Candy Land

I spoke to a guy I used to be close to last week. It was a phone call precipitated by a text exchange precipitated by a text—mine (of course!) I’d contacted him the night before. Humbling myself, swallowing my pride, burying my self-esteem (Do feel free to insert other descriptions—if you’ve done it, you know them!), I asked him if he would drop by. Naturally I couched the request beneath reasons (pretty valid ones, I thought). I explained I was overwhelmed with family and financial issues, a looming deadline and a loved one’s serious hospitalization. Just needing an escape and a moment unfocused on problems and worry, I eventually cut to the chase and got to my point. (If you’ve done it, you know what’s coming next.)

I admitted I was horny. (Gasp!)

Yes. It was a mistake. It was a humiliating admission—and request.  A move taken right out the Breakup for Dummies not to do chapter! But wait! It gets better!  You see . . . we’d not seen one another in 4 months. I truly thought I was pretty much over him. In fact, I thought I pretty much hated him. I thought he’d stayed on my mind (and in my phone) only because he owes money. After all, how could I delete his number and forget him completely when that financial detail stands unresolved?

So what happened? Why did I text that night?

At the time, I convinced myself it was physical. Or just a moment of foolish weakness. (Sometimes when we are down, we reach back.) But was it? As it turned out, it didn’t matter. He never responded. (Big surprise!) So the next morning I did. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a friendly text—or a short one. In short, I demanded he start to pay me back. I know many of you reading this will now be shaking your heads. “Count your blessings!” “Call it a loss and move on.” “You’re better off.” “You deserve better. And you’ll find better when you believe you deserve better.” Ladies, believe me. I KNOW!!! There isn’t anything any of you can tell me that I haven’t told myself.

Unfortunately, the answer to “How can a supposedly intelligent woman be so f**king STUPID?!?” has an indisputable explanation:  Emotion doesn’t play by rules—nor  by “not to do” guidelines. Moreover, for some of us (and you know who you are) moving forward after an ended relationship is like playing a board game:  ala Roll the dice, get a three, move forward three spaces. Roll a six—whoo-hoo—move six! Occasionally, however, we players of this Getting Over a Relationship game can (and usually will) land on spaces that send us backwards. Most of these spaces are labeled “MEMORIES.” But there’s also the damn ones that can send the player back nearly to the effing beginning! These spaces are typically labeled “GIVE IT ANOTHER CHANCE”  “FORGIVE HIM” and “UH-OH! YOU GOT HORNY AND TEXTED HIM.”  (BTW, in this twisted version of Candy Land for adults, there is no egg timer to flip over to determine the allowable time frame. There are, however, cards you will be left holding if you don’t use or discard them in time.) So back to my round of Getting Over a Relationship/Candy Land last week . . .

There was no immediate answer to my “not short” text. When one arrived hours later, I wasn’t prepared. His first words were he was sorry for what was going on with me and my family. He said he wasn’t being rude in not responding sooner. He’d been off work with a serious injury and was on pain meds. Therefore he was “just waking up and only now getting all this.” All I could type was “oh.” (As in uh-oh.  Trust me. What I’d unloaded in a spate of hurt, anger and a whole lot of other emotions had been a hell of a lot to “get” in one text!) I said I was sorry he was hurt. (And I was.) He answered he’d live. And again he wrote he was sorry I was going through what I was. We both had a lot going on, he said.

If you have played GOR/CL, you will relate to my next move. I deliberated first, of course. Then I played one of my PHONE CALL cards. He answered. (I was honestly surprised he did.) I offered an apology for the text. He said it was ok. He said he “got it” that I was “venting.”

“I just always assume the worst,” I said.

“I know you do.” He laughed.  “When I see a text from you with all those words . . . I know. You’re venting. A lot has happened all at once. It’s ok. It’s allowed. You’re allowed.”

“I just hate the loss of control,” I said.

He laughed quietly. “I know you do.”

And there it was . . . in his voice . . . what I’d not heard in nearly 5 months:  Warmth, wrapped in the intimacy that had once existed between us. Damn! Yes, he knows me. Better than any man I have ever known, in fact. We spoke for over 20 minutes, as friends. And as we talked about everything that was going on with each of us, I realized how much I miss the friend—not the lover. (Yes, color me surprised at that one!)  It was the WORST thing he could have done to me—be the friend I’d once had.

After we hung up, I picked it apart. (Of course, I did!) And I also assumed the worst. (Of course, I did!) First off, he was on pain killers, I reminded myself. And second, by his being “nice,” I didn’t bring up the money. Cynical bitch that I am—I figured (Of course, I did!) he did it on purpose. After all . . . he KNOWS me! But whether his move was deliberate or not, is of no import to the point of this post. What matters is that I landed on one of those freakin’ spaces you sometimes can’t avoid when you play GOR/Candy Land.  Yep. Whatever progress I was making in moving forward just got reversed. Like it or not (and I don’t!) I’ve been moved back twelve spaces! Not quite back to the beginning . . . but pretty f**king close. Damn!

My optimistic and romantic-at-heart girlfriend is convinced it’s not over between us. I’m just as convinced she’s wrong. He doesn’t “need time to figure it out,” because there is no “it” to figure out. He doesn’t do relationships. Period. We both agreed to the rules upfront. But then we both broke them. And so when it began to appear that was exactly where our pieces were likely headed, he played his “GAME OVER” card. He swept Lord Licorice and Queen Frostine back into the box and folded up the board.

And so I’m left still holding a bunch of cards I thought I had discarded in time . . .  FUN, ADVENTURE, TRAVEL, SEX, CONVERSATION and FRIENDSHIP.  Damn! Who would have thought the last two would be the ones with the highest value?

The Long and the Short of It

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair—unless you’re over 50. Then it’s time to cut that sh*t off! Or so pretty standard conventional wisdom would have us do. BTW, just who the hell is “conventional wisdom?” Those nameless, faceless forces we also address and refer to as “they say” and “according to them?” Someday I’d really like to meet “cw” and “they” and “them,” ‘cause, man, do I have questions . . . but back to today’s topic of hair. (Betcha thought it was going to be about something else, didn’t ya?)

Mine has always been a thing with me. Maybe because I grew up in the hippie, Haight-Ashbury “be sure to wear a flower in your hair” hair days—when long and straight and parted in the middle was the look to have? Vividly do I remember my sister and I competitively comparing whose was longer. It was probably 1967 or 68. (The fact hers was blond and mine wasn’t always gave her the edge, regardless.)

Over the course of my 61 years, I’ve had every hair style imaginable, beginning with those hideous Mamie Eisenhower bangs in the 50s and the aforementioned flower child look of the 60s, to be followed by the permed ‘fro of disco and the Farrah Fawcett wings of the 70s, with a grand finale of the 80s’ Dynasty “big hair.” (Needed, no doubt, to balance out those shoulder pads! What were we thinking?) It’s been long to my waist and short. Like above the ears short—usually after each pregnancy—‘cause no new mother has time to wash and care for long hair. Besides, the little sucker (pun intended) just loved to grab on and yank the crap out of that crap. I’ve been permed, dyed, frosted, streaked and highlighted. (Remember those caps and that freaking crochet hook?) Curling irons, flat irons and styling wands . . . yeah I’ve had a few. Colors, too. Dirty dishwater natural to fried and dyed peroxide blond to red and even black. (Trust me—not a good look on me!) The need to reinvent, the desire to improve, the constant search for “better” than what God gave me . . . yep, been there, done that. My most drastic change was leaving school on a Friday afternoon with mid-back blond and returning Monday morning with a red shoulder bob. But I digress . . . but thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!

Nowadays it’s long again, some odd color that is natural grow out, incoming gray and leftover “caramel” from my last saloon visit—nearly a year ago. She left me with an orange stripe down the middle, and I’ve not been back since. I’ve not had it cut or trimmed either. So it’s below my waist. I know I should cut it. “They” say I should. But it’s become the representation and symbol of a personal struggle. Five years ago I started to lose it, not everywhere, but in the front. I used to have a widow’s peak. Now I don’t. And along with the added inch of forehead, I’ve lost my eyebrows—all a result of some stress-induced auto immune disease I fight to keep at bay. (Let’s see . . . my mom’s passing, the end of my marriage, my son’s 2 deployments, another’s divorce, my ex’s death—yeah, I’d say there’s been stress.) Ironically, as the forehead grows, so too the length. Go figure!

So back to cutting it . . . I occasionally think maybe I should. But my dermatologist says no. She says it’s my “signature” and she’s devoted to saving it. I get compliments on it all the time—but sometimes I wonder (because truthfully, I have a lousy self-esteem)—if they aren’t backhanded ones. (As in, Geeze, lady from the back you look one way—but when you turn around . . . damn, girl! The hair and the face just don’t go!”  And as “they” say . . . no fool like an old fool . . .)

I’m not alone in my hair dilemma. I saw a Facebook post the other day (which actually inspired this diatribe) in which a fifty-something woman posted pictures and flat-out asked “Should I whack it?” Naturally there were lots of comments, opinions and suggestions. It’s what we women do:  comment, opine and suggest. So here’s my 2 cents on the subject:  Regardless of age, some women just look better with short hair. If you do, do cut it. But if the cause for your cut contemplation is because it’s easier? Then I’m not so sure. Easy isn’t always better. But ultimately it’s your hair and your choice. But if the reason you are considering a whack job is solely because “according to them” you should—then hell no!

There are damn few positives about being 61—but the biggest one is the fact I don’t give much of a f**k any more about “they,” “them” and “conventional wisdom.” It’s me, myself and I these days. And we are all fine with doing whatever the eff we want to. Whether it’s venting in a blog or candidly addressing unconventionally unconventional subjects like sex after 60, I’m letting my hair down.

So to the woman over 50 who wants to rock her long locks . . . Rapunzel on, babe! I’ve got your back, hair covered or not.

On Open Letter to Men

Warning: The following is satire—the use of humor, irony, exaggeration and ridicule to bring attention to a topical issue or human folly in need of reform . . .

Dear Gentlemen:

On behalf of my fellow women—well, THAT’S oxymoronic! Scratch that. On behalf of my sister women everywhere, I am writing to make a request. When you are done with a relationship, could you please inform us? You see, your current and oh so popular methods of abruptly not returning texts or taking days to respond to a voice mail (i.e. fading, ghosting and Caspering) are not cutting it.

Honestly, it’s a small thing I’m asking. Just a couple of words—of your own choosing even! “I’m done.” “It’s over.” “Moving on.” All would suffice. And I’m sure if you all put your other collective heads together, you could come (pun intended) up with a few more alternatives.

I believe I speak for all women when I say this courtesy would be most appreciated. You see, for a women there is no more agonizing a kiss-off than the fade. You know to what I’m referring. For whatever reason, your feelings have changed. (Hey, it happens.) Or you’ve met someone new. (It happens.) Or you’ve gotten bored. (Yep, happens.) Such is life! Maybe she’s changed—or just revealed her true self. She’s now clingy, possessive, demanding of your time and/or money, a royal bitch or tiring drama queen  . . . hell, who wants that? I feel you. But please, do me a favor. Tell her you’re done, it’s over, you’re moving out and/or on. Don’t simply Casper on her and vanish. Unless the Feds just threw your ass into Witness Protection, you owe her that much! BTW, worse than the ghost act is the aforementioned fade game. Seriously? Is this written in a manual (pun intended) somewhere? Or do you all take lessons in junior high on how to dude-dump a female by degrees?

Let’s be clear, gentlemen. I’m not talking about a blow-up break-up. Unless she’s a moron, she knows it’s over. I’m talking about the one day turnaround, whereby one day it’s good and the next day you’re gone, and only you and God know what prompts it. True, trouble in Relationship Town might have been subtly brewing. But unless she has a clue . . . guys, it’s cruel! Do you have any idea how many hours we women spend with our girlfriends trying to decipher some dumb shit break-up text from you that says nothing? Do you do it on purpose? Is it step #3 in the How to Get Free Handbook? She pours her heart out to you in multiple tomes, and in return you send a “I read your texts” reply. Really?!? WTF! That’s not an answer! And it sure as shit ain’t closure. It’s not even close to what she NEEDS to hear. Note:  I didn’t say WANT, I said NEED. Whoever might have told you this is a kinder way to break-up with a woman LIED!  There is NO KIND way. But there is a RIGHT way I’ll get to presently.

First, a real example of what one of your gender did to one of mine: Thursday evening they are texting. He says he wants to take her out to dinner Saturday night. She’s arriving late Friday evening—too late for plans per se–but he states, “I’ll definitely swing by quick tomorrow night if only to see your beautiful smile.” TEN HOURS LATER (during which there has been NO contact) this text arrives:  “I’m going to be busy at work. I won’t have time to move forward in a relationship of any kind with you.” “What the hell happened in 10 hours?” she asks me. Lord! I don’t know! But there I am, trying to console (it’s what we girlfriends do). And I’m trying to come up with an explanation that makes any possible sense–an explanation BTW, that should have come from you! But hey, at least he had the balls (and yes, decency!) to be clear and explicit. In the plainest English he slammed the door shut on any possibility of resurrecting anything.

As opposed to another of your ilk and a second woman I know equally as well. Dude was out of town for 4 weeks. When he returned, he sent a text he was back with a “I’ll keep you posted on things” addendum. Of course, she called! The last time they saw one another he hugged her goodbye and told her she meant a lot to him. So what’s with the  friggin’ text? She comes right out and asks. She also asks if she’s going to see him. His response? “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll catch up.” Guess what? They didn’t. She never saw him again—despite his cowardly “leave the door cracked” tact—which only fosters futile and false hopes. Gentlemen, it’s not that hard. If you are moving on, SLAM THE F**KING DOOR on your way out!

Yes, I know we are different . . . men and women. We think differently, act differently, react differently—hell, I wrote a 3-part post here on the subject! Trust me, you’re not likely to find another woman who better understands men—and I’m confused as f**k! And before you think to call me out on it . . . yes, I know. Women do it to men, too. Heartbreak Street runs both ways. Plenty of women have hurt plenty of men. No gender owns the market on asshole moves and chicken-shit break-ups.

Speaking of . . .  they don’t happen only when the involvement goes south for a real reason. You’ll note I’ve spared you the discomfort of calling it a “relationship”—because God knows how that word terrifies most of your kind. Like sunlight to a vampire, you thrown up your hands to shield your face and seek desperate escape. Which segues into my next point . . .

For truly no better reason than she’s getting too close and you don’t “do” relationships, you bail. The problem is you usually don’t tell her. Gentlemen, here’s a newsflash:  For women, breaking up is a 2-part process. #1 is the notice of and #2 the reason for. But let’s just tackle #1 for now. As much as we want to know the WHY it’s over—it’s more important we know THAT it’s over. Doubtlessly, some of my sisters will vehemently disagree with me. But it’s my letter, and they can write their own.

So back to you bailing because she’s starting to like you “too much”. . . REALLY? So she likes you! Did she start picking out china patterns or baby names? Has she tried to change even one freaking thing about you? Does she blow up your phone when you’re not with her? Unless you can answer “Yes” to even one of these questions . . . CHILL THE FUCK OUT! Exactly what is it you are so afraid of? Commitment? Did she ask for it? Monogamy? Did she ask for it? Exclusivity? Did she ask for it?

Since we’re on the subject of sex, let’s talk about sex. Question:  How do you do the deed without the accompanying emotional feeling? I’m not talking one night stand or casual hook-up. I’m talking 4-5 months long, you’ve easily f**ked her 100 times, encounters—after which you reach for her and hold her close. I’m not judging, just asking. I’d really like to know. If one of you would care to explain it, I’ll gladly disseminate the information to my sisters. It would save a lot of confusion and do a great service to the cause of gender harmony.

If it’s a trade secret . . . how about a trade? I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. I’ll even go first. You see . . . we women . . . we can’t. We can’t f**k a guy dozens and dozens of times and NOT feel something FOR him. It just happens. As much as (trust me) we wish it didn’t. ‘Cause it would save one hell of a lot of heartache for us if we could. But the simple truth is, it’s an intimate act—ergo a sense of intimacy forms—and actually builds with each interaction. It’s a biological response—with oxytocin being the culprit. This chemical in our bodies increases with physical touch and it causes us to form an emotional, relational connection to the man delivering it. Sorry to break it to you, boys, but ya got this chemical, too. So how you’re all able to turn the switch to off or neutral is a mystery to us.

BTW, if you go and throw in extras—like calling her “Babe” or holding her hand or snuggling up to her in the night, you’re going to make it worse. Oh! And here’s another no doubt shocker . . .  if you talk about doing anything together in the future . . . Dude! She’s going to think there’s a fucking future! So why are you so damn surprised when she thinks there’s a thing between the two of you? Especially when you show up Sunday night after work and stay ‘til Wednesday AND tell her next time you’re bringing a uniform to hang in her closet so you can stay ‘til Thursday and go straight to work from her place?  Hello??!!

But just because we do develop the f-word for you in response to the f-act with you DOESN’T mean we want a promise ring or a rose garden—or even to be “an item.” Especially if she’s over 40, chances are good a woman loves her independence and living alone as much as you do. This may shock you, too . . . but very few older women—especially after 50—want to play house. Been there/done that is their mantra. Trust me on this one! The VERY LAST thing this single-at-sixty-year-old wants is to get attached at the hip to a man I have to cook and clean for and pick up after. Nor do I want to co-mingle my money and become in a few short years a nurse with a purse for your ass. Seriously, all I want is your respect.

Which returns us to my initial request. Your chicken-shit Casper acts and fade games are a demonstration of the deepest kind of disrespect. Again, I know you might think you are being kinder. But you’re not. Here’s my proposition:  In the spirit of achieving a mutually respectful and definite means to this end, how about if both parties agree upon a safe word? A quit word, if you will—to be agreed upon up front, in advance, at a relationship’s or involvement’s onset—a word to be texted if/when the time comes? I even have a suggestion. Rather than a hurtful word such as “done” or “over,” how about “canary?” Since when these little yellow birds keel over in a mine, it’s the signal to get the hell out—I think it’s rather fitting.

Granted, this won’t fix all the relationship issues and problems between our genders, but it would be a damn good start!

Sincerely yours,

Judith Hill

I am absolutely thrilled to announce the realization of a year and a half long dream! WINK: A Single at Sixty’s Odyssey Guide to Life, Love and Online Dating is NOW available to pre-order in Kindle format on Amazon!!!!! Release date is October 28th. (The paperback is in the works.)

If you have laughed over and enjoyed my posts about online dating, Ladies, you will love  WINK!  Written as a weekly journal, in an intimate girlfriend to girlfriend style, WINK chronicles my 6 month experience with online dating. For those who have online dated, it’s an instantly relatable “been there/done that” look back my dermatologist calls “peed my pants” hysterical. With chapter titles such as “The Penis Does the Picking” and “Talk Dirty to Me” it’s a must read for anyone considering a trip down the rabbit-hole. (Ladies, I hate to break it to you . . . but love may not be a mouse click away–despite what the TV ads would tell you!)

Seasons

There is no way to sugarcoat this. Starting over after a failed relationship sucks. Whether you are 14 or 40—or 61. (Yeah, Happy Birthday to me . . . not. I guess now I should change the name to single at 60something sucks?)

No matter how bad a relationship was or how badly it ended, there were good times. These are the memories that will crush you now. They drop into conscious thought when you least expect them, and always when your defenses are down. A song, a food, a word—and then they fall, drifting down and coloring your mood in sudden sadness. For me what haunts and hurts most is the question WHY? I don’t know why one day he just stopped wanting the relationship and friendship we had. He just did. I guess it simply had run its course for him. But that’s the nature of being—of living life and all its experiences, both good and bad and even the bitter with the sweet—to every thing there is a season.

As cliché as the saying is, not all relationships are meant to last. Tyler Perry (as Medea) offers some pretty sage advice in a 5 minute You Tube video called “Tree Friendship Wisdom.”  She (he) talks about how we sometimes mix up “seasonal people with lifetime expectations.” Seasonal people, whether they be friendships or relationships, she explains, are merely “leaves on a tree” and like leaves, they are going to wither and die. Her advice? “Let ‘em go.” (Easier said than done.)

Truly, it’s all seasonal when you think about it. A perpetual cycle of birth, growth, decay and death. Whether we are speaking of people, animals, nations, relationships or trees. There comes the bud of spring and a new beginning, the summer of full life, the fall of said life and then the seeming end that is winter.

I am in the autumn of my life (ironically, my favorite season—as seasons and trees go. Relationships . . . not so much.) I really did think I’d have it figured out better by now. I thought I’d be happier. I thought a lifetime of hard work and devotion to my family would have brought me satisfaction and contentment. Peace, too. I didn’t expect to be alone. I sure didn’t expect to still be making mistakes as far as men. Let me go on record: There is no worse feeling that putting all in and ending up with nothing. Again. When it was really really good and still didn’t work out . . . what hope can there be for a next time? A rational person has to figure out at some point, it’s just damn time to quit. Despite my talk of inevitable change and seasons, in this place and time (and mood) I can’t see it changing. Moreover, I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of wanting what life quite obviously has decided is not for me.

BTW, Medea’s advice to just “shut up and wait” aside, I am beyond tired of being told “It’s for the best because the right one hasn’t come along yet.” It’s one of the most frequently quoted of the triumvirate of trite pabulum designed to pacify and inspire. “Work on you” and “It will happen when you don’t expect it” are the other two. I once laughed the only place I seemed destined to find my “right one” was on a list of myths and urban legends. (I’m pretty damn sure “Judith’s right one” falls alphabetically right between Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.) I’m not laughing any more. I’m crying—crying “Uncle.”

Sarcasm and humor notwithstanding, sometimes the heart overpowers the mind.  I write what I feel. And if I’m being honest, what I feel today is that I’m done. It took me 60 years of living and a 36 year marriage before I found a man who incited that “spark,” who liked me for me, who loved my intellect and who actually appreciated my independence. A man not daunted by my strength, who could not only hold his own with the alpha female I am, but who rose to the challenge to come out on top. (Pun intended.) The chances of lightning striking twice are next to nil. Ergo, it’s time to acknowledge that changing leaves aren’t just pretty colors, they’re harbingers of a season’s passing.

I’m not alone.  I read a Facebook post tonight from a guy. (Yes, Heartbreak Street runs both ways.) He wrote that he would “never understand why the good ones will get f**ked over all the time no matter how hard we try.” He went on to declare, “I’m seriously done!”  Unsurprisingly, his post received dozens of comments in response. Plenty were of a like mind—others who feel the same and are also “done.” But others were annoyingly optimistic and insistent it would improve with time. (Like him, I wonder when?) Still, the prevailing theme was “No, don’t give up! Be patient. The right one is out there for you.”  Then there was the one, ala Medea: “Take time for you. People come in and out of our lives to teach or help.” (I, for one, am sick of this lesson!) The comment which resonated the most deeply for me was “I don’t understand why this has to be so difficult to find someone that wants my heart.”

I don’t understand either. Yes, I know life is too short “to leave the keys to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.” But the depressing truth is this–those who commented they had moved on and were happy hadn’t done it solo—they were happy because they had found someone better. (Great. Happy for ya.)

Which leaves (no pun intended) those of us in limbo in limbo with no choice but to let the seasons cycle. Falling leaves are as a relationship’s memories, beautiful to look at, but the life they held is over. We have to let them fall. Eventually the branch will be bare. Then, as we shiver and bundle up and watch the snow fall, we force our minds to remind our hearts:  to every thing there is a season . . .

Man-bashing

Ladies, I need your input. Recently a longtime family friend (male) asked my oldest, “Hey, what’s with your mom’s man-bashing blog?” At first I laughed. Then I got annoyed. Man-bashing? Really? Well, isn’t that effin’ typical? If a woman calls out a man, points out his short-comings, expresses her dissatisfaction or hurt feelings because of his actions, she’s automatically 1) a bitch 2) crazy 3) on the rag or 4) a man-hater??

A case in point, a few days ago same son and I had arranged to meet for dinner. He had a change of plans, but didn’t bother to text or call and inform me.  So I’m waiting and he’s off with friends. When I got angry at what I considered to be inconsideration, he accused me of having “a tizzy fit.” Time got away from him, he didn’t think it was a big deal, I was over-reacting, blah, blah. So maybe my kid is right? Or maybe he’s a 34-year-old brat? I’m going to go with the latter. Which leads me back to paragraph #1.

I need your comments. “Sucks” was always intended to be a forum for expression and reaction–both of and to my experiences and those of countless other women who have been in my single shoes. To date, as of today (coincidentally “sucks” 2 month anniversary), this blog has been viewed 2530 times by 1397 visitors in 41 countries. I’m thinking that’s A LOT of women who are relating . . . but perhaps I am wrong? (It wouldn’t be the first time.) Ergo my request now for your feedback.

As we women are wont to do, I now find myself questioning myself. On the one hand. I ask, “Have I become bitter? Is “sucks” redundant?” But on the other hand, if men keep giving me the fodder, am I the one at fault for lighting the fuse? I’d love for a man to prove me wrong! Takers?

Ladies, please give me your thoughts, suggestions and criticisms. You can comment here or email me at judithhill767@gmail.com.

Apples, Band-Aids & Clowns

In a 1975 song Paul Simon claimed there were “50 ways to leave your lover.” BTW, he actually only listed 5 . . . regardless, I disagree. There are only 3. Ironically, they are the same 3 ways used to remove a Band-Aid.  (FYI, this will be another soul-baring post for which I should—and would—apologize, if I didn’t truly believe in its merit to resonate with other women with similar experiences. Feel free in your comments though to tell me otherwise . . .)

As far as adhesive bandages, most of us know the “one and done” rip it off (and all the hair with it) method. It hurts like f**king like hell! But, hey . . . it’s quick. The second technique is the sloooow, “bit by bit” bit, whereby you start scraping up an edge with a fingernail and then gently (my ass!) tug it off a little at a time. (This way is just stupid. Prolong the pain without the benefit of it at least being fast . . . why?) The last method is to soak it in water, dissolving the sticky stuff until the damn thing just floats off. You essentially trade time for painless. (Of course, afterwards there’s that gooey scab to contend with . . .)

As far as leaving a lover, the same basic methods apply. The rip it off technique is the “blindside.” In other words, party #1 has no idea anything is wrong until party #2 asks for a divorce, walks out, stops calling, disappears. Like with a Band-Aid, it’s quick. And for party #1 it hurts like hell! The “bit by bit” is the relationship filled with fights, arguments, abuse (emotional, physical, mental), cheating, betrayals of trust and all matter of issues and discord. Yeah, this one hurts too when it ends—but the parties do it to themselves, ‘cause both know it ain’t working. And then there’s the last method, the looooong slow death. Typically it’s a loss of attraction and/or compatibility. Neither party is really at fault. People grow apart, feelings change. These relationships were just always meant to be seasonal. They run their course. This is the marriage or relationship that dies “not with a bang, but a whimper.” (I’ve always loved the imagery of that line by T.S. Eliot.) Such was how my marriage ended. Truth be told, I felt blessed—to have been spared the hurt and confusion of the blindside—or the years of battling a relationship’s demons.

This is a metaphor, of course. And the problem with a metaphor is that it is a metaphor and not a mirror reflection. After all, no one ever asks the Band-aid how it prefers to be removed. Moreover, relationships aren’t Band-Aids. Depending on the type (casual dating, not casual dating or a committed partnership or marriage) it matters on what side of the sticky sh*t you are.

As far as leaving (i.e removing) a casual dating relationship, my preference is the rip it off method. (Note:  The one and done method only works when one is done.) Having removed myself from a marriage, I preferred the way mine dissolved—slowly, over time with little to no pain. Neither of us was caught off guard when it came time to call it quits. Others have not been as fortunate. In posts on Facebook support groups from women blindsided after decades of presumed good marriages, their pain is palpable. A case in point, a woman simply informed one day out of the blue by her spouse of 41 years that he was filing for divorce. Others write of having sacrificed all for their POS men. These women (who have maintained hearth and home and raised kids to the detriment of their own lives and careers) are upon discovery of infidelity now shell-shocked and lost. No better off are the ones who fought and struggled for years to make it work—and then are still unprepared for an unwanted reality . . .  Indeed I count myself as one of the lucky ones. I was financially and emotionally ready and prepared to leave and move on.

But now let’s talk about not casual dating relationships. In fact, let’s talk about a very specific type in that category of “not” casual—specifically the rebound—the first nc relationship entered into after a failed marriage or long term relationship. BTW, be prepared. When this one ends, it’s going to really hurt and it will take lots of time to recover from it. The reasons follow . . .

We all do it. When a serious, committed relationship falls apart or implodes or explodes, we build walls for the next time. We take precautions not to repeat the mistakes of the past. We are careful. We don’t open up, give trust—or our hearts—without long and careful deliberation. At least I didn’t. The first nc relationship I had after my divorce was one of cautious and reluctant entry. I only revealed small pieces of me. I kept my guard up and my expectations low. But as life and love would have it . . . yeah, I slowly opened the door. I let the f**ker in. Fool was I. Newsflash, ladies:  No one can hurt your heart from the outside.

Karma perhaps. After having been the leaver/remover, I’m now the left/removed, the recipient of the blindside. Textbook case, I didn’t have a clue—til it happened. And damn do I have questions! See, the crime of the blindside are the questions, beginning with why? My best guess is the rolling stone got scared and bolted. Yep. It hurts like hell, and I struggle—not to move on ‘cause I have no choice—but rather to let go. To explain, here’s another metaphor  . . . (sorry)

Like an apple, the loss of a love relationship has 3 layers. Outermost is the skin of what was. It’s what you miss—the fun, adventure, the experiences, memories and happiness of the relationship. Beneath, thicker and meatier, is the fruit itself—the dreams, plans, desires, hopes and promises—now never to be realized. This is what you grieve. The final layer is the core, the true seed of your despair. It’s what you fear—the “what was will never be again” depression. (At 60, I hear the clock ticking and quite honestly, I do fear sometimes I’ve banged my last bang.)

Do I actually miss him, the aforementioned f**ker? No. I don’t think so. I miss the hours we talked and laughed and made love. (Seriously, the man was great in bed! And I’m sixty—not dead.) More importantly, I miss the way he made me feel—alive, desired, beautiful, appreciated, valued. And I grieve the future we talked about—the promise of travel and companionship. Added to this stew of emotions is confusion and a slew of unanswered questions. Were there signs I missed? Did I do or say something? Did I misinterpret or—as he has accused me of doing—imagine the things he said? Ladies, you tell me. How does “Do you want to meet my daughter? She needs to know who you are . . .” not mean “You matter to me?”

When I was writing romance novels it was standard practice to write how a character “saw emotion” in another’s eyes. Fear, hope, love, doubt always “entered,” “rose,” darkened” or “shone” there. (Look for it the next you read a novel—I’ll bet you find it!) I always figured it was literary license—something writers made up—until I saw it for myself. I swear, I saw it in his eyes . . . one night at dinner. He was sitting across the table staring at me in silence.

“What?” I asked. I looked at him, uneasy under the intensity of his gaze. What I was reading was scaring me to sh*t! I had to be seeing wrong . . .

“Nothing,” he answered.

“No. Really. What?” I insisted.

He shook his head. “No. Not yet.” And then he looked away.

Well that did nothing to clear up the mud!

A moment later he looked back at me. “You impale me,” he said.

I tried to make light of it. “Sounds painful.” I laughed. Then, thinking maybe he’d used the wrong word, I offered an explanation. “Impale is to stab or skewer.” (He was/is blue collar to the core, yet I was often surprised at his intelligence and vocabulary. I once confessed to him my impression of him at our initial meeting: “Who knew a mechanic could be so layered?”)

He didn’t reply.

A while later, outside having a cigarette with his arm around me I decided to try to find out what he’d meant with his “impale” comment. “I like you more than I should,” I said as a gambit.

“Don’t be scared,” he said.

“I’m terrified,” I answered.

It was then he asked if I wanted to meet his daughter.

Okay. I may be out on one hell of a flimsy limb here . . . but I ask you, ladies . . . What freakin’ female on this effing planet wouldn’t think the guy was falling for her? FYI, the problem (as I later told him) with dating a writer is that I remember and journal everything! Therefore, when he blindsided me weeks later and ended the relationship—not by actually saying so, but by just disappearing—I was hurt. And I got pissed. And I called him on it–chapter and verse. He told me I was out of line and that he’s never given me any indication we were anything but friends. Really? So, I’m just another cray-cray bitch who imagined what you never said or did? God, I love it how asshole men want to blame the woman! Pssst! Dude, all she did was believe your sh*t! That doesn’t make her crazy—it does, however, mean she was stupid.

So now my walls are higher and thicker than before. I’ve bricked up that opening where the drawbridge was and I’ve added a few explosive charges for good measure (metaphorically speaking). It’s going to take a superman to break through. So while I’m wanting and waiting–and hearing one theme song in my head, life is cruelly singing a very different tune. Instead of “I Need a Hero” . . .  yep, you guessed it . .  I’m getting “Send in the Clowns” . . .

Let’s Talk About Sex

Before we do—talk about sex—I need to issue an advisory warning to my oldest:  Honey, if you’re out on another date and she wants to read another of your mother’s blog posts, you might want to skip this one. That said, let’s continue. To be honest, I did deliberate whether or not to do this post. Maybe some topics are more TMI than FYI? In the end, however, I decided “What the hell!” This blog was intended to be a forum for women starting over. Right, wrong, or indifferent, ladies—sex is a major step on that journey.

But first a bit of background . . . I belong to several closed groups on Facebook:  one for flight attendants, a ladies’ only venting group, a couple 40+ divorce and separation support groups and even a 50+ friendship circle I believe is in Australia. (Hello and thank you to my 77 Aussie viewers! BTW, I love your posts that show how our lives are so very different and yet so damn similar!)

In the beginning (and I’m only being honest), I was looking for readers for “sucks.” Anyone who has followed this blog from the beginning knows it was originally started to prove a point to the agents and editors who didn’t see a market for the book I wrote about online dating. I was convinced they were wrong. In my heart I knew there were thousands of women 40 and over, starting over, who would relate to WINK. But to my immense surprise, I soon realized it was I who related! No, not to every post and comment. Cheating husbands, contentious child custody battles, acrimonious assets distributions are subjects to which I personally (thankfully!) have no experience. But being lonely? Wondering if I will ever find love again and wishing it all could have been different . . . yeah. I’ve been there. I’m still there. Sometimes.

We women always have the tendency to think it’s just us. Knowing there are many, many others who feel exactly the same is a source of immeasurable comfort and strength. But in addition to finding women with like issues, doubts and emotions, I also found a wellspring of inspiration. Many topics discussed in these groups resonate so deeply, I am compelled to respond. This touchy (pun intended) subject “sex” is one such instance. A woman wrote and asked if anyone had had experience with sex after divorce. Toward the end, hers had been a sexless marriage. She’d lost all desire. Now, starting over, she’s fearful. “Does it come back?” she asked.

Talk about déjá vu!  Now comes the TMI part . . . It is no exaggeration that in the last 5 years of my marriage we had sex less than a dozen times. (The last year not at all.) Many issues were at play. I’d never been particularly into “it” during most of our marriage. (In defense of my “low” sex drive, I had 3 kids in 3 years—with no help from family or spouse. I was freakin’ exhausted!) Still, it was a subject we often argued over. Then, too, there was the matter of lubrication (mine) and a total lack thereof (early menopause?). The other factor was his increasing inability to get it up—and keep it up. Of course, he blamed me. Toward the end, it was not just unpleasant, being rubbed raw while he strove to do the deed, it was downright painful. In my year of resultant celibacy, I truly (as one woman said in her response to Ms. Fearful of the paragraph above) could not have cared less. It was the furthest thing from my mind. Since I’d never liked it all that much when I was in my 30s and 40s—what was to miss now that I was 57?

And then I met a man. In Zurich. Exotically handsome with long black hair and a beard. Especially in profile, he reminded me of a Spartan warrior from the movie 300. (Not much off the mark since he was Turkish).  And 38. (Yes, you read that right. It’s not a typo.) When he took me for a midnight swim in a moonlit Alpine lake and kissed me, it was the first time I’d been touched by a man other than the one I married in 37 years! I pulled back. Tempted, yes. But also terrified. I couldn’t wait to call my sister. “I don’t think it even works anymore,” I told her.  She laughed. “Yes. It does. You’ll see.” But I couldn’t. I couldn’t see myself with a man twenty years younger–because I could see what I saw in the mirror. The ravages of time are not kind to a 57-year-old woman who’d had and nursed three kids. In the end though it didn’t matter, and my sister was right. It did still work. Moreover, the desire I thought had died decades ago . . . hadn’t. (Ladies, repeat after me:  dormant is not dead.) I turned 58 in the Turk’s bed and continued to see him another seven months. Eventually the relationship ran its course, the 20 year age gap between us not so much a factor as was his desire to find a wife and have children. We parted friends.

The next couple years brought a couple casual encounters—but no return of diminished desire or capability. I still liked “it,” I just wasn’t so enamored with “them.” Then, the night of my 60th birthday, I met a man who proved the best was yet to come (pun intended).  Believe me. Had anyone told me at 40 that the best sex of my life would occur at 60, I would have called them bat sh*t crazy!  When I told him my ex used to call me a “desert,” his eyebrows shot up. “You?” He laughed. “That drought’s long over, babe.” Indeed, there’d been enough wet sheets and couch cushions over the previous 8 months to prove a serious point. One of them knew what the f**k he was doing. (TMI but FYI, Rug Doctor has upholstery attachments.)

Which brings me back to Ms. Fearful and her post. Over 50 women responded and/or commented. While a few did proclaim to have no desire or drive, most repeated experiences such as mine. The monotony of marriage, a lack of romance, absence of attraction and attention, hurt and blame, resentment and broken trust are dams. Depression, hormonal imbalances, the weight gain of stress, too. Is it any wonder the creek goes dry? Many of the comments rang so true I could have written them.

  • “All our insecurities critique us to the max,” said one woman.
  • “Don’t assume it’s you,” said another, “it’s not a low sex drive, it’s the wrong partner.”
  • “You might think it’s dead–until you meet someone you can’t get enough of.”
  • “Once you’re happy, what you thought was dead, will reawaken.”

I couldn’t agree more. When the right one comes along, what was dead, dormant or dry, will surge. In the meantime, it’s ok to be afraid or doubtful. Fear of the unknown—or at least the not known for a long time—is normal. Nor are emotional, mental and physical factors to be discounted. They do matter and they do effect—until they don’t.

Now as far as what “the right one is”  . . . well, that’s a matter of personal taste—and choice. Since Turkey was followed by Tunisia, Israel, Italy and French Canada I’ve had a bit of a United Nations theme going on, with a definite run of young—38, 37, 42 and 51—thrown in for good measure. Lest ye judge, I’m not alone. One woman offered that she had “cougared her ass off.”  Works for me. I just draw the line at younger than my oldest. See, honey, I TOLD you . . . you should have skipped this one!

Beware the Scammer

When I was online dating I learned rather quickly how to recognize a scam/con artist. Common sense, gut reaction and general knowledge enabled me to spot the fake profiles nearly immediately. Moreover, I expected them. In online dating they are as common as ticks on a mangy dog, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised when one popped up. Two weeks ago, however, I was startled–when I encountered the same breed of liar on Instagram. (And here I thought it was just a site for sharing pictures? Techno-idiot!)

Here’s a test, ladies. The actual, verbatim (nothing has been changed) text conversation I had with a guy who was following (and supposedly just liking) my photos of European destinations and the occasional picture tying in to a post on “sucks.” See if you can spot the red flags . . . BTW, my responses are the ones in italics.

Hi How’re you doing?

I’m sorry, do I know you?

Sorry hill, I was just browsing through when across your profile and I decided to contact you.

And you are?

I’m Michael Richard by name and am from United State, reside at Washington DC but am presently in Afghanistan with the United Nation (U.N.) Soldier. I’m an Orthopedic Surgeon.

Really?

Yes. (Insert red heart) What’s your profession and where do you reside?

I’m afraid your grammar doesn’t jive with your claim, Michael or whatever your name is. Nice try.

Pardon . . . What are you trying to say?

Let me spell it out for you . . . S…C…A…M

Good girl with nice spelling, so you can spell very well.

Goodbye

Alright then, have a good day.

Some additional details about “Michael Richard?” His profile picture is of a handsome dark-haired man wearing a red shirt. His Instagram photos number a total of two. One is another of “himself ”– or at least the same person, wearing a white lab coat that appears almost dingy in contrast to his sparkling WHITE teeth. He’s posed, dashingly holding the ends of a stethoscope hanging around his neck. The other photo is of a sculpture of a woman’s head. He has 18 followers and 193 following—everyone is female.

So . . . red flags? The spelling and grammar mistakes should have been your first clues. Scammers are often based overseas in foreign countries—Nigerian Prince scam, anyone? Yep. Gotta love that World Wide Web thing! For these scum, English is a second language. Ergo, such idiomatic errors as “by name” & “reside at.” Awkward and/or too formal phrasing and the absence of the “s” in pluralization, i.e. “United State” & “United Nation” were additional clues the person writing me is not the mom, apple pie and 4th of July patriotic all-American toothpaste ad doctor he claims to be. Context of the message is further proof. He provides a compelling bio—handsome doctor serving in a war zone, just lonely and reaching out. Ahhhh . . . what red-blooded American woman wouldn’t be touched—and flattered, right? WRONG! You’ll notice, as well, he addressed me as “hill.” Really? Either he has no clue that’s not a given name –or he didn’t care to ask or clarify. He wanted to know what I do and where I live. $$$$$$$$

I wrote several chapters in WINK (my humor memoir on online dating coming out in November) regarding dating site frauds, scams and cons. I also provided comprehensive lists of dos and do nots, common sense rules and safety tips. The need to educate yourselves is real, ladies! In 2014, in the US alone, romance scammers swindled over $86 M from their victims. And that was only from the 6000 who actually reported being scammed. Most experts agree women in the 50-70 age range are the most susceptible group to fall victim to an internet dating site scam or fraud. Let’s be real, we’re the ones more likely to be lonely and have $$$$$$.

I know, believe me. Attention from an attractive man is intoxicating. But like alcohol, that euphoria can dull good sense and elicit reckless behavior.  Before you start something you may later regret, remember these four anti-fraud rules:

  • Too good to be true is rarely true. If a soul-mate connection occurs fast—honey, it’s likely not fate—it’s fraud!!
  • Watch out for those slick, professional photos that look like magazine ads—they probably are.
  • If he’s traveling or residing out of the country  . . . Let’s just say I’ve got queen-size comforters smaller than THAT red flag!
  • Look for linguistic anomalies, vocab that is “off” and grammar that doesn’t fit his professed profession.

The FBI has a website to reports such scams. The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ics.gov . Use it.

Oh, and Michael Richard? He has a new photo posted—standing in a green field with a shirt and tie, his sports coat nattily hanging from a finger over his shoulder. Afghanistan, my ass! I reported his to Instagram.

 

Postscript: Michael Richard has a new photo on Instagram, a decade older photo in a dress naval uniform leaning over (visiting) a child in a hospital bed. I’ll admit, I’m a little confused now. I’m beginning to think this man is real enough–but someone has either stolen photos from his profile somewhere else, or hacked into his Instagram account. In the off chance I’m totally wrong, I offer an apology to M. R. I’m standing firm, however, in regard to my suspicions about his texts to me. Call me cynical . . . but if something online feels “off,” it usually is . . .

The Best of Venice

Ladies, if Venice isn’t on your bucket list, add it! Originally, I had planned to go with a guy I was seeing, an early 61st birthday present to myself. Yeah . . . well you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men . . . and women? But every great plan needs a good backup. Mine was girlfriend and fellow flight attendant Kathleen. So when I got dumped, she stepped in. And a romantic trip turned into a fabulous girls’ getaway. 20170911_071234This is a city of captivating beauty. No matter the weather–early morning fog, afternoon sun or evening rain showers–in every condition Venice enthralls. A city of inky waters, emerald canals and stormy seas . . .

With every corner turned, alley traversed or bridge crossed a picture postcard is revealed . . .

I was told Venice has 400 bridges. I’m pretty sure we crossed at least a quarter of them.

If there is any drawback to this city, it is the crowds. That is the problem with a magical place–everyone wants to experience it. A reported 24 million tourists a year tramp through this small ancient city. In 2017 alone, 529 cruise ships, towering monstrosities 10 or more decks high, will sail through the Giudecca Canal, a mere 1000 feet from St Mark’s. The environmentalist have been protesting them for years. But those 1.4 million passengers are a source of significant income to Venice. A double -edged sword . . . During peak season (late spring, early summer and late fall as far as the weather goes) streets are packed, lines are long and prices elevated. As one who abhors crowds, I convinced Kathleen to do an early EARLY morning. At 5:30 am we wandered St. Mark’s, the only living souls–save a few insomniac pigeons. Heaven! To be followed by a walk down the main promenade, equally deserted. We toasted our dawn adventure with cappuccinos and marmalade croissants hot out of the oven.

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A gloriously deserted Piazza San Marco (and me doing my best Victoria Beckham “fierce” pose).

 

The weather did not cooperate. In case you can’t tell from my hair, we had rain nearly every day. (BTW, Venetian red is definitely a color unto itself!)

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Look to the far right in the photo below and you’ll see a couple kids in plastic ponchos. Trust me. They were everywhere! Sherbet-colored trash bags with matching knee high galoshes for sale for 6-8 Euros. I wish I’d taken a picture! One Japanese tour group of twenty plus was identically clad in orange . . . a hell of a sight. Each afternoon St Mark’s Square flooded. I’m not certain if it was due to rain or high tide. But since our hotel was 50 meters from where I was standing in the photo above, bare-foot through ankle deep water was the only way to go . . .FullSizeR

The food, however, did not disappoint. In 3 days I ate pizza 4 times! But in my defense we DID walk 8-9 miles a day . . .

Chianti was the beverage of choice–until Kathleen introduced me to peach bellinis.

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Chianti!
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Bellini!

Speaking of, I highly recommend indulging some night around 8 or 9 pm. Wander over to St Mark’s. They have several areas of tables and chairs set up where groups of musicians alternate playing. I promise you’ll hear every Godfather and Andrea Bocelli song ever recorded. The €21 bellini are pricey, but the service is flawless with white-jacketed waiters attending to every whim. And how do you put a price on ambiance?

I would also recommend leaving the more popular and well-known places. I encourage you to get a map (laminated, in case it rains, plus it serves as a handy barrier between your ass and wet chairs). Wander where the locals go, deeper within the warrens of winding  alleys. Cross the Rialto and/or the Ponte dell’ Accademia. Not only will you find less tourists, but with each calle, ponte and campo, you’re sure to find a hidden gem for your camera and a better price for your wallet. (The same Murano glass wine stoppers going for 12-15€ each were found 3 for 10€.) BTW, Campo Santo Stefano (pictured below) is where I found this little cutie . . .

 

Speaking of cuties . . . meet Ricardo, Elton, Sergio and Franco (ages 21-49). And Charlie.

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I think I’m in love . . .

This was not the Venice cesspool I remember from my childhood and from college. Not one piece of garbage did I see floating in a single canal. The city is amazingly clean, considering those millions of tourists. Without a doubt, I will be back.

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Arrivederci, Venezia!

And here’s to hope, falling in love and bucket lists . . . ’cause Kathleen and I agreed . . .20170910_181544

Yep. We’re saving the gondola ride for when it’s NOT a girls’ getaway . . .