On the subject of dates.

For the past five years or so this is what I thought of when I heard the word date.

cluster of dates with leaves on a white background

Or, more correctly, this.

date-squares-2

But last week something interesting happened. I was asked out on a date… you know, the social interaction kind. I had forgotten they even exist. The even more surprising thing is that I found myself actually considering it. You see, whenever anyone asks me why I’m single, I usually laugh and say, ‘because it’s safer for everyone that way.’ (which is funny because it’s a little bit true).

But here I was, considering making dinner plans with a perfect stranger. As a matter of fact I was seconds away from sending him an email with my available dates (the kind found on the calendar) when I thought, maybe I should Google him first. (I use Google in general terms here, as the search engine I actually used was Yahoo, but I digress.) The second link down the line was very telling. It was a site where people air grievances about dates (or, more correctly the people they had dated). It looked to be run by a small group of young women and it read like a high school slam book written by the mean girls. There he was, with photos and everything, the guy who had asked me out. He was accused of all sorts of unacceptable behavior. Now I usually like to get to know a person before I begin to believe gossip and rumours about them, so I didn’t judge the man on the alleged misdeeds.

I deleted the email I was about to send him because he comes with a lot of young girl drama and I am too old to be dragged into that quagmire, thank you very much. I was likely saved from having to wade through a lot of crap because of these girls, so I suppose I am thankful that they chose to air their personal laundry in public. I also suppose that they are achieving their goal in some small way in that I chose not to pursue even a first date (the social interaction) with this guy because of something they had published.

Some small part of me is relieved that it didn’t go any further, but I have a feeling that I may be ready to unleash the havoc that is me onto the dating world (even those who eat dates while on a date on any date the calendar deems appropriate) sooner than later. I may have to question the sanity of this… just when everything in my life is settling down and going well, I’m ready to muck it up with the whole dating conundrum?! It might not be smart, but like Amy Farrah Fowler before me, I must follow my endocrine system… but this time my brain comes along for the ride.

endocrine

A date I will never forget

berlin-wall-comes-down

One of the trending topics on Twitter today was ‘mention a date you will never forget’. It’s incredibly rare that a trending topic is of personal inspiration to me, so I thought I would share my answer in blog form, here. The only date that came to mind was November 09, 1989. That was the day the Berlin Wall came down.

I am of German descent, on my mother’s side. I have family in Germany. For the majority of my life, when asked where my ancestors came from, my answer was West Germany. Even though I was raised in Canada, thousands of miles away from the Fatherland, I had spent some time in Germany and always felt a deep connection to my German roots. I never thought I would live to see the day that the wall would come down.

So, that day in 1989, I found myself sitting in front of the television, in stunned silence with tears of unbridled joy streaming down my face as I watched images of the German people tear down the wall that had divided their country for decades. I sat there riveted, as families who hadn’t seen one another for a lifetime were reconnected in rapturous embraces.

The Berlin Wall falling planted the seed for a united Europe. Just as a united Europe might one day be seen as the impetus for a united world. A united Germany is proof that we can work together to improve our common future, even if we fundamentally disagree.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will leave you with images of that fateful day set to the powerful music and lyrics of the Scorpions singing Winds of Change… a song that instantly transports me back to that day in November, 1989 and never fails to make me cry.

I invite you to share a date you will never forget.

I quit

It was exactly one year ago today that I had my last cigarette. That makes it official, I am a quitter. I never thought I would be. I smoked one pack a day for 33 years. I started smoking for the very same reason most kids start, it was cool and I was not, but wanted to be. I was a 13 year old nerd when I first started smoking and it never got me any cool points in Junior High, or High School, but by that time, I was already a smoker.

Over the years I had many people preach to me about the dangers of smoking and I had my little pat lines to deflect the conversation. I used to say things like, “Sure smoking takes years off your life, but it’s the years at the end… and who wants those anyway?” , “I might die early, but I will die happy with a big yellow grin on my face”, “My parents never raised any quitters” or the clever “Piss off and mind your own damned business”.

I was a defiant smoker. It was part of my identity. So how did I quit?

There were two major factors that lead to my decision to quit. The first, it got to the point where I just couldn’t afford it anymore. A carton of cigarettes where I live goes for just over $80, which works out to $360 per month. The second and most important factor was, I was ready. It got to the point where I didn’t like the taste anymore. The smell of cigarettes in my drapes and my clothes became nauseating. It just stopped being satisfying, so I quit on September 6th 2011 and never looked back.

Since quitting I have noticed all of the things that every quitter raves on and on about. Food tastes better, my sense of smell is heightened (which is both good and bad), no more yellow stains on my fingers or my teeth and all of that is great. Unfortunately, the fear that kept me smoking for 33 years came true… the dreaded weight gain. Yes, food tastes better, but that’s not necessarily a good thing if you want to keep your weight in check. I never had much of a sweet tooth before quitting, but after quitting, I couldn’t get enough ice cream and cake.

I figured I would indulge those cravings to “get over the hump” and then deal with losing the weight when I felt like I had successfully quit smoking. About 6 months in, I realized that I had gone from a size 6 to a size 10 (that’s an American size 4 to an American size 8). I had never worn a double digit size in my entire life. I’m 5’7″ and am small boned, so every pound shows. I refuse to buy a scale, so I am not sure exactly how many pounds I gained, but a two size gain is not acceptable. I have never seen rolls on my back before, but they are there now. My upper arms are starting to look like they are full of tapioca pudding. It’s not a pretty picture. At the 8 month mark, I went on the Atkins diet, a diet that has worked well for me in the past and I am walking a lot more. While it is helping, I am not shedding the weight as quickly and easily as I had before. Leave it to me to quit smoking during menopause, a time that goes hand in hand with weight gain.

I guess the point of all of this is a warning to all of you female smokers out there. If you think you may want to quit in the future, but are scared to quit because of the potential weight gain, don’t wait until mother nature slows your metabolism during menopause. because it’s just that much harder. And hot flashes when you are heavier are no joke.

Dream a little dream

The Dream by Salvador Dali

Ever since I entered menopause, I have been having the weirdest dreams. Vivid, colourful and disturbing dreams. Apparently this is a normal symptom of menopause along with insomnia, hot flashes, memory loss, loss of sex drive, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, memory loss, mood swings, depression, irritability, fatigue, hair loss, growing of facial hair, incontinence, bloating, memory loss, brittle nails, breast pain, joint pain, headaches, itchy skin, tingling extremities and memory loss among others. Oh yes, menopause is a wondrous time of life. I am going through this next phase of life naturally, as generations of women before me have. Going with the lack of flow, as it were. I’m one of the lucky ones, my most disturbing symptoms are the weird dreams, insomnia (which has finally passed after two years), the occasional hot flash (which also seems to have passed) and memory loss. The memory loss is the most frustrating if only because I have always prided myself on my great memory and tremendous vocabulary, and now I continually find myself grasping for words that would once come trippingly off my tongue. It is for this reason that I have been calling this stage of my life MENTAL PAUSE.

Getting back to the weird dreams. Last night I had a doozy. I dreamed that I had fallen asleep and woke up to find that my face had been tattooed. Not just a small, cute tattoo either. A large rectangular tattoo the size of a tarot card starting at my left cheekbone and ending just below my jawline. The image was of skin being pulled off my face, to reveal a beating red heart (the organ, not the Valentine’s Day shape). Yes the heart was animated and beating. I was in a warehouse and I wandered around looking for someone, anyone who could explain what had happened. There was no one around, but there were mirrors everywhere I looked, so I couldn’t help but look at this thing on my face. It was then that I woke up and tried to shake the image from my mind to no avail.

If anyone knows anything about dream analysis, I would be very interested on your input. If you are also a menopausal woman who has weird dreams and want to share one of yours, please feel free to do so. For now I’m chalking it up to hormones and will try to go on about my day as usual.

Rebel

James Dean- Iconic Rebel

I’m a rebel *(and I’ll never, ever be any good). Which basically means I don’t do what I’m told and my opinions usually differ from those of society at large. Politically, I lean more left than right, but my feet are not firmly planted on either side. I prefer to make up my own rules than go by the ones the government, (either a conservative or a liberal government) has laid out for everyone. Spiritually, it’s the same thing. I do not need some made up man in the sky threatening eternal damnation in order to be a decent, if a little odd, human being.

Even my taste in celebrities isn’t what the media touts as desirable. I’ve never gone for the traditionally handsome leading man and the seduction fantasy.

George Clooney- leading man

Or the non- threatening, baby faced teen idol types and the adoration fantasy.

Justin Beiber- teen idol

Instead, I go for men who can be the on screen personification of evil with a sly smirk that belies a filthy secret.

James Gandolfini and his naughty smirk

Not your typical brooding bad boy, more like evil with a touch of dangerous insanity thrown in.

Malcolm McDowell from A Clockwork Orange

Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear

Michael Clark Duncan in Red Scorpion

Don’t get me wrong, these are not the type of male characters I would enjoy spending time with in a real life scenario of any kind. They are simply some of my on screen fantasy men. I think the fantasy for me is the challenge that getting such a dangerous man to fall for me would present. It would be akin to breaking a wild stallion. Although, once broken, the attraction would be gone.

Yes, I am a rebel, even in my dreams.

*Refers to lyrics found in the song He’s a Rebel by the Crystals

Confession: I love being alone

I am single. It’s not sad. It’s not anything to be pitied. I love being single. More than that, I love being alone. I don’t understand why it is that people think this is such a horrible fate. When I am asked if I’m married and the person hears the answer is no, the response is invariably something along the lines of, “Well, don’t worry, you’ll find someone.” I have news for you. I’m not worried, and even more radically, I don’t want to find someone.

No I am not depressed. No I am not lonely. No I am not bitter. No I don’t sit around all day crying. I am living MY life the way I PREFER to live it… by myself.

I like only taking care of myself. I like a life without arguments or compromises. I like doing what I want to do when I want to do it. I like travelling alone. I like going to the movies alone. I even like eating at a restaurant alone.

I have tried marriage. It doesn’t work for me. Before you ask, ‘What about love?’  That’s what my family is for. I hear you thinking, ‘What do you do about sex?’ Not that it’s any of your business, but I prefer doing that alone too. (at least I know the job will be done well). As for companionship, I have relatively no need for company… other people just mess things up. Conversation is wonderful when it’s intelligent and productive, which, sadly, is rare and preferably done over the phone or online.

For me being alone does not equate to being lonely. Being alone equates to being free.