Butterflies: This is How it Starts…

I have a date in two hours. So, I look considerably nicer than I usually look at work, and I’m starting to get a little bit nervous.

It’s an internet date. That means there’s a 98.9% chance that there’s absolutely nothing to be nervous about—since that is the likelihood that it will turn out to be lame.  If you haven’t experienced the joys of internet dating, you probably think that sounds very cynical. If you have done any online dating yourself, you’re thinking, only 98.9%?  Get real, Pollyanna.

Here’s how it works. You sign up for a dating web site, attempt to encapsulate your dazzling personality into a one-or-two-paragraph description of yourself, and post a couple photos. (Taking the photos is a whole ‘nother blog post. Actually it’s a whole ‘nother blog. If I was a mean person, I would start a blog that just shows horrible dating web site photos with snarky captions. It would be hilarious, but it would also be really mean. Some of us online daters are woefully vulnerable.)

You also have to classify yourself into a number of searchable categories. My favorite field is always the “body type” field. You have to check a box to categorize yourself as “Athletic and Toned” or “Curvy” or “Skinny” or “Full-figured”.   I need a 150-character text field, not a check box. My category is, “I’m-overweight-but-I-still-have-a-waist-and-some-people-still-think-I’m-hot, goddammit!” There’s never a check box for that.

Anyway, you set up this profile, which is a demoralizing undertaking in itself, and then you start searching through profiles to find someone who suits you. More accurately, someone whose representation of himself suits to you.

If by some magic you find an appealing profile, and the owner of said profile also finds yours appealing, then you start trading emails. If no apparent psychoses* manifest, you trade phone numbers and begin texting or talking on the phone. Another crazy-check ensues, and if both parties pass that test, you find yourself in the place I am in right now.

*I originally used the word neuroses, but I looked it up first and discovered that by definition, I may actually be neurotic. If you’re delusional or hallucinating or REALLY wacked out, that’s psychotic. So that’s where I (and other neurotics, apparently) draw the line.

For me, no matter how many lousy internet dates I’ve been on—and that’s a lot—there are butterflies at this phase. I have a little argument with myself every time, a heated debate between my internal romantic and my jaded alter ego.

ROMANTIC: I’m so excited!  I think I’ll wear my new blouse and these cute, girly heels.

JADED: Aren’t you trying awfully hard?

ROMANTIC: It’s a date! You wear pretty shoes on a date.

JADED: It’s an internet date. You’re going to know within five minutes that you want to leave, but you’ll be too polite to do it, so you’ll sit there awkwardly until courtesy permits you to excuse yourself. At least you could be comfortable.

ROMANTIC: You don’t know that! This one sounds funny and smart!

JADED: So did the last one. Remember those tight sweatpants he wore?

ROMANTIC: You have a point. But I’m still wearing the shoes. And the sparkly earrings, too.

(For the record, this is just normal talking-to-myself behavior. It’s not an actual hallucination. That would be psychotic.)

Both imaginary parties in the above conversation are correct.

Yes, the last guy seemed funny and smart—in fact he was funny and smart, and very nice—but he just wasn’t for me. At all.  That happens frequently; they seem great but the connection just isn’t there. Or if I’m interested, they’re not.  (I can’t imagine why, but it happens.) Internet dating is a numbers game. I once heard that dating is the process of ruling out the bad ones. Chances are, today I’m going to rule out someone else.

But what if I’m not? What if he really is wonderful? What if all that smart and funny I’m getting over the interwebs shows up in the form of an attractive, available guy? That happens, too. Less often, and not to me, yet—but it has happened for other women. I have met actual, real live men who were actually found via the internet who turned out to be actual nice boyfriends.

It reminds me of the DMV. (Just work with me. There’s a correlation here.) When I go to the DMV, I see all the government employees sitting behind the counter. They deal with a bazillion people every day. They probably meet a lot of dummies, and whiners, and excuse-makers, and people who don’t read the directions—all manner of irritating folk. By the time they get to me–a charming, pleasant, well-intentioned direction-follower—most of them treat me like I’m another idiot. They don’t bother to notice that I’m exceptional. They’re rude out of habit. They’ve been conditioned.

I don’t want to be like a DMV worker. Yes, I have dated all manner of irritating menfolk. But this guy that I’m meeting today just might be exceptional.  I can’t become conditioned to think, oh great, here comes another dud. I can’t just wear my frumpy mom-shoes because whatever, he’ll probably wear sweatpants anyway. Every guy I meet—every person, actually; this works for all human interaction—is separate from and not responsible for the behavior of the one before him. Some conditioning is inevitable (that’s why you meet in public places!) but I still have to open myself up to a good experience and not let the bad experiences dictate my responses.

Even if I’m disappointed two hours from now, I will wear the cute shoes and the sparkly earrings and show up ready for an exception.  I have to feel the butterflies and do it anyway.

I’ll keep you posted.

Notes on The Avengers: Lots of Superhotness

It’s been a while since I posted. You may have noticed that despite the title of my blog, I don’t have many adventures. And by adventures, I mean dates. Or any other interesting occurrences, really…nothing much goes on in my life. I could change the title of this blog to The Midlife Musings of Meg, which would be nice and alliterative, but I’m still hoping for some adventures (dates) to kick in sometime soon, so I’ll leave it for now.

Anyway, it’s been a dry couple of weeks. In the meantime, I did go see The Avengers today. I watched something adventurous; that will have to do.

Since the movie has been out for weeks and anyone reading this probably already saw it, I will not attempt to review it. I did make some observations, which I will share now for your reading pleasure.

  1. I like superhero movies. Anything can happen in a superhero movie, without any concern for realism, and I like that. I get enough reality every day. I want unreality, served up with snappy one-liners, please.
  2. One true-to-life aspect of The Avengers is this: the smart, funny guys are the hottest, even if they are not the biggest or buffest. Yes, Thor’s spectacular biceps inspire some lusty sighs. But for me, the sexiest scenes are Bruce Banner and Tony Stark talking tech in the laboratory. Hubba hubba. If I am ever about to be slaughtered by horrific animatronic alien death machines, I hope I am rescued by a dreamy brainiac with great comedic timing. That would be way cooler, in my opinion, than being rescued by a plain-ol’ beefcake superhero.
  3. Who is hotter, Robert Downey Jr. or Scarlett Johansson? It is a tie. I am a heterosexual woman. Still a tie.
  4. Regardless of how dramatic the action is, or how fantastic the effects are, or how dire the stakes—really long, uninterrupted action sequences bore the shiznizzle out of me. Another explosion! Oh, here come more alien soldiers! And more alien soldiers! What, the portal in the sky is still open? Whatever…are there more Junior Mints? Because I just lost interest.
  5. Black Widow= totally badass. I love that she has knock-down drag-outs with demigods and fights alongside superheroes, but she herself doesn’t really have any superpowers, except some bio-enhancements to slow down aging and reinforce her immune system. Black Widow is just a highly-trained, well-equipped woman. Imagine that.
  6. Speaking of women, we really need to start a movement to banish high-heels. Yes, they’re sexy. But the whole time Loki’s forces were attacking New York City, I kept thinking of all those women trying to flee in high heels. It just isn’t fair. We do everything with our feet contorted and our balance thrown out of whack. Normally we take it in stride—maybe that’s every woman’s superpower—but if the sky is falling and we have to dodge bullets and climb through rubble, we need to be prepared. That means sensible footwear.

So there you have it: one white, middle-aged, suburban mom’s response to the cinematic phenomenon that is The Avengers.  Also, I want an outfit like Scarlett Johansen’s; maybe then I could get some “adventures.” But I should probably lay off the Junior Mints.

Kirby-free: How I lost 500 pounds in one day!

I sold my Kirby Sentria this weekend. It cost me $1,200 in 2005, and I sold it for $100.That’s right, $100. And woe to the sucker who paid $100 for it.

Remember that episode of The Brady Bunch where they find the ancient tiki and it brings them bad luck? The Kirby is my ancient tiki. Tarantulas never crawled on my bed because of it, but they might as well have.

What is a Kirby, you ask? Well, it’s a WHOLE HOUSE CLEANING SYSTEM.

Oh, you thought it was a vacuum? It is, but it is SO MUCH MORE.

The Kirby comes with a myriad of attachments that do everything from blow up balloons to massage your scalp. I am not making that up. The woman who sold me the Whole House Cleaning System actually showed me them. And because she also sold her soul to the devil in exchange for supernatural powers of persuasion, I bought them. For $1,200.

How many balloon inflations and scalp massages have I performed with my Kirby since 2005? Why, zero, of course.

Two things you should know about a Kirby:

1)     It weighs about 500 pounds. The soulless Kirby salesperson will make this sound like a selling point, because Kirbys are made of solid metal, “like real tools. Plastic is for toys.” As a matter of fact, plastic is also for 21st century vacuum cleaners and for people who don’t like to lift 500-pound machines.

2)     While a Kirby does offer many exciting and useless attachments like balloon inflaters, if you want to actually inflate a balloon, or even use a tool for something legitimate like sucking a spider off your ceiling, you must DISMANTLE your Kirby and reconfigure it. This will not be a problem if you majored in mechanical engineering. I did not, which means that by the time I reconfigured the Kirby and got the extension hose in place, the spider would have disappeared, most likely to resurface directly above my bed as I tried to fall asleep.

The Kirby does come with a hefty instruction manual and a helpful DVD. I have watched the DVD three times, making it my third most-watched movie after Enchanted April and The Princess Bride.   I know all the lines by heart. I still cannot properly configure the carpet-shampooing attachment.

Some of you may be wondering what the heck kind of vacuum requires an instructional DVD.  I wondered that too, once the Jedi mind trick cleared and I realized that I had paid $1,200 for a vacuum. I mean Whole House Cleaning System.

I began to fantasize about creative, Kirby-themed retributions to spring on that sleazy saleswoman, should she ever pop in to see how the Kirby and I were getting along. She never did, because she was off enjoying the cruise she earned by putting the whammy on me. (Had I known that was her goal, I would have just paid for the cruise and still spent less than I did on the Kirby.) No, I had to settle for imagining her strangled in the generous 32-foot power cord, or bludgeoned with the handy extender wand. And then there’s the crevice tool… exactly.

If I sound a little bitter, I am. I have lived with that godforsaken behemoth of a vacuum for seven years. I kept it around as self-punishment, to remind myself not to be so stupid. Every time I vacuumed, which wasn’t very often because the Kirby is a bitch to maneuver, I mentally berated myself for being a sucker. “Dumbass!” I’d mutter to myself while cleaning house. “Why did you open the door for that Kirby woman? Who makes payments on a vacuum? Stupid!”

Oh yes, I made payments on a vacuum. I, a woman of very humble means, financed the Kirby. Each payment was a reminder of my exceptional decision-making skills.  It occurred to me as I wrote those checks that I could have paid for a year of maid service for $1,200, and the maid would have brought her own damn vacuum.

Is this getting depressing? Sorry. I am getting to the happy part. But not yet.

You could say my life has been in a downward spiral since I got the Kirby. I was laid off three times in three years, lost just about everything I own and had to sell our family home. I packed up my daughter, my dogs and my cursed vacuum and moved to a dumpy apartment in Santa Ana.

Boy, has it sucked.  No, I am not going to make the vacuum/ suck joke. I just mean my life has pretty much sucked these last few years.

But today, I finally put it all together: the Brady Bunch episode, the Whole House Cleaning System, the curse… and I realized, HEY!  I am just like Peter Brady! If I unload the cursed tiki, everything will turn around!

We are going to change pop-culture metaphors now. Remember Dumbo and the magic feather? He believed he could fly because he had the magic feather. Of course it wasn’t the feather–Dumbo was a sucker, too–it was his belief that gave him the power to fly.

Well, the Kirby is the opposite of a magic feather. It is a magic brick. Magic cement shoes, if you will. I’m pretty sure that as long as it’s been parked under my stairs, it’s been weighing me down. That’s why I’ve been having all this lousy luck.

Ladies and gentlemen, my luck is about to change. The Kirby is gone. To be on the safe side, I probably should have journeyed to Mordor and cast the Whole House Cleaning System into a volcanic lake of fire, but who has time for that? I just sold it on Craigslist to some unsuspecting vacuum re-seller from Sylmar.

Bottom line: I have thrown off the chains of my overpriced vacuum. No longer will I call myself a gullible, poor-decision-making dumbass, but a strong, victorious, Kirby-free woman!

This is the voice of my empowerment:

Am I capable of getting my finances under control and saving money? Heck yes! I sold the Kirby, didn’t I?

Will I finally get in shape and lose these extra fifty pounds? Why not? I just lost 500 pounds of vacuum!

Will I meet the man of my dreams at last? Of course! I am so much more attractive without that dated vacuum and all its baggage!

See how it works?  Anything is possible if I just believe.

Today is the first day of the rest of my Kirby-free life. Soon I will have a sleek, new, lightweight vacuum with tools on board, a lot more storage space under my stairs and a powerful mental placebo to change my reality.

That might even be worth $1,200.

The Blogger’s Guide To Breakups

Recall the Marvelous Moods of Meg? Sometimes they are chemical. Sometimes they are triggered by breaking up with a nice guy who loves you but does not inspire in you the passion you would really, really like to experience again in your lifetime (although it seems increasingly less likely as you approach your 40th birthday).

Say you wake up with a terrific backache on the day you intend to execute this break-up and your beau, fresh from the chiropractor himself, lovingly applies the tens unit he just purchased to your lower back, because that’s just what kind of guy he is.

Say you still do the deed, because you’re feeling increasingly guilty about playing along with the girlfriend routine when you can’t possibly imagine a future with this guy.

Say he takes it like a gentleman, but reminds you before he leaves that although you may find someone you love more than him, you could never find anyone who loves you back as much as he does.

Say you believe him, but you take the gamble anyway.

Most likely, you are left with a backache and one hell of a bleak mood. Here is what I recommend.

  1. Cry for a while.
  2. Take a lot of Advil.
  3. Numbly browse the For Sale ads on Craigslist.
  4. Try to imagine what you would have done with this day had it not been hijacked by your stupid love life.
  5. Oh yeah, painting.
  6. Return to Craigslist and find cheap canvasses, an easel and a long-handled brush set, just the kind you’ve been wanting, posted by a seller who lives a mere 10 minutes from your apartment. (This step could be tricky, but you’re due for some decent Karma by now, aren’t you?)
  7. Meet the artist-girl seller in the Santa Ana Artist Village for the deal. Wait for her in the warm afternoon and be inspired by the ornate façade of the Santora Building. Reflect on the fact that this same face has overlooked this sunny plaza since 1926.
  8. Be inspired by the artist-girl herself, with her Amelie haircut and bright-orange vintage bicycle. Ponder the possibility that your life might actually be some kind of movie and not real, kind of like The Truman Show.
  9. Be inspired by the fact that your art needs have all been met within a half hour for less than $60 via Craigslist. (Now you can forgive Craigslist for introducing you to your [ex] boyfriend.)
  10. Stop on the way home for tequila. Painting alone might not be quite enough to handle this mood.
  11. Mix a margarita and set up the easel on your tiny, neglected patio.
  12. Choose yellow, red and white paint: guaranteed to make a happy outcome.
  13. Don’t think. Just paint.
  14. Be inspired by the orange and pink swirls.
  15. Be soothed by the dog sleeping in the sunshine.
  16. Mix another margarita.
  17. Blog.

The Care & Feeding of Pets and People

Two things you should know about me:

1. I’m kind of a crazy dog lady. I am the proud but somewhat beleaguered owner of two pit bulls, Rizzo and Rita, for whom I make questionable financial decisions and all manner of accommodations to my lifestyle. They’re my girls.  (Or, when I’m feeling gansta, they my bitches.)  Here are some photos so you can see the adorableness of the dogs.This is the Rizzy P'zizzy

2.  I’m roughly 50 pounds overweight.  That’s better than I was last year, when I was 75 pounds overweight. I’m working on it. You’re not getting a photo of that. It’s not adorable.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how I care for my darlings versus how I care for myself.

As big, powerful, high-energy animals, pit bulls need a lot of exercise. You can’t expect them to behave if they’re all pent up and miserable.  When I adopted my dogs, I had a big house and a big yard for them to run around in, and we took lots of walks and went on adventures.

Since then, I’ve had to sell my house. (Thank you, stupid economy.) So now I have two big, powerful, high-energy dogs in a two-bedroom apartment with a bitty yard. Walks and adventures have become mandatory. No skipping walks. It’s cruel to keep big animals cooped up.  Since I love them and I am a responsible dog owner, I walk the bejeebers outa those girls.

Here is a huge benefit of owning a dog:  you must exercise, and you will not be excused from it for any reason.

My dogs LIVE for their walks.  They are hyper-sensitive to any indication that a walk is imminent. If I so much as touch a plastic bag, their ears perk up. If I pass near the hook where their leashes hang, their tails wag. I can’t even rummage in my sock drawer without triggering a surge of canine excitement, because socks mean shoes and shoes mean leaving the house and that means WE MIGHT GO FOR A WALK!

Usually I walk the dogs just before or after dinner. So if I’m lingering over dinner, the dogs are getting antsy.  Riz starts whining and giving me THE LOOK. The Look is beyond hopeful. It is urgent, pleading, how-can-I-go-on-living-if-you-don’t-walk-me-RIGHT-NOW desperate.  If you have a dog, you know The Look.

You can’t tell them, sorry; I’ve just done six loads of laundry and I’m too tired to walk you. They don’t care if you have cramps or you’re not in the mood. They NEED to walk.  And since they need it, I do it.

Please refer back seven paragraphs to the point of this post, because there is one.  What I’m saying is, I exercise because my dogs need it. Never mind that I am an overweight woman with depressive tendencies, and exercise is critical for my well-being.  As a matter of fact, like all humans, I am also a big, powerful animal.  Humans also need exercise to keep from being pent up and miserable.  Especially me.  So why does it take 110 pounds of begging, whining pit bull to keep me motivated? I don’t know, but I’m grateful for them.  For a long time, dog walking was the only exercise I got. I’d be the size of a hippo by now if it weren’t for their zero-tolerance no-laziness policy.

Then there’s the matter of diet. (O, Diet, how you plague my soul!) Will I ever really get a grip on my diet?

My dogs get exactly three cups of kibble each, every day, at regular intervals.  They get treats, but not too many. They get table scraps in small amounts, and I do indulge Riz’s weakness for “pizza bones.” (Pizza bones are crusts, and Riz has a weakness for them because I have a weakness for pizza.) But I am very aware that if I give them too many fatty scraps, it will mess with their systems, so I don’t overdo it.  I buy them quality food and I read the label to make sure they’re getting what they need.  If I know that a food is dangerous to dogs, they will never get it. Period.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Would I let my dogs eat nothing but fast food all weekend just because my daughter isn’t home and I don’t need to cook? No. Because that would be terrible for them, and I wouldn’t do that to my dogs.

Would I buy them super cheap dog food, full of corn meal and by-products, because it is yummy and they’d happily hork it down with delight? No. Because health is more important than the fleeting pleasure of horking down Zingers.  Wait, not Zingers…I meant cheap dog food. Zingers are what I hork down for fleeting pleasure.  And I sure as heck wouldn’t share them with the dogs.

Dogs will eat all kinds of horrible things with gusto, but I guard them from that, because I love them and want them to be healthy.

If only I could guard my own diet with the same vigilance.  If only I could balance my self-indulgence with concern for my well-being. If only I valued my own health as highly as my dogs’…because that’s what it means, doesn’t it?

Why don’t I? I’m pretty lovable, too.  I will try to remind myself of that the next time I run into a Zinger.






Smart Girl Syndrome

I’m a smart girl. It’s the one thing I can hang my hat on. I am occasionally a pretty girl—but every girl has pretty days and ugly days. I’m usually a funny girl; at least in my head I’m funny. And I have a lot of phases that come and go—fat girl, artsy girl, religious girl, bitchy girl. But as long as I can remember, I’ve been a smart girl. Everybody says so: “That Meg, she’s a smart girl.”

Sometimes I am even called a smart “cookie.” I know that’s vaguely insulting from a feminist perspective, but it doesn’t bother me. Who doesn’t like cookies? And tacking that cutesy diminutive onto the word “smart” takes the pressure off.

Oh, you can bet your patootie there’s pressure. There are smart decisions to make, smart books to read… and there are things smart girls never do. They never sleep with men they’re not interested in because they’re lonely, or spontaneously adopt a Siberian husky because it’s cute, or buy ridiculously expensive vacuum cleaners from the door-to-door Kirby salesman. (Damn that Kirby salesman!) No, smart girls never do any of those things that I just spontaneously invented for the sake of illustration. Smart girls don’t lie much, either.

My boyfriend doesn’t like it when I say that I’m smart. He says it’s “not very becoming.” (I know, I know. That’s another post.) He doesn’t understand that for me, being smart is not something to boast about. I don’t believe being smart makes you superior. Smart is just another kind of different. It has advantages and disadvantages.

Smart is just the way my brain works. In most cases, I can quickly absorb and process information. I can synthesize and apply what I’ve learned in the past to new situations. I can recall a lot of big words at just the right moment.

Smart is not the same as wise. Yes, I can wrap my brain around the facts quickly, but that doesn’t mean I know what to do with them. Smart is not clever, either– I might know what’s going on, but I sure don’t know what to say about it.

I raised a couple of really smart kids, and I often told them that it doesn’t matter how smart you are if no one can tell. We live in a performance-based world. No one cares if you have a bunch of brilliant thoughts in your head—you have to DO something with them. It’s the Forrest Gump corollary: smart is as smart does.

If only I followed the advice I gave my kids, huh?

Notice I don’t claim to be a smart woman, despite the onset of my menses nearly thirty years ago. I’m still hiding behind the word “girl.” Seems like if I were a smart woman, there would be some achievement involved, some greater personal discipline that would allow me to capitalize on this brain of mine. Smart women are powerful, and they get things done. No, that’s even more pressure. Who needs that?

“Smart girl” implies potential, and I have loads of that. Any minute now, I could do something awesome. I’m just doing a careful analysis to determine the smartest way to go about it.