Everything is Temporary (aka: Non-Attachment)

I know it’s ironic, but I’m rather attached to the Buddhist principle of non-attachment. The basic idea is that our attachments – to people, to things, to ambitions – lead to inevitable suffering. How to avoid suffering? Remain detached.


I don’t think this means that we should not bond with others, as bonding is necessary for healthy relationships with other human beings. Non-attachment is more like living in acceptance of the constant flux of life. People change. Children grow. Relationships change. Nothing stays exactly the same no matter how much we fight it. Instead of allowing ourselves to become too attached to how we think people should be, or how we want things to be, we can choose to remain open to the possibility that nothing is permanent.

Everything is temporary.

A few months ago, I made a foray into the strange and scary world of online dating. (Yes, I know. About time!) I bought a subscription to a well-known paid dating site, which presented me with a lot of nothing, a little meh, one maybe that turned quickly into a maybe-not, and then…POW! Just when I was ready to give up, I met my dream guy. Not kidding. This man was my ideal match in every possible way. So much so, that My coworkers, kids, and I jokingly referred to him as Mr. TGTBT (To Good to Be True). And as our online and cell phone encounters advanced to real-life get-togethers, I became more and more enamored with him. Aside from our incredibly long list of similarities, Mr. TGTBT was also kind, funny, attractive, and intelligent. And he was into me, too – wow! Needless to say, we both had a wonderful time whenever we were together.

Until we broke up this week.

So what happened? He was also dating another women he’d met on the same dating site, and chose her instead of me. Yeah. Ouch.

I cried, of course. It was painful to be rejected (again). But more than that, it was painful to realize that I will never get to spend time with him again. Painful to lose someone after finally letting down my walls and sharing so much of myself. Painful to say goodbye to someone who had quickly become a very important person to me.

But then, the tears subsided. Because I remembered. Remembered all I’ve been through, and all I’ve learned from past years of suffering. Remembered that the pain does not have to equal suffering. Remembered that I now know the secret to letting go is to never hold on in the first place.

And there it was – acceptance. It was not like I had ended a very real and meaningful, if short, relationship. It felt more like I had awoken from a very pleasant dream. One which I would be happy to return to, with him. But still, no more than a dream. Mr. TGTBT was just that. No person in real life can be that perfect for you. No real-life romance could be that sweet. And maybe in that dream world I had to let go of, he will go on to find happiness with the other woman, and the idea of him being happy makes me feel happy, even if he is not with me.

Well, mostly happy. I do have this constant knot in my stomach that makes it hard to eat. But like dreams, like friendships, like romance, like everything in life, that, too, is temporary.

So now, the Best Dream Ever has ended, and I return to real life, here in the Cave. Real life of challenging myself in my career, and raising teens, and discovering great new books to read, and eating healthy (once my appetite returns), and exercising, and writing stories, and learning, and growing. It is a peaceful kind of life, and content. None of the drama, insecurity, or angst that seem to go hand-in-hand with relationships. I’ve canceled my dating site membership and have no plans to ever date again. No, not due to bitterness, or the hurt of rejection. That’s not it at all. It’s this: after Mr. TGTBT, I know that it’s all downhill. No real life man will ever be able to measure up. And I have no desire to challenge that theory. Period.

Maybe I have managed to figure out the art of non-attachment, but I have not managed to figure out people. How is it that so many people can allow themselves to be vulnerable, to share so much with another human being, knowing that it will all be temporary? To know that an important person will fade away, still clutching the treasures you gave them, and then to go out and do it all over again with another person? And another? Doesn’t it seem pointless? Doesn’t it seem as fruitless as a wonderful dream, which too, will fade away like it never happened? Isn’t the pain unbearable, especially for those of you who choose to love deeply, to hold on tightly? What is the prize you win for suffering?

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Barefoot is Better (aka: Online Pairing)

Two days ago, I decided it was time to go shopping for a package of socks. It’s not that I really felt that I needed to wear socks. I’m quite content to pad around the house in my bare feet. There’s a lot of freedom in going barefoot, in fact. My feet are always cool and comfortable, and my toes have all the space they need to wiggle around. I can dig my toes into the sand, or let the grass tickle the soles of my feet, just like when I was a little girl. I can even get creative with my own feet, painting my toenails any fun color I want, without an oppressive pair of socks coming along to cover them up.

It is liberating, being sock-less.

barefoot is better

But every so often, I glance around at the feet of other people. And I realize something — many, many people wear socks. And the ones who are not wearing socks are often out shopping for socks, or lamenting over their lack of socks. Some people even seem to wear a different pair of socks every day.

Sole-Mates Socks

Going barefoot all the time, it seems, is rather unusual in the world of grownups. Everyone else acts like the purpose of life is to find a sole-mate. (See what I did there?)

I have also noticed that there are certain things that one doesn’t do without wearing socks. At least, not as well. For example, I do not ever go out to restaurants in my bare feet. Nor to concerts, or live sporting events, or out-of-town fun trips, or wine-tasting, or a number of other things that sound like they would be really, really fun to do one day. But not barefoot. That would just be…awkward.

And so, I signed up to go shopping at a popular (and expensive) virtual store that specializes in socks for the sock-less. Just as advertised, after I answered a series of questions ranging from silly to deeply personal, the site’s algorithms selected a variety of socks for me to consider, some of which were selected as being highly “compatible” with my feet.

At first, it was amusing to sift through the socks. They came in every imaginable size, and lots of patterns. There were some with serious, no-nonsense pinstripes, some with goofy, rainbow-colored polka-dots, and even a couple of plain ones filled with so many holes, I wonder how on earth they made it past quality assurance to wind up on my dashboard.

lots of different socks

I even got a couple of messages from some of the socks, and responded politely (because apparently, exchanging polite chit-chat is something socks can do on online stores). Some of the messages made me smile, and a couple, well, made my bare feet want to run away. I wondered, though, what was supposed to happen next. Was I supposed to utter some magic words in order to check the socks out of the store? Is there some point when I’m supposed to wear them around once or twice, maybe to a restaurant,  or a sporting event, or a concert? Or is it up to the sock to make that happen?

And would it be frowned-upon to write “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing,” on my profile? I feel clueless, like a child who has just wandered into a casino, and is overwhelmed by the loud, clanging, buzzing machines, and choking on the smoke of cigarettes.

It also occurred to me that a large number of the socks were silent. No polite conversations. No peeks at my barefoot profile. Part of me understands that this is normal. That it’s all part of the sock-and-foot matching world. And that its only been two days. But another part of me feels indignant, certain that it has something to do with the toasty-brown shade of the skin on my feet. Because, I’m guessing, not a single one of my chosen matched socks has ever been worn by a toasty-brown foot before. Peachy-tan feet, probably, or rosy beige, or creamy ivory. But perhaps they see toasty brown feet and get nervous, their little sock minds filling with all kinds of ignorant ideas about what I must be like, due to my brownness.

I am halfway tempted to create an identical profile to my own, but put up pictures of a woman who looks similar to me, but with lighter skin, just to test that theory. But I won’t. Because if that really is the issue, then whatevs. Any er…sock who is unable to look past the color of my skin in order to see the kind, intelligent, thoughtful, witty, talented woman I am does not deserve to grace even one of my feet.

Sim Tiare

White Sim Tiare

And anyway, it’s okay if nothing comes of my browsing around the online sock store. In fact, it would be a bit of a relief. Then I will not have to reveal myself as a fraud — one who is so perfectly comfortable going sock-less, and so horribly out of her element with socks on her feet. They will be expecting me to love wearing socks and shoes, like so many other people do. Then I will have to wear them, because I am committed to do so, and will have to go back to tiptoeing around my home in discomfort, my poor toes squeezed and pinched, my feet blistered from friction…

It is oh-so-easy for me to talk myself out of visiting the sock store. Maybe it means I am still not ready, even after years of being sock-free. Maybe it means that I will never be ready; that I am a rare individual who simply was not meant to wear socks. I guess I will go and take a nice long, barefoot walk in the grass and think it all through. Because that is what I do best.

A Hot Not-Date (aka: Spring Cleaning)

I have a hot date this weekend.

But first, let me explain. You see, spring is about to spring. And spring, with its warm, sweet weather and flower-tipped trees, has a way of turning one’s thoughts toward love, and frolicking in meadows, and sunshiny fresh air.

And so, I have a date this weekend, with this tall, well-built, bald man. You’ve probably heard his name before: Mr. Clean.

Irresitible Mr Clean

That’s right. What can I say? Thanks to a super-busy schedule of work and college classes and kids’ activities and sports, I have had very little time or energy to devote to cleaning house. And so, my not-quite-Martha-Stewart but still passable housekeeping levels have slipped to a not-quite-reality-TV-hoarder but still-needs-major-improvement levels.  When I saw Mr. Clean in the store, I fell hard. I couldn’t resist his twinkling eyes, or his promise to turn our messy house into a shining, spotless home. Mr. Clean is just the guy to turn my spring-cleaning dreams into reality.

Wait –you thought I was talking about going out on an actual date? What, me, leave behind my cozy cave of Netflix and books and computers? Me, venture out alone into the real world and try to make sense of human relationships? Very funny. It’s nice to know that my readers have a sense of humor.

Okay, I get it. No one expects a smart, talented, and fairly attractive 40 year-old woman to stay single for very long. The world expects me to get out there, place an advertisement the way one sells a used car. Join a dating site! Flirt with real, live men who are not cartoon models for cleaning products! Start a romantic relationship that doesn’t happen only in your imagination!

zodiac killersBut here’s the big problem: that whole world of mean and dating and relationships is frightening. Like, scarier than Children of the Corn frightening (and let me tell you – those were some creepy little kids). I’m more the type of woman who avoids eye contact or conversation with strange men than the type who looks forward to going out on dates with total strangers, all of whom are probably the Zodiac Killer (no offense to Ted Cruz).

How ridiculous! You say. Cleaning house is far more nerve-wracking than dating. Just think of what fuzzy blue horrors await you at the back of the refrigerator!

Ahh, this is true. Cleaning out my fridge is a frightening challenge. It’s…um…been a while. And yes, the food in the back has probably become an entire new species of living things. But hey – I have Mr. Clean to tackle the dirty work, and even cleaning out my icky fridge seems far less daunting and much more fun than dating.

online-dating no way

See, here’s another big problem: I am bad at romantic relationships. After a failed 17-year marriage and one attachment-free post-divorce fling, I am convinced that I was not made for relationships. Men apparently have these expectations of what a woman should be like, or how we should perform or behave or respond, and I tend to do everything the opposite. Blame it on my alien roots, I guess. But there was nothing rewarding to me about any of it, and a lot of messy emotions and expectations and drama that don’t mesh well with my INTJ personality.

Ugh.

And so, I am spending one of my kid-free weekends cleaning my house, because scrubbing toilets is a lot less confusing than dating. Vacuuming floors is a lot less stressful than the reality of romantic relationships. Organizing my closet is a lot more gratifying than sex ever was. And teaming up with Mr. Clean is far more rewarding than searching for Mr. Probably-Doesn’t-Exist-Single-Guy-Who’s-Right-for-Me. Because after all my effort, my kids and I will get to enjoy a cozy, clean home that smells like fresh, sunshiny air.

Happy (Almost) Spring!

Pulizie di primavera - Spring Cleaning

 

Who is this Girl From Jupiter Anyway? (aka: 10 More Things About Me)

Concept image of the six most common questions and answers on a signpost.Okay, let me begin by saying that I usually never, ever participate in these blog nomination/chain-letter type games that a lot of other bloggers seem to be into. It’s just not my thing. But I am feeling a bit uninspired this week, so I guess answering these ten simple questions may make for an interesting blog post.

Second thing you should know: I have no intentions of playing by the rules. What rules, you ask? Well, apparently, I’m supposed to follow these rules:

The rules are as follows:
1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you and answer their 10 questions
2. Add the badge to your post
3. Write your own 10 questions and tag 10 bloggers to do the same

Okay, I’ll follow rule #1, because it’s only fair. I was nominated to answer these questions by Sandra G at http://datebynumb3r.com/ . So yes, by all means, click the link, check out her blog, and share a piece of life with an honest and sincere blogger who’s stumbling through the ups and downs of single life like so many of us.

As for #3, well, I have no clue whatsoever which bloggers I would nominate to answer any questions I come up with. So that’s not going to happen, either. But to be a good sport and to share a little of my cave-dwelling, clueless life with you all, I’ll answer the questions. Ready? Here we go:

10ThingsAboutMe

10 Things About Me

  1. How did you choose your blog’s name?

When I was young, other kids (and people in my family) used to tease me and call me weird, because I spoke funny (aka: English with proper grammar), read a lot of books, had a huge imagination, and was much younger than the other kids in my grade. So I laughed it off, and explained to everyone that the reason I was weird is that I was a changeling child from Jupiter. That probably didn’t help me to fit in, either.

  1. Do you have any other blogs? What are they?

Yes, two other active blogs. But I prefer to keep them segregated.

  1. What’s your day job?

I am a full-time IT student and a part-time IT assistant. It’s a nice little job, and I get a cubicle and dual monitors and everything. I love working in the IT industry and am learning lots of great stuff about the OSI model and Active Directory and network architecture and other things that most of my readers could probably care less about.

  1. What has been your favorite place to live and why?

It’s a toss-up between the San Francisco Bay Area, where I grew up, and a tiny town in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where I spent my first year of college. The first, because those are my stomping grounds, and the Bay Area is just so cool, you know? (Hella cool, even). The tiny mountain town, because I used to wake up every morning to this amazing, gorgeous view of deer running across a meadow, and mountain peaks in the distance. And the smell of pine trees, and the slow, quiet pace…I loved all of that. But I missed things like Target, and movie theaters, and open-minded tolerant people.

  1. What is the last thing you baked?

Oatmeal raisin walnut cookies.

  1. Be physically perfect but feel constantly sick or be obese but feel amazing?

Hard to answer. Because when I used to be really overweight, I was healthy, but I did not feel amazing. I felt far from amazing. My knees hurt, and I felt heavy and slow and not pretty. When I lost 60 pounds, I felt amazing. I’m still healthy, but I love how my body feels now. So it is hard to imagine the reverse being true.

  1. What is one thing about dating that you know now, but wish you had known 5 years ago?

*Blushes* Umm…I still know pretty much nothing about dating. I have gone out on very few dates since becoming single again, and even those were mostly platonic, so truly, I’m kind of clueless. I did not date anyone before meeting my now ex-husband when I was 19 years old. (Well, unless you count the three sweet Christian boyfriends I held hands and giggled with during high school, but we never saw each other outside of school, never went on any actual dates, and I only lightly kissed one. Do you count that as dating?)

Five years ago, I was not thinking about dating, as I was still married. I didn’t enjoy being married at all, but in a way if felt safer than the dating scene. It was like a prison, but at least it was a low-risk, predictable prison (except during the last two nightmarish years). Now, I am single and wonderfully free for the first time in my entire adult life. But now I’m walking tentatively down a strange road, shielding my eyes and ears from the freak show that is the singles dating scene. I’ve tasted enough of it to know that it is just as scary and pointless as I once feared. No thanks. I don’t need it.

  1. What dating sites or apps have you tried (if any)? How were they?

I signed up for eHarmony and Match.com once out of curiosity. It was pointless, because without paying a bunch of money, you can’t even read any messages from men or see their complete profiles or anything. So it was a mildly entertaining waste of time. I deactivated both profiles without ever pursuing anything. Really, even the idea of using one of those sites in earnest makes me feel much more frightened than curious. Maybe it is like skydiving – some people see it as a thrilling and fun adventure. But to me, it is more like dueling with Death and hoping you’ll win. Super scary, and not at all worth the risk.

  1. What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?

Read fiction, marathon-watch TV shows on Netflix or Hulu, watch movies, play The Sims (or other computer games), bake, lie in a hammock under the trees, do handicrafts, write. Add a glass of wine or a cup of earl grey tea or chai, and ahhh…relaxation.

  1. Would you be interested in writing a guest post for my blog? (No pressure here, just curious)

Thanks, but probably not. You’re welcome to reblog whatever you like, though.

 

No Fishing Allowed (aka: My Anti-Flirting Weapons Cache)

I wish there were a battery-operated aura I could wear whenever I go out in public. I could change the color of the electric glow to communicate to other people if it is okay to approach me.

Green light: Hi! You seem cool. Let’s chat for a while.

Yellow light: Hmm…proceed with caution, but be ready to walk away on my signal.

Red light: STOP! Stay back! Do not approach. I repeat, DO NOT APPROACH!

red light stop

I’m pretty sure that, when it comes to strange men, my red light would be on like, all the time. Nothing sets off my panic alarm like some man I don’t know approaching me for any reason whatsoever. So whenever I go out and about, I try to make sure that I have two handy weapons – a book in which I can bury my nose and a pair of earbuds so that I can pretend not to hear. This does not always work, however. Maybe I need to hire a fake boyfriend to accompany me whenever I need to leave the house. Or maybe just buy one of those electric NO buttons to add to my weapons cache. Then, whenever some guy tries to talk to me, all I have to do is click the button and let it speak for me.

The NO ButtonDude: Hey, what’s your name?

Button: NO!!

Dude: Where are you headed?

Button: NO!!

Dude: Can I get your phone number?

Button: NO!! NO!! NO!!

not dating

Tonight, I am going out dancing at a club with a bunch of other single people – something that I have not done since I was eighteen years old. (Yes, seriously). I adore dancing, but my anxiety level is very high, because:

  1. I don’t know this group of people I’m going dancing with. They are just a group of mostly strangers from a Meetup group. I am worried that I won’t be able to relax and be myself and really get into dancing with a bunch of strangers. Especially if they are going to be drinking, because I am not a social drinker – especially if I have to drive myself home. Which I do.
  1. Because I have no clue what women my age wear out to dance at a nightclub, and it’s not like I have a friend to call and ask for tips. Am I supposed to buy a special kind of purse I can dance with? Shoes? Help!
  1. No Fishing AllowedThat whole problem with men. Because I have no idea if that whole thing where strange men hit on single women in night clubs is just overblown in my imagination thanks to TV shows, or if that is actually how the single adult world works. The very idea makes me feel sick with fear. I don’t want to be flirted with. I just want to dance.

I know — maybe I should bring along my book and ear buds. Just in case. Better yet, maybe I should just stay home, where I can relax, and be myself, and there is no need for NO buttons or red lights.    unavailable 2

Happy 1st Divorceaversary!

celebrate-divorceToday I am celebrating my 1st Divorceaversary. Woohoo! Although I have technically been a single woman for around two years now, today marks the day my seventeen-year marriage officially came to an end.

Shameful, you say? No one should celebrate their divorce, you say? Well, I respectfully disagree.

I married my ex-husband when I was only 21 years old. Fresh out of uni     versity, starry-eyed, and far more in love with the dreamy idea of being the perfect Christian wife than I was with the man I married that day. Really, I was nothing more than a naïve virgin in a very expensive dress who believed, like most young brides do, that my marriage was a special, sacred thing that would last until death did us part.

Then this thing called real life showed up.

I will spare you the dramatic details and bad memories. But believe me when I say that choosing to divorce my husband was one of the wisest decisions I have ever made in my entire life. When I walked out of the court room one year ago with the final judgment in my hands, I whooped for joy. I sang aloud. I went home and Snoopy-danced in celebration of this new life, and new sense of freedom. If I had happened to have one of those supportive groups of girlfriends, then surely I would have followed the trends and thrown myself a divorce party.

Happily Divorced Of course, there are some things about a divorce that are not worth celebrating. Some of the changes kind of sucked. Like the child visitation part (not fighting over who gets the most custody, but fighting to get a rather unwilling ex to visit with his kids much at all). And the big financial changes that come with divorce aren’t very fun, either. For many new divorcees, I am sure that there is some sort of mourning period, as well. After all, most couples who have been married for more than a decade are probably close; their lives and routines intertwined to some extent. This was certainly not the case for me, or perhaps the transition to singlehood would have been much more difficult.

But there are other things that are definitely celebration-worthy. Hooray, an end to all the ceaseless fighting! Hooray, no more forced sexual interactions! Hooray, no more having to constantly defend my opinions, thoughts, or choices! Hooray to at last having the freedom to be myself, to grow, and to blossom. Hooray for my kids, who also benefit from a far more stable household! And even a hooray for my ex, who is hopefully realizing that divorce has freed him to pursue the type of woman who will actually make him happy, instead of trying to transform me into someone else. A toast to freedom, and to happiness!

If I weren’t cake intolerant, then maybe I would celebrate this special day by baking one of the crazy divorce cakes I’ve come across on the internet, like these:

I dont cakeDoDidDone Cake

Perhaps I could celebrate by having my old wedding ring redesigned into a lovely pendant, like this:

Diamond heart pendant jewelry

Or, more likely, I will spend the day focusing on the blessings that surround me, like the three great kids who make life awesome every day. And studying, since I have returned to school, and it is now finals week. And maybe, when the kids are not looking, I will turn up the music on my Divorceaversary playlist and Snoopy Dance around my bedroom. Because I am free to do so.