Back out there, first date

The first official try at dating was a bit of a disaster.  Fearful of dating sites, I thought I would start out with someone I’ve known a very long time.  A man who had kids the same ages as mine.  I had worked with his wife years ago, and they’d actually socialized at my house, but had divorced about 10 years ago.  I knew him … so no worries about his sanity.   Call him Fred.

So Fred had asked me out several times in the past year or so, and I’d always declined.  The invitations were to stop by his place for a drink, or hey, the kids will be home on the weekend, why don’t you come over and see them.  I never felt inclined to do so, simply because he wasn’t my type.  So, one night I’m out for dinner with a friend, and my friend says to me, “The next time someone asks – go.  Don’t over analyze, don’t think twice, just go with the flow.” Ironically, after we finished dinner and as I am heading home, I duck into the grocery store, and there he is – Fred.  And, as always he says – come over for a drink.  Just a quick one, before you head home.  I say yes.

Looking back I realize that my concern had always been that by going to his house I would lose all my power.  Just like when you get into a car as a passenger, you cede control to the driver.  I am, most assuredly, a control freak.  So, it was outside of my comfort zone, especially on a sort of informal first date, to spend it in a man’s home, and yet I made it through.

As I left his house a couple of hours later, Fred asked me if we could get together again, and I said sure.  It had been a pleasant evening, we had lots in common, why not?  By the time I got home I was plagued by guilt, filled with doubt and all the emotions associated with infidelity (at least I think that’s what it was).  Was it right, what would the kids think, what was I doing, what would Kevin think, what would my friends think, was I even ready?  The emotional churn was exhausting.  But at the end of it remained the ultimate and most important question: did I, do I, want to be alone for the rest of my life?  I knew and I know that I don’t.

So I resolved to give this a dating thing with Fred a try.  A day or so later he asked me out for the second time to a party set a couple of weeks away.  I accepted, totally unaware he was taking me to a family pre-Christmas party.  Who does that on a second date?

Living Alone

So, I now live on my own.  Entirely.  Well, me and the cat.  Its a different existence for sure.  I have found that I need to be somewhat disciplined to make it work.  Seems contrary to what one would expect.  Really, the notion of living alone could suggest utter independence, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom.  It can be all those things for sure, but it can also be lonely, isolated, and frustrating.  Frustrating in that I am it, just me.  There is no sharing of chores, no in-house second opinion or sounding board, no voice of reason. Isolated in that once I am inside my little house, it’s on me to reach out and engage my friends if I am feeling low.  Lonely obviously because the cat, charming as he may be, is not the most stimulating of company.

As a result I have learned some coping mechanisms that work for me.  I have learned to be more structured in my activities.  It’s easy to zone out in front of the television, but it’s not healthy.  So I ensure I work out before the tv goes on.  My go-to for dinner for the first year or so after Kev died was a cup of tea and about 8 Ritz crackers (god I love those things), but that’s not very healthy.  So now it’s a planned meal, always a little prep involved because that uses up some time too.

I tend to plan my weekends well in advance.  Have someone over, or go out some place.  There are a lot of people just like me, on their own, not in a relationship, and just looking for stuff to do.  It takes a bit to get used to arriving places solo, or going someplace on your own, and I am not quite to the point where I will go to a movie on my own, but I’m getting there.  Oh and then there’s on line dating…. lol that’s a story for another time.  I never would have ever expected to be where I am, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, isn’t it?

Equal Opportunity

I innocently overheard a conversation at my workplace last week. It was between two of my coworkers; they sit fairly close by. There is no ego shortage in my particular area of work. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and we all have strong opinions. But I hope that we all have the capacity to accept others’ input, thoughts and ideas. What I overhead suggested that maybe we don’t. We talk at length about stereotyping, systemic barriers and racism, and we all try to watch out for it in our language. But there are those times when a simple statement should be examined, when we need to sit back and say, wow, did I just say that? That’s not right.

It’s those dismissive statements we make, assumptions about a person based on how they present themselves. When a person is sized up and judged on appearances. When someone is dismissed as offering less in the workplace because of their educational background or the type of work that they do. When we make judgments without knowledge, statements without facts. You never know what a person has to offer. Appearances can be deceiving. What a person knows can’t be measured. There are all sorts of contributing factors that help build a person’s knowledge base. Universities can and do churn out thousands of MBAs, PhDs and the like, but having the head knowledge and firing up the neurons to make meaningful connections between that information and the real world, the practical application – for some it just doesn’t happen. For others, even without formal education they will make the connections, they can do the job. It takes all kinds.

So what was it that I overheard? It was a comment related to a job competition and how administrative clerks where applying, and how they should know their place. And yes, I weighed in with my thoughts, they got my input. I started off in the admin pool, I could list off at least six other people now in much higher profile positions than me that started off as admins. I also told them about a young man I worked with 15 years ago, he started as an admin – now he is a director in a division with hundreds of employees. Even with formal education in a specific field you sometimes have to take what you can get and then start down the path to where you want to be. Just because someone is presently acting in an administrative position doesn’t mean they don’t have the knowledge, skills and abilities to progress outside of the clerical realm. It’s called equal opportunity.

Feeling Overwhelmed

I am feeling completely overwhelmed right now. This journey is a brutal one on an emotional level as well as a physical level particularly for my husband, but also for me.  I know it’s not about me, but I am a big part of the equation.   Eight hours ago he finished his chemo treatment and it takes it right out of him.  I know this.  He needs to rest and repair and I need to support him in that.  However, it seems that with every day further into this treatment his frustration increases.  There are so many things that he wants to do or that he wants done and there’s really only me.   I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.

We need to get the garage cleaned out before the snow comes, we have to be able to park a car in there.  The leaves are falling off the trees and he wants the yard raked.  The gutters around the house need to be cleaned out otherwise they will be useless when the spring thaw comes.  There is the matter of moving a couch out of our basement and doing a dump run – to do that we have to put the trailer on the car.  Then do the dump run.  We have to get the snowblower over to our daughter’s house. There was a building permit registered on our house years ago for work that we never did do, but we need to get the permit closed off – it likely means an inspection to see if we did change the footprint of the house – I need to schedule that.  Why?  Because now he thinks we probably should sell the house.  It’s a side split and difficult for him to get around in.  Sell the house?  Yikes, that’s a nervous breakdown headed my way.

As always, there are the day to day things that I need to do.  I’m it now, I do the cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry, garbage, dog walking, nursing and caregiving as required.  Yesterday I fixed a toilet – a first for me, but not that hard.  And he continues to identify new things that he wants done.  At this point I say “just add them to the list” and in my mind finish it off with “of things I’m not likely to do.”   I’m feeling overwhelmed.  It’s time to start saying “no” right up front if it is work that I can’t do or don’t want to do, and either jobbing it out or hiring someone.  Makes for some unpleasant conversations but has to be done otherwise I will be completely useless because I’m overwhelmed.

The Birch Tree

I had the birch tree looked at. It was hit by lightning and has sustained serious damage both inside and outside of the trunk accompanied by a lengthy split. The bark was scorched and some of the upper branches look burnt.  It continues to ooze a black sap that likely reflects the fact that it was hit.   I was worried that it would be too much to bounce back from. In response to my call to the Lines Department of our local Hydro company, a gentleman came out to inspect the tree.  It is right beside the power lines for our road, and they routinely trim it back.  If the tree falls down, there will be no electricity for our street.  The fellow who looked at the tree told me that it was already healing. No doubt it was a good strike, but he felt that it would likely recover no problem. This was good news since it home to quite a few birds as well as being quite a lovely tree.

I realize now that I made a quick and uneducated assumption that the tree would never recover.  How could it?  It has been split down the trunk, it’s oozing black sap.  The very things I thought were killing it, likely are helping to heal it.  The split released the energy it was struck by and the black sap is removing the damaged fibre.  Not pretty, but necessary.  I under-estimated the resilience that all live things have.  It struck me that there was a lesson somewhere here for me.

The Scarred Tree

The Scarred Tree