lonely. Not for him. But for a kindred spirit, a companion with hugs. And perhaps a little coziness. I wonder what it would feel like to be with someone who wasn’t afraid to hold my hand and weep a little with me at the beauty of love, even if all sorts of people are watching. I’m tired of holding myself together. Sometimes I need a hug to pull in all my bits.

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On geese, and horrible people, and fear for the future

9 08 2017

B3aAGO4CIAABRHL.jpg-largeI’m not ordinarily an anxious person. Life flows by and stuff happens and it bothers me, but I don’t usually have the sense of creeping dread that envelops me now.

It seems like human beings are losing their compass if indeed we ever had one.  Of course, there is the madness south of our Canadian border. The opening of a Pandora’s box of latent racism and sexism and general horribleness that is likely to get us into a war sooner than later. (question: is it okay to leave most of the government seats empty and run it like a dictatorship? Why hasn’t anyone stopped this?)

And, with the example of a badly out of control, ignorant and nasty president, suddenly the rest of the planet thinks they can let their ghouls out. It’s horrifying to see all the gains by women and people of colour and GLBTQ+ folks being eroded day by day.  And although there is resistance, it doesn’t seem to matter!

sullivans-pond-geeseHere where I live, the gangs are back. There are regular knifings and random attacks. That’s bad enough, but some jerk used his car to deliberately squash the geese who live peaceably in our local pond. Everyone loves the geese. We all pause and let them cross the road. It’s a big event when they come out of their winter home and waddle to the pond.

How does one explain to a kid about this jerk’s actions? Or the president’s actions? Or the needless shunning of one group of people by another?

How can we explain it to ourselves? How can we be rendered so powerless so quickly? Or was it an illusion of power all along?

I’m kind of a Pollyanna type. I like to see the good in everyone. It’s becoming harder and harder to spot it amongst the daily insults that I see being visited on people every day.

I could cry about the driver and the geese. What made him/her do that? (though I am sure it was a man, somehow). And yet, that’s a small thing compared to the risk of war that will kill many more living things. Or the current wars that are already laying countries waste. Or the horrific treatment of refugees who have fled from starvation. Or the incredible death and destruction we are causing in our oceans and on land through selfishness and greed.

Honestly, I am not an end times gal. But what is going on now makes me almost wish it were the end times. It’s getting too heartbreaking to watch.





Single and over sixty: solitude or sorrow?

5 11 2016

solitudeI’ve recently had the chance to speak with several over-60-year-old men, and women, about relationships, being single, loneliness.

Well, okay, some of these were dates. Some were laughter over dates. Some were thought provoking, others broke my heart.

We all handle being alone differently. Many of the women I know who are single seem happy to stay that way, at least for now. They are tired from years of sharing their lives with children or family members and are still craving the gentle solitude of a solo cup of coffee in the morning, or a cuddle with their pet in the evening, when they are weary and don’t want to talk.

north-coast-nosh-capper-coffee

coffee. peace. quiet.

Or they want to take off on women-only trips around the world where they can just go and be without the need to perform.

But they are a self-selected group. I hang out with independent (some may say too independent) women.

I also know so many women whose lives are destroyed by solitude, who must have companionship, preferably male and human, to survive. These women are shattered by divorce and find it intolerable to live alone. They, too, break my heart. No one should be alone who doesn’t want to be…but on the other hand…part of being a good partner is learning to be good on your own, I think.

For me, I may more be one of those independent women who prefers to live in MY space, to invite friends to visit, but never ever to stay. Not to say I don’t like the visitors…

axe-man_zpsmfukqwlb

not a real man in a cabin, though the axe might be real.

I know a few independent men, too. But they seem smaller in number, perhaps because they are out in the woods somewhere living in a cabin and so I don’t meet them often.

Most of the older men I meet are painfully lonely. It breaks my heart. I seriously think men find it harder to be alone, struggle more with their sense of self-worth than women do, on average. They seem driven more by the need to make love/have sex/fornicate than women let show. They wake in the mornings dreaming of sex, they go to bed thinking of it. Without it, a huge part of their inner selves seems to wither.

So what does an aging man have to offer a woman? They don’t seem to know. Instead of seeking companionship, shared interests, etc, they look for younger and younger partners, hoping their flagging sexuality can be enlivened by a more active lass. They tell themselves lies about their fitness, desirability, general selves. And so they doom themselves to failure and loneliness. They aren’t used to hanging out with guys, most of them, so they end up isolated. It’s terribly sad.

Oh, and they judge women, by scores they don’t apply to themselves. In happy delusion,

judge_weird

One of my recent dates, examining my height

they seek tens, when they themselves are 4s or 5s, or on a good day, a 7. I had a 400 pound man tell me that he didn’t think I looked THAT overweight (in tones of condescension). I’ve had people suffering bankruptcy tell me I was getting a good catch who would look after me. Riiiiiiiiight.

They don’t think about evolving themselves to fit the needs of women in their age group, to read, to learn, to cook, to be responsible, to be independent and self-supporting. To have let go of anger. That is unutterably sexy. Women who have spent years looking after people don’t want to meet someone who, on first acquaintance, obviously needs looking after. And so many men have interesting lives, if only they would share them in a non-self-aggrandizing way.

So women are stuck in a bind if we want companionship. No one our age wants us – men seem to want women ten to twenty years younger. The ones twenty years older than us want us, but they are often looking for someone of their porn dreams, someone to care for them, someone to adore them, as they were adored when they were young and fit and had their future ahead of them. Oh, and someone who wants to make love all the time.(One chubby fellow I dated showed me his sticky little book of sexual positions, many of them life-endangering. When I laughed out loud at one contortion, he said, sure, we could do that. No, I said. I’m not standing on my head for anyone. Sorry. That was that. I washed my hands and left.)

518ldvbqs-l-_ul1200_Or they want a nurse, preferably one who would wear that sexy nurse outfit while massaging their feet.

Dating is perilous in this age group. If you meet and decide he isn’t for you, and you try to let him down gently, you run the risk of being stalked, as you try to peel his tentacles off of you.

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If you are clear with them, you are a bitch who only values money. (or healthy teeth or someone who lives responsibly or someone who doesn’t spend every spare minute looking at porn on a 60 inch tv set). They get furious at you.

Either way, dating feels more dangerous than it should.

Other men are so sad and hopeful you want to be kind, you err in kindness, you give mixed messages to try not to hurt, you hope they will break up with you so you don’t have to deal the crushing blow. They, understandably, get confused, and you end up hurting them anyway. Or vice versa.

So for those women who want male companionship with a little naughty icing, they have a challenge.

But thank heavens, we seem better suited to solitude. And as for me, male friends rock. More than that, I dunno.

Maybe that’s why so many of us are into crafting with our friends. js23831350

Off to needle felting I go….

 

 





Connecting with a romantic partner

24 07 2013

Had a recently met fellah tell me that he was amazed at all the wonderful women out in the world and that he wondered if men were keeping up.

Answer: no.

I believe there are so many wonderful women out on the dating sites because you men are NOT keeping up. You might look at stepping up your game. Especially if you want to keep us.

I say all this with affection and a little bit of exasperation. I’ve met a lot of wonderful men over these second-time-round dating years and it’s been entertaining, interesting, and sometimes a bit scary.

If you ever wonder why we women are becoming more hesitant and less open with you guys, perhaps it’s time to look inside.

We really don’t want to hear about your crazy ex. Trust me, we know that if she was crazy, part of you either likes that or causes it. Either – not good. Come to terms with that relationship before you start another.

We don’t scope you out for money resources. We do want to know you can handle money like a responsible adult. Many of you are looking for someone to feed and house you. What’s in it for us? Not anything we want or can’t get elsewhere.

We’re not therapists. Deal with your issues before you go a-hunting. Come to us relatively whole and we’re thrilled. I’m a nurse, for heaven’s sake, and I’ll be darned if I am going to do psychological counselling for free.

We don’t stalk you if things don’t go well. That’s just creepy and potentially a chargeable offence. When things are over, let them be over. Unless you’ve established a friendship, let her go, man.

We don’t take one look and discard you. Maybe you could try that, too. I know a guy who dropped a lass he was quite deeply involved with because there was something “not quite right with her face”. It wasn’t bad enough to make him not sleep with her, though. I suppose he kept his eyes shut.

Ach, I am sounding bitter, and that’s not me. I adore several of the men I’ve met, and many are good friends. But every once and awhile I wish a contender for something more might appear.

And then I am disappointed, and look into cats. Not the same, yes, but feeding them is easy, they keep a bed warm, and they purr.

PS: I know all of this can go for any gender. We all need to be more grown-up out there. Be kind to each other.

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Happy Year of the Snake! Or is it?

10 02 2013

ImageOr as many of my woman friends would say, “EEEEEKS!”

What IS that? Why does it seem more women than men are afraid of snakes? According to a bunch of reports, men and women are equally afraid of snakes, and it’s based on some rudimentary and ultimately sensible fear of things that can kill us. And/or eat us whole.

But we women get to wear the fear thing more openly. Poor men have to look fierce and not quiver as hairy spiders crawl up their legs or as snakes swim by them in the lake. We get to do the girlie thing and scream and point and get them to get rid of the thing.

Or at least, sometimes. I’ve had to rid my world of creepy crawlies solo a fair bit of the time – dealing with bats and crunchie bugs and spiders without recourse to screaming and begging for help. In one way, it’s empowering.

In another, it’s almost a good enough reason to take on a man.

So what does the year of the snake mean for romance, besides the urge to scream when you get one of the commemorative postage stamps on a letter?Image

According to one predictor, this year romance is only good for dragons. Everyone else is to be careful about love, affairs, and all that. There’s lots of infidelity, some coolness. Oh, and dogs (like me) are supposed to get married. I laugh. Even if I do like the spider removal…

In general things, this year of the Black Snake is supposed to be about caution and diligence, despite the urge to get in touch with your artsy side and spiritual innards. So, general frustration combined with hard work. Not sure how this will translate into romance and love…though keeping a relationship going is largely frustration combined with hard work, plus the spicing of love and lust and intimacy. And ignoring of soup slurping.Image

So maybe it isn’t all bad news, in this new year of slithery things.

As for me, I’m keeping my snake net handy. I am not counting on having anyone rescue me as yet.

 





Loving and the tummy

7 02 2013

Okay. I’m round. I’ve always been round, pretty much. I’ve just varied in terms of degree.

It’s depressing, in one way – people judge me based on my weight and decide I am stupid, or lazy, or desperate for love, or have low self-esteem. None of those is true.

I merely enjoy life, and all the chocolate and wine and tasty things (primarily involving cheese) in it. I’m not greedy – I’ll bet I eat less than 80% of the people in North America. My MS means I can’t always exercise as hard as I’d like to, but I try. I’m fit, have muscles your average weightlifter might desire, and can and do swim many many laps without stopping to catch my breath. Add to that I am smart and confident and perfectly okay with myself, though I long for nicer clothing. But no one looking at me would think that.

ImageFunny thing is that once people actually get to know me, they adjust to all that. They seem to realize that this is just the way I was born and I can exercise and exercise and I’ll always look chunky. (Although presumably less chunky than I do right now, the fault of a medication I was placed on that guaranteed I would gain 25 pounds “on average”.) I have broad shoulders and ribs and my huge first pregnancy destroyed my abdominal muscles, (Children, drat them! And does she call? Does she buy me presents?)

But its funny about the first introduction thing. I met a fellow today and I have to say I worried a bit about whether he would take one look at me and say “too fat” and walk away, like one of my former dates did. That guy explained, helpfully, that he was a “visual person” and he couldn’t handle my appearance. He had crazy grey hair and was wearing Birkenstocks with socks.

It was kindof funny because once we started chatting (I forced him to say hello), he told me about all his weird theories of life and his food “allergies” and his strange background. What the heck made him think I would automatically want HIM? To be fair, I only wanted to meet him because he was an artist and we had a fascinating discussion about degrees of white. I knew it wasn’t going to work out.

Ah, men, men. You’ve got to pity them, sometimes. They believe, so totally, their own personal stories (or as my galpal says, their bulls**^). We women, instead, go about beating ourselves to a pulp and so are trained to feel grateful for any small attention.

Not all men, I hasten to add. Some of them are quite pleasant and wonderful and can understand that they probably have as many faults as we do.

Those ones are pretty darn refreshing. Even if they have a tummy.Image





Sexual politics and boundaries and the messiness of both

12 04 2012

Lately I’ve been involved in a bit of reading and discussion about sexual politics and etc. The politics started with the excellent book by Laura Kipnis, The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability. It’s well worth a read, well-written, funny, and to the point, about the foolishness of the roles we assign ourselves as women and have assigned to us.

ImageThe etc. has been the subject of much earthier discussion. Emails flew around about what men and women think about during sex – which, for me at least, usually includes some feelings of self-doubt, some obsessive compulsive thoughts about appliances turned off or on, mutterings of delight or despair. I don’t know if this is a universal experience, I can only speak for myself, and to tell you the truth, I’m not that comfy discussing these things in specific, though general is okay, thanks to my background as a nurse.

There are boundaries, though. I’ve broken a few of them now and again. During some misspent time, I remember being delighted about my sex life and going about glowing about it. That wasn’t right. It’s like eating chocolate and then going to a Weight Watchers meeting and telling everyone how good it was, how it melted on your tongue, how you can eat it by the pound and remain slim. Some things shouldn’t be shared. The gods watch. They keep tallies. They note if you are having too much fun and then they teach you a lesson.

Karma sucks. That’s all I’ll say.

Besides, no one wants to hear about your sexual experiences. Nope. They don’t mind READING about them in a storyImage or a letter to Penthouse (whatever) but being told leads to inevitable comparisons between your life and that of the speaker. It’s like that old Desiderata line: If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

And advice is best given in generalities, knowing that each person will take what they need, reject the rest. Free advice is worth what you pay for it, as they say. It can be offensive, even without meaning to.

I guess the thing is, we wander alone in our heads. Our thoughts are not like anyone else’s. Our self-view and history and background and comfort level are unique. Though, in general things, too, we often offer advice, we really don’t know the lives of those we advise. It’s hard to understand where people’s lives have led them, or where they plan to head as they evolve. We don’t know how past experiences have affected them, or haven’t. What upsets one person can fly by another. What seems simple to one is impossible to another.

compare human life to a large mansion of many apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors of the rest being as yet shut upon me

 John Keats quotes (

We need to be respectful of the squashy borders around people. If we want to reach them, perhaps writing is the best approach. It’s an intimate conversation where it won’t matter if the reader blushes, reads voraciously, or tosses the book away. In addition, it is a personal conversation, not global. The characters in the books have experiences we may not want but from which we may learn. It doesn’t say we must all do this, or be found lacking.

Thank heavens.








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