The Importance of Being Alive

I was in the middle of doing a sit up when Dan asked me how I was doing after getting dumped last week. I’d actually been waiting to tell my friend about this romantic development until it felt a little more legit. My friend Dan is a lot of things — hunting advocate, sworn enemy to sugar, an occasional handyman when things are falling apart in my house — but he’s also skeptical of men and their intentions. He’s also often right, which can be maddening.

So, I didn’t really want to hear anything negative about this new dude. I was trying to use my own BS monitor to assess the situation without letting anyone else color my opinion. 

But then the new dude straight up dumped me while my dumb dog was snuggling in his lap, and I reported the situation to Dan the next time I saw him.

“It’s gotta be tough,” he said as I lifted my upper body off the ground to touch my right toe with my right hand in midair. “Now you’re never going to want to date.”

I sat up on my purple yoga mat and wrapped my arms around my knees and told him that in fact, thanks to Adam Driver, I was feeling quite the opposite.

“You’re not really going to understand this because you’re not a Broadway dork,” I told him, “but I watched the movie Marriage Story last night and Adam Driver sings a song from the musical Company at the end and it killed me but also reminded me what life is all about.”

The song, “Being Alive,” comes at the end of both the movie and the Sondheim show when the main characters come to realize that it’s the messiness of life, the complications of being in relationships, that means we’re alive. It’s not just standing on the sidelines and making sure we’re never going to get hurt, but getting in there and playing the game, whether we win or lose.

My therapist, Jennifer, had told me as much when I reported a few weeks earlier that I’d started dating someone. I’d told her there were some red flags, some things he’d said that were troubling. “What if he’s just a douche like all the guys around here?” I asked, pointing out that lots of dudes where I live are successful and have the giant egos to match their bank accounts, which confuses them into thinking they can behave badly. 

But Jen wasn’t having it. She told me that was like saying all women were gold diggers and that I needed to stop standing on the sidelines wringing my hands. She reminded me of a story I told a few years ago onstage about finding the courage to jump off a cliff with my young daughters at a quarry one hot summer day in Vermont. 

How we’d sat on our picnic blankets eating lunch and watched people get to the edge and jump, and it looked so easy. But when we got up there and I looked down at the cold water below, I panicked.

A few months earlier I’d told my husband of 17 years I wanted a divorce and that was a giant leap off a cliff of indecision I’d been standing on for a long time. It was terrifying but also propelled my life in a healthier direction. 

In the end, the girls and I counted to 3 and leapt off the ledge of the quarry and plunged into the icy green water below. The bracing temperature and thrill of flying through the air propelled us back to the surface where we floated on our backs for a bit and caught our breath. It had been scary, but worth it.

“What do you have to lose?” Jen asked. “Jump.”

So I did. And for a few weeks, I felt pretty alive. And it was nice, despite the outcome.

Then Adam Driver started to sing at the end of Marriage Story and I immediately knew the song, because I’d seen the show when it was revived on Broadway in 2006. By then, I understood the complexities of marriage and relationships — topics dealt with in the play with lyrics only Sondheim could write. And I remember sitting in the darkened theater listening to the words of the final song, “Being Alive,” which acknowledge how annoying relationships can be — partners can be needy and hold us too close, hurt us too deep — but also, remind us of being alive. 

“But alone,

Is alone,

Not alive.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I said to myself when Driver started to sing, my eyes starting to water. I’d been sitting on my couch feeling sorry for myself, when I impulsively started the movie two hours earlier. “You’re going to starting singing THIS song?”

But it was a gift. As was the whirlwind relationship. Because it reminded me that what I most want out of this life was to live it. 

And not alone. 

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The Third Wheel

Learning how to be enough.

On Saturday night I went to a super-fun party in my small New Jersey town and danced like there was no tomorrow.

The luau-themed affair was a fundraiser for our school district’s parent-teacher organization and it was held under a big white tent on somebody’s beautiful front lawn where very cute waiters passed precious hors d’oeuvres and bartenders filled our glasses from big pitchers of sweet mojitos.

I wore my very-favorite Forever 21 party dress, the one I picked up on a trip to San Francisco with my sisters maybe eight years ago – back when you could still find a gem or two at the now-ubiquitous mall store – and even though it’s made of acetate and cost about $20, it somehow makes me feel pretty whenever I slip it on.

The organizers had hired a fun local band and my gal pals and I jumped around to Hall & Oates and Journey songs on the packed dance floor late into the humid June night. And of the almost 300-and-something mommies and daddies crowded under the tent and singing along to songs from the 80s, I was probably the only one to have purchased just a single ticket for the event.

There are days that go by that I never even think about being single. The thought never crosses my mind. My life is full of my four children and lovely friends and books and writing and hiking and food shopping and juggling this whole shebang of a life and sometimes I’m really surprised when something reminds me that I’m divorced. Sometimes it really catches me off guard.

But Saturday night I really felt my singleness, but want to make it clear that it’s not because anyone made me feel that way. It’s just because it’s my own shit. My own internal hot button that gets pushed when I feel the absence of a plus-one. I feel the humiliation that comes from thinking anyone might be feeling sorry for me. That my aloneness is somehow kinda sad. I hate to think that husbands think of me as their wives’ perpetually-single friend who’s now become their problem.

Because right now I’d much rather be in my own company – which I kind of enjoy – rather than make any kind of compromise just to be a part of a pair. I mean, I’ve written about this before.

I came home from my nephew’s fourth birthday party earlier on Saturday – which had a superhero theme and the highlight was getting to snuggle somebody’s three-week-old baby – and realized I had nobody to go to the luau with. I had not made plans to attach myself as a third wheel to one of my couple friends. I laid down on my bed and struggled to decide which was the sadder scenario: inviting myself to go with friends or arriving by myself. I can’t tell you the wave of sadness that I felt and considered bagging the whole thing except my daughter had given me wavy party hair earlier and I hated to see that, and the $65 ticket, go to waste.

But when you are not a part of a couple, you’re also not included in a lot of couple-driven stuff. It’s not that you’re excluded; coupled folks just don’t think to include you. I have wonderful friends who have scooped me up and wrapped me into a lot of their fun but the trouble probably is that they’re all married.

And really, how am I ever going to meet available men if all I do is married-people stuff?

The feeling sorry for myself part lasted about 30-seconds. I got a little teary eyed and then realized how ridiculous I was being and picked up my phone and started texting friends and in no time a car pulled up and I squeezed in with some of my favorite couples as their seventh wheel. Once we got to the party, the men gravitated towards other men and women did the same and by the end of the night we were all standing around another couple’s kitchen and laughing over cocktails and pretzels and I had long stopped feeling sorry for myself and my single status.

Because let’s face it: we want to be part of a couple and then we are involved with someone and then we wished we were alone and then we’re finally alone again and then we start thinking it might be better to be a part of a couple. It’s crazy.

We’re never fucking happy. Nothing is perfect.

There are wonderful things about being alone – full power over the remote control is just one thing that comes to mind – and there’s lots of good stuff about being part of a twosome – like you never have to arrive solo at a party or sit alone at a bar.

Maybe it’s just a matter of enjoying where you are in the process and for me, it’s knowing that right now, I am enough. And maybe, just maybe, I should just stop thinking and dance.

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10 Days of Fun


This meme pretty much sums up my last 10 days.

Here is the downside of going out nine times in ten days: you don’t really get a lot of stuff done. And while I’ve amassed about a book’s-worth of stories – oh my god, do I have some good stories – I can’t really write about most of them. I mean, you can call me up and I’d share a few of them with you, but I totally can’t put it all out there on my blog. I have a reputation to maintain, you know.

So I haven’t really known what to write about in the meantime. Even the guy I work out with, who was away on vacation last week, laughed when I told him some of my stories this morning and was like, “You haven’t written anything in so long, I knew something was going on.”

My “10 Days of Fun,” as I have taken to calling this party-thon, was a convergence of pre-planned activities that were coincidentally strung together over many consecutive days – including a dinner to celebrate some Leo ladies’ birthdays, a going away party for neighbors and good friends and my 30th high school reunion.

I know.

And there has been dancing, people, lots and lots of dancing and teetering around in high heels and as a result, walking has become a bit of an issue. I woke up Sunday morning and the first thing I said to my high school BFF, who came up from Virginia for the reunion and was lying next to me in bed, was, “My fucking bunions are killing me.”

Sexier words have never been spoken between two people lying in bed together.

But I’ve had a bee in my bonnet lately about going out and having fun. It’s like I’m going through that phase that most divorced people go through when they first taste the freedom of being single, except I’m on a five-year delay. When my marriage collapsed, instead of rushing out to party and console myself in the arms of someone else, I kind of went into hiding. I spent my time drinking wine in the homes of close friends and acting like Greta Garbo. I just hated the idea of people talking about me and didn’t want to add to things already being said. I kept my nose clean and focused on my kids and my new, all-consuming job.

And I think it’s safe to say that that was a good move. I figured out how to be happy by myself and with myself and maintain my dignity during a difficult period. I had fun, but it was more of the go-out-to-dinner or go-to-the-movies kind of fun.

Oh, how things have changed.

I had more fun in the month of July than all of 2011. I have danced to “Rosalita” on a packed dance floor on a hot Sunday night. I stood and ate cheese fries around midnight with high school friends and laughed about how much and how little had changed in 30 years. I squatted with my face pressed next to my oldest daughter’s at the bottom of an ice luge as shots of vodka raced down the chutes and into our mouths. And I kissed a guy in a bar on a dare by a girlfriend and was reminded of just how good chemistry between two people can be.

That kind of fun.

I spent my final night of fun back out with a group of friends from town to celebrate/mourn the pending departure of one of the families to Hong Kong and also trying to recapture all the fun we had at this particular bar the week before. We brought the husbands this time, too, and ate sliders and peeled shrimp on the back porch before heading downstairs to dance and drink mixed drinks out of Dixie cups. Even the guys got in on the act of being my Wingmen and interviewed my potential dance partners over beers. One poor guy had to go through so many rounds of interviews before he could dance with me that by the time he was finished, I had snuck off and found someone else to dance with.

I think some of this non-stop fun is due, in part, to my upcoming 48th birthday but can attribute a lot of my recent shenanigans to just being more open to dudes. I now realize that for a long time, I just wasn’t into the idea of guys and dating. For some reason, it freaked me out. I just couldn’t deal. But then I dated someone I kind of liked and, boom, wanted to do it again.

But I’ve always been a late bloomer. I mean, I started drinking and smoking when I was, like, 12, but some of the bigger things – like developing self-awareness and healthy boundaries – came a lot later to me than normal people.

So, you all will be happy to know that tonight, I will not be putting on eye shadow and telling my kids to make themselves pizza bagels. Instead, I plan on getting into bed early and watching a movie or starting a new book. I might not even drink.

I need to rest up, since I’m out every night for the rest of this week. There are four more weeks until Labor Day, you know.

Maybe we should call this my “Summer of Fun.”









Dating Naked: The End of the World as We Know It

Credit: VH-1

Credit: VH-1

It’s official: The end of the world is right around the corner.

How do I know this? Because I just learned about a new show on VH-1 called Dating Naked, and if that is not a sign that civilization is about to implode, I do not know what is.

I’ll be honest, I have not watched – nor do I ever intend to – watch the show. I am basing everything on reviews I read about it in The Times and New York Magazine. And I still feel dirty.

I mean, isn’t dating bad enough? Isn’t it hard enough to have to sit at a bar and worry about exposing how many kids you have to your date, much less the state of your abdomen?

And, honestly, what woman really wants to see a guy’s junk right away? I mean, no offense, but that’s a visual really best left to the imagination.

For second date fun-and-games on this new show, couples actually have to move around naked and do stuff like roll around in the ocean in a giant see-through ball and body painting (I don’t even have the stomach to tell you which body part one of the gentlemen uses to create, ahem, art).

Credit: VH-1

Credit: VH-1

But of course, these contestants – or however we need to refer to them – are not middle-aged divorcees but generally folks in their 20s and 30s. I guess they didn’t go to 12 years of Catholic school and feel really good about walking around naked. But still.

It takes a lot of courage to put your heart out there, even in a turtleneck. Why would you want to up the vulnerability ante by doing so naked?

And who would want to watch that?

Credit: VH-1

Credit: VH-1





‘How Ugly is This Guy?’: Things My Kids Ask About My Dates

images “Okay, Mom,” said my 17-year-old daughter, totally out of the blue not long ago. “How ugly is this guy?”

We had been lying around our den one afternoon – along with her older sister and best friend from across the street – laughing and chatting about nothing in particular, when she asked her question.

I had just started dating someone and although it was the first real relationship I had had since I split from their dad five years earlier, the girls really didn’t want any details. In fact, the entire subject of this new guy made their faces twist in disgust and brought an abrupt halt to the conversation.

So I was surprised she would ask me anything about him, especially what he looked like.

“I don’t know,” I told her. “I think he’s kind of cute.”

She then proceeded to make gagging noises and pretended to vomit over the arm of the leather chair she was draped in. But the neighbor was all over it; leaning forward to get every detail she could about my new dating life.

“Maggie is, like, obsessed with this,” my daughter sniped and she told her friend to cut it out. She made it clear that my dating life was totally disgusting and not cool.

I always thought that by the time I got around to dating, once we were able to brush all the ashes and soot of the nuclear fallout of my divorce off and get on with our lives, my kids would be happy to see me happy.

I am so naïve.

The truth of it is that children, for the most part, are not really that interested in their parents’ happiness; especially when it puts their own happiness at risk.

No, it turns out my kids would rather see me alone, surrounded by cats and stacks of newspapers and back issues of The New Yorker, than with a significant other.

And for a long time, that seemed to be my trajectory. I was really busy with a demanding full-time job and managing the fallout of the divorce – all of the emotional ups and downs – to even think about dating. I had a pissed off ex-husband and three ornery teenagers so I didn’t really feel the need to develop any new relationships. I had enough personalities on my plate to manage, thank you.

But five years after everything imploded, even my therapist was like, “Start dating, already.” And I tried. I signed up for online services and never said “no” to anyone trying to fix me up with someone. I even gave a checkout guy my number, for gods sakes.

But my heart wasn’t really in it.

So, unlike all the glasses of wine and cups of coffee I shared with a litany of fix ups before, I went on a date not long ago with not only an open mind, but an open heart and kind of liked the guy enough to go out again the next night.

And I’ve got to admit, the whole thing came out of the blue. One minute I’m going to meet yet another guy at a bar for a drink and the next, we’ve gone out together seven times in two weeks.

So the kids were annoyed that this new relationship briefly took me away from being on call 24/7 for sandwich making duties and counter wiping. They like the idea of me standing in our kitchen at the ready as they go about their lives. They like to know that I’m around on the off chance that they might need me.

And they’ve been jealous of things that have taken my attention away from them in the past – like my girlfriends and my former job – but nothing compared to the disdain they employed when discussing my love life.

One night, as I rushed around the kitchen putting out taco fixings for dinner before I got picked up to go out on a date, two of the kids were complaining that I was going out with this guy again and I threw up my hands and asked, “You guys, don’t you want me to be happy?”

And the two of them looked at me and said, unequivocally, “No.” They barely blinked before they said it.

My 20-year-old daughter told me she had come home from a summer class the night before and was feeling cranky about the course and when she saw her older brother sitting on the couch watching TV, she asked him where I was.

“Out on a date,” he said.

“AAARRRGGGHH!” was, I think, the response she said she gave him and he immediately snapped back, “Cut it out. Mom deserves to date.”

So, at least a quarter of my progeny can see past themselves and support my love life.

I tried to talk to each kid about it privately. I tried to assure them that I wasn’t going to marry the guy. We were just dating and that if it wasn’t him, at some point it was going to be somebody else.

I told this to my little guy, and he just said, “Face.”

“Face?” I asked. “What do you mean face?”

“I want to see his face,” he told me. “Take a selfie so I can see what he looks like.”

But it never came to that. The relationship lasted the duration of two gel manicures — for whatever reason — but it taught me a lot about myself and what I want. And I think it was a really good experience for the kids. It helped brace them for when I am in a relationship that lasts longer than a month.

No matter what he looks like.




The Price of Freedom


My ex-husband and I finally and completely called it quits on our marriage on July 4, 2009. Afterwards, even though he was the one who pushed me off the steep cliff of indecision, he sent me a text wishing me a “Happy Independence Day.” And while that was kind of a snarky thing to write, it was also kind of true.

I was finally free.

We had initially separated about seven months earlier and then agreed we would go to counseling together to try and find a way to make things work. But honestly, I don’t think I ever really thought that was going to happen. Neither of us ever got what we needed from the other.

And I keep going back to the notion of things we want versus things that we need. Because even though I initially wanted to stay married and keep our family intact at all costs, a divorce was the one thing I really needed.

I remember standing in the foyer of our house after he’d rushed over early that July 4 morning to confront me about something that had happened the night before. Something pretty stupid and not something you’d end your almost 18-year marriage over. But we were at the end stage where you didn’t really need much to snuff out whatever life was left in the relationship. It was like the bad fall that beats cancer to the punch.

As we stood there by the front door and he asked me if I was sure I wanted to end things, I remember thinking about how good his arms looked. He was wearing a sleeveless grey workout top and his biceps looked pretty great after months of living on his own during our separation and working out twice a day. It was hot out and he was kind of worked up from the heat and the situation and his tanned arms kind of glistened from the exertion of it all and I stood and admired how good he looked and thought how much I’d miss those biceps.

And then I looked into those beautiful blue eyes of his – the ones I looked into that rainy day all those years ago when we said “I do” and the ones I kissed, between and over his perfect brows countless times – and told him that, yes, our marriage was over.

And he walked out the door.

At the time, I didn’t even shed a tear. I was more terrified than sad about the rapid turn of events. It would take at least another year and countless hours on my therapist’s couch to really start feeling the sadness of what happened. To start burrowing a tunnel through the fortress I had built around my heart.

But over time, I’ve learned that the takeaway from my marriage is that being a part of a relationship shouldn’t cost you anything. Sure, you might have to barter and trade for certain things – you need to be willing to compromise – but you shouldn’t have to pony up, like, your dignity or self-respect just to be a part of a couple. That is a steep price to pay just so that you don’t have to be alone.

This revelation came in handy recently when I found myself seeing somebody who just couldn’t give me what I needed and my options were to go along with it but feel yucky about myself, or cut bait.

And because I can no longer compromise what I need out of a relationship or the way I have to be treated, I had to cool things off. We didn’t totally close the door, but we’re taking a break.

But I’m just not willing to sacrifice the freedom I’ve tasted to be a part of a couple. I’ve worked too hard trying to be true to who I am for that shizz.

I still miss the barbeques and fireworks we shared as a family and of course, those really nice biceps, but not how much it all cost me. I really want to be in a relationship – I know that now – but not at any price.

Freedom is too expensive to waste.








Here’s the Story

IMG_3118 2Okay, now I get it.

For the longest time, I’ve been trying to figure out where they were, the guys my age. At least the ones who weren’t married and were straight.

As many of you may remember, I’ve spent a little time dabbling on I say “dabble” because I’ve gone ahead and created a profile, uploaded photos and exchanged a few emails with dudes and ultimately went on exactly one date. And it was totally meh.

But of all the emails, favorites and winks I’ve received on the dating web site, none of them are from men in their 40s. I’m plenty popular with the young guys in their 30s and the older dudes in their 50s and 60s, but men born around the same time as me are scarce.

Now I know why.

As I was trolling Facebook yesterday, something I am wont to do in my semi-retirement and looking for things to keep me busy, I saw the following tidbit posted by the Today Show:

All the young boys love Florence.

All the young boys love Florence.


The guys my age are trying to date 80-year-old Florence fucking Henderson.

That explains everything.

That explains why I not only don’t get any emails, winks, nods, pokes or whatever from 40-year-old men on Match, but when I actually send messages to men my age who don’t look like they want to keep me in a cage in their basement in Queens, I get no response.

Like, crickets.

And of course there is the possibility that the notes I’m sending are perceived as weird, my profile boring (one man did observe that it seemed I really liked to watch TV), my pictures are ugly or I have too many kids.

I get that.

But today, I am going with the notion that they’re just too busy trying to get it on with Carol Brady.

That’s the better story.











Risky Business

DSC02004At this stage of the game, even my therapist has had enough.

We met last week and she asked me how the dating was going, since I had been making such a big stink about being ready to get out and start meeting men.


“Um, not so good,” I told her. “I signed up for Match but, like, I’m just not feeling it.

“They’re all too, I don’t know … meh,“ I said, shrugging my shoulders. “Nobody is killing me.”

On the one hand, maybe it’s just that there’s too much jam from which to chose online.

Or maybe, just maybe, the problem is that I’m just not as open to love as I’ve claimed to be.

If there’s one person riding in the singles boat who I relate to right now, it’s not the recently-separated woman I know who is having a blast fooling around with men she’s meeting online, or another who’s already had a few relationships with dudes she’s met on Match since her divorce this year.

The woman I relate most to is the character Julia Louis-Dreyfuss plays in the movie “Enough Said,” who’s been divorced for 10 years and makes announcements like “There are no men at this party I am attracted to,” and admits that this is not unusual.

[SPOILER ALERT: As much as I hate to see you go, you might want to stop reading if you plan on seeing the movie this weekend. I’m about to give it all away.]

Anyway, she goes on a date with James Gandolfini’s character, even though “he’s a little fat,” and discovers she can actually get past the lack of initial physical attraction. But she starts to second-guess her growing attraction to him after she accidentally befriends his ex-wife, who can’t stop talking about the shlub she used to be married to.

Here’s a scene between Dreyfus’s character Eva and her friend, Sarah (played by the amazing Toni Collette):

Eva: “I have lost all perspective. I’ve been listening to this woman say the worst things about the guy that I’m starting to really like. She’s like a human TripAdvisor.”
Sarah: “Albert is not a hotel.”
Eva: “If you could avoid staying at a bad one, wouldn’t you?”

Eventually, her relationship with the two is uncovered – and it’s one of those scenes that makes you cringe – and Eva tearfully explains to Gandolfini’s Albert that, in so many words, since she’d already been divorced, she was making sure she wasn’t making another bad choice.

She was just trying to hedge her bets.

And that’s what I get. Totally. Love is risky business.

You guys, my heart was broken. Shattered into a million pieces. It hurt so much I didn’t think I would ever be able to get out of bed and move on with my life.

But I did. I swept up all the chunks and shards of what was left of that heart and dumped the pieces into a vault that’s keeping that sucker safe while it slowly mends.

Sure, my kids stomp on it all the time, but I know those assholes love me. I know they actually care if they hurt me (usually) and want to make me happy (most of the time).

Because our love for each other is unconditional.  I will still love them when they smack up my car or punch a hole in my wall. I will still love them when they slam their door or say snotty things to me. Even when they say they hate me. And they love me, even when I’m being a jerk or when another sibling seems to be getting more (money, cookies, love – fill in the blank).

Our love is not predicated upon what we can do for each other. It’s not tit-for-tat. I do things for those jerks because I just love them. And I know deep inside the core of their soft-and-chewy centers, underneath those hard-and-crunchy shells, they love me back.

So, how am I supposed to trust an outsider? Someone who’s not been completely vetted? How am I going to let him open that box and hold my heart in his hands without knowing, beyond reasonable doubt, that he’s not just another jackass who’ll drop it on the ground and step on it like it’s nothing?

Bottom line: I’m scared.

And I know, I’m nothing special. People get their hearts broken all the time and they pick themselves up and try again. I’m just letting my fear trip me up.

But when I think about all the things I’ve done that have scared the shit out of me – like giving birth, competing in a triathlon, getting a divorce – I know that while those things terrified me while I was in the midst of them, I felt like the fucking boss when I came out the other end.

I felt like I could do anything.

And of course, my therapist was quick to point these things out.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” she asks. “A breakup? You’ve survived that. You could survive it again.”

And it’s true: I can and I have.

“You don’t want to miss out on such an important part of life,” she continued.

And that’s where she got me, because she knows that I want to experience all that life has to offer. I don’t want to miss out on anything. Especially real love.

Then she directed me to go out and have 10 experiences — like coffee dates — before we meet again next month.

Whoa. That’s a lot of small talk. But I’ve accepted her challenge and am scrambling to dig up 10 bodies. Feel free to help, and I’ll keep you posted.

I’ll let you know if it’s worth the risk.






My sister gave me this tank top years ago and even though it’s worn out and my kids are way too old for me to wear it any more, I just can’t bring myself to throw it away.

I went on a date last night with an amazing guy.

Really, we were totally on the same page and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. I liked chatting with him and watching how he talked with his hands. And he was really cute, too, with beautiful blue eyes.

And it wasn’t anything fancy, either, our date. We grabbed some grub from the local pizza joint and then decided to ride bikes to the supermarket later to get some Ben & Jerry’s to accompany an Arrested Development marathon.

I mean, the guy knew just what I liked. But of course he would, we’ve been living together for 10 years and I’m actually the kid’s mom.

It’s just the two of us this week – with the two older kids back at school and Kid #3 away at the beach through Labor Day with friends – and a preview of what life will look like in two years when that third child goes off to college.

My son even referred to it as a date at one point and I started thinking about how fitting it was, having a quality evening with a great guy on the cusp of what I like to think of as Operation Date.

It all started, as these things often do (no, not on Facebook this time) in my therapist’s office. On her couch, specifically, which I’ve never lied down upon but where I have found myself crying on numerous occasions and a few times doing some role playing of assorted relationships in my life that vex me.

My therapist is the perfect combination of supportive, yet firm. Like, she always “hears what I’m saying” but she’s not about to encourage me to feel sorry for myself.

She also gives nothing away. She makes me work for my enlightenment. Like after I read a book she had recommended – among many she has suggested over the years – I walked into her office the next week and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me I was codependent?”

She just smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

And in response to questions I ask like “What should I do?” and “How should I feel?” my therapist calmy asks in return, “Well, what do you want to do?” or “How does that make you feel?”

The point is, she never tells me what to do. It’s maddening.

So, imagine my surprise when, during our last session in July, she threw down the gauntlet and issued a challenge.

“Do you think you can go on three dates before we meet again in a month?” she asked.

It had come to that. Even my all-patient therapist was like, “Start dating, already.”

I know. I mean, I’ve been legit divorced for three years and separated at least a year before that.

And to be honest, my focus initially was not on me but my kids and making sure they didn’t have that yucky rug-pulled-out-from-under-them feeling. Not to mention, I’d just come out of a 20+ year relationship – what was the rush? I had plenty of my own baggage to sort through, why start trying to shoulder somebody else’s?

But here’s the truth of it: for as much as I go on about my fear of traveling to Greece alone or how scary teens can be, I am totally terrified of dating.

It is scarier than snakes, zombies and spiders combined. All day long.

But of course, I’m not going to let these things hold me back so on Sunday, I signed up (again) on

I signed up probably around the same time last year, but my heart was never in it. I was freaked out by any pokes that came my way or dudes whose eye I had caught. Not to mention I lost the password to the email I had set up for the account and thus couldn’t access anything if I tried.

But this time is different. I was texting with a girlfriend yesterday and announced, “I am going to start dating like a motherfucker.” I am treating this like another job and going to sift through the duds to find some potential gems.

I got this advice from this pretty fabulous woman I met not long ago who married later and thus was better versed on the dating scene than someone like me who pretty much married her high school boyfriend.

We were sitting on the back deck of the local Irish bar, and after she finished encouraging me to sign up with an online service, waved her hand at the assorted not-impressive dudes standing around the bar, and said, “I mean, do you think you’re going to find someone here?”

But so far, it’s a lot of duds. It’s almost comical, really. One gentleman began his email, “Hi, Hunny” (stop, no please don’t say that to me) and another looks exactly like that prison guard on Orange is the New Black they call “Pornstache.”



I needed to give you the visual.

And they are all in their 50s and live in like Kew Gardens or Bayonne.

I suppose I could be the one poking or getting my eye caught, but I’m just not there yet.

This is not to say that I don’t want to find someone to watch Arrested Development marathons with and eat straight out of the Ben & Jerry’s tub (naturally we’d each have our own pint).

Someone who asks me if, instead of cutting through the soccer fields and bank parking lot in town, I’d rather ride our bikes the long way home.

Because with him, of course I would. All day long.


bad karma

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to make sure the universe and I are on the same page.

The universe?

You know, the “universe” which, according to sources like The Secret, a certain Tarot card reader I know and my therapist, returns to you what you put out into the world. Like a great cosmic boomerang, the universe’s law of attraction throws you what you ask for, even when you don’t realize that that’s what you ordered.

Accordingly, not only does douchy behavior beget douchy circumstances, but thoughts and words can become self-fulfilling prophesies. So while I try to make it a priority not to act like a douche bag to others, it can be challenging having all bright and sunny thoughts and conversation when my default mode is self-deprecation.

So, since my divorce I’ve tried to be clear about what I want. I’ve written down where I see myself professionally/romantically/personally a year from now, five years from now and so on.

I even cobbled together a list in my journal of qualities that I am looking for in a partner. It’s kind of great, actually, like placing an order at a deli.

“I’ll take smart with a side of respectful, hold the bully. And maybe some integrity on the side. Oh, and funny. Definitely extra funny. (You can slather that on, it’s like the secret sauce).”

But as I close in on the three-year anniversary of my divorce, my still-single status is making me wonder if perhaps the universe and I are not speaking the same language. Like I’m screaming “Hey! I’d like a really good man in my life!” in the universe’s equivalent of Mandarin when I really should be using sign language because the universe is fucking deaf.

I mean even a friend who recently announced, out of the blue, that she was leaving her husband is already madly in love with someone else.

Clearly, it’s me. Maybe I’m just too happy being single.

My eyebrow girl, who has served as a sounding board for me over the years while she tends to my brows and moustache, suggested I try making eye contact and smiling at strangers, which is the opposite of my natural inclination to quickly look the other way and pretend I’m invisible.

She even helped me create a mantra, “I am open to romantic love with a good man,” to let the universe know that I meant business (witness “romantic” love and “good” man).

I briefly considered working with that Tarot card reader a few months ago after being told that my heart chakra was blocked, thus preventing love from entering my life. I was actually going to fork over a few hundred dollars for three hour-long sessions for her to help me pry that thing open. But then I got a hold of my senses and realized I’d really rather just buy a great new pair of shoes.

So it was the universe I was worried about sending mixed messages to the other day when I found myself writing my phone number down on a blank piece of register tape for the check out guy at Trader Joe’s who told me I had a nice smile.

I had thought he was pretty chatty as he asked me about my day while bagging my faro and frozen fruit, but I didn’t really see where things were heading. But then he asked me if my husband worked from home like me, and I thought, “That’s a weird thing for a checkout guy to ask.”

Still, I was blindsided when he asked, while waiting for my credit card authorization, if he could contact me some time to “talk.”

Number one: As noted, that does not happen to me every day. Check out guys hitting on me. C’mon. I was so surprised I didn’t have time to react. I had to make a quick decision and slink away before he started ringing up the woman behind me.

Number two: I don’t want the universe to think that I’m not open to love when it was so clearly showing me, right there at the cash register, that at least the check out guy thought I was. Maybe this was some kind of a test.

I kept a straight face long enough to get out to my car and hide inside until my girlfriend answered the phone and I started howling with laughter. I think she thought I was crying at first.

I mean, seriously, I make a list of like 100 attributes I’d like in a mate — everything from his height to the absence of a felony charge or conviction — and this is the best the universe can muster?

And don’t think he hasn’t already texted. And called. Twice.

But I think I’m just going to have to tell him that while I was flattered by his interest, I just can’t run the risk of having to hide every time I need to pick up chocolate covered almonds or Greek yogurt. Because love and companionship may come and go, y’all, but Trader Joe’s is forever.

I hope the universe is listening.

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