Saturday, May 29, 2010

You dropped the bomb on me, baby.

Yo yo yo! I'm back, and have I got news for you, buddy boy (and girl). You are not special! Did you hear me? You. Are. Not. Special. And the sooner you realize that, the easier relationships will be. What? Did I hear you ask "Why Sarah, isn't everyone special?" Well as a matter of fact no. No one is special. Not you. Not me. Not your mom. Not your daughter. Not your brother. Not even that guy at the office that makes you feel a little dizzy when he walks by. We are all pretty much the same. Remind yourself of this when you look in the mirror and you think to yourself, "Self - you look very attractive today! Way to hang in there with those jump squats!" Instead, think to yourself , "Self, you are average. Average. And there is nothing wrong with average. Deal with it or be miserable forever."

And this, my friends, was the gist of my last therapy session. I walked out of the door in tears. Hot, angry, confused, frustrated, embarrassed tears.

Okay, I'll back up some. First of all, let me apologize for being a stranger. I've been busy making love. I mean shopping. Which is, in fact, my unhealthy substitute for the horizontal cha-cha. Which, in further fact, means I've sort of been getting more @$$ than a toilet seat. At any rate, I have been busy spending my new home buyers credit and involving myself in home-improvement projects. I have discovered that Sarah is a very creative girl! Custom crystal chandelier anyone?

So I'm spending money, and simultaneously mulling over what went wrong with my flirting strategy. Was it me? My methods? Was I going to the right places at the wrong times? Are there really just no available men in plain sight? I think the answer is all and none of the above. And I was discussing these dating difficulties with my therapist on Friday. I wanted to make it clear that I didn't think that the reason I wasn't having any luck was based on a belief that I wasn't good looking enough. It happens to be my opinion that I am pretty attractive. The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my skin. I like who I see in the mirror. Yes, my teeth are crooked, my butt is flat and I have mama tummy, but I see more pretty things in the mirror than I do un-pretty things. And, as anyone who has known me for very long can attest, that is something!

Meanwhile, back on the couch, I am winding out my session. I think we were talking about the importance of me expanding my social circle with both male and female acquaintances. Then, I was asked "Sarah, what if you aren't 'incredibly good looking?' What if you are actually just normal like everybody else?" Say what? "But I didn't --" "Oh, yes, you did. You called yourself attractive, and it isn't the first time. You have set up a scale with you up here and everybody else down here." "But I didn't - I don't think of myself as being better looking than anybody, I just mean that I don't think I'm a troll!" This gave even more evidence of my self appreciation. Me and John Edwards -- two peas in a pod.

We then partook in a small scale debate on the definition of special. According to the doctor, I am not special. No one is, in fact. So I should accept that I am just a normal person with normal looks and a normal personality and let go of the delusion that I am this extraordinarily beautiful, unique, 'special' woman who deserves something more extraordinary than plain ol' average people. Then I scheduled another appointment, laid my money on the table and walked out of the room with an "I'm fine, I swear" half smile on my face.

Now, if some of the events in this story were untrue, if the doctor had not gone to the trouble of actually looking up the definition of special in not 1, but 2 dictionaries, to prove her point that no one is special, or more blessed with certain qualities than anyone else, then I would have taken this admonishment to reflect on the idea that even if I didn't think that I was pretty, it wouldn't mean that I didn't deserve good love. That even if I were dull and boring, I would still deserve good love. Everyone deserves love. But instead, I heard her say that I had a somewhat narcissistic attitude that probably came through in my conversations and interactions with those around me, and that it was probably quite a turn off. She really said that. That's why I heard it.

It didn't hurt that my doctor doesn't think I'm a stunner. It hurt that she took my candid confession that I was pretty happy with my looks, added it to the fact that I have trouble meeting men and putting myself into social situations, and came up with a diagnoses of delusions of grandeur and conceit. I just don't feel like that fits. Maybe I'm wrong. If I am, let me know and I won't fire my therapist.

Now, in what may be my have been my last session with my heretofore esteemed therapist, I did come away with two very good homework assignments: 1) no impulsive or indulgent spending this month -- only groceries and necessary toiletries; and 2) get back on the internet dating wagon and ride like the wind! I am taking both of these assignments seriously because I feel them. It's time for big changes and bold actions on both of these fronts. It's time to get what I want instead of wrecking my finances trying to fill a round hole with a square peg. Shut up.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Love's Slow Mosey: A Completely Fictional Tortoise Tail

Once upon a time, in a land very far from here, there lived a quirky, uniquely attractive, often contrary, and singularly single tortoise named Lola.  At 72, she was just entering her prime and possessed a genuine lust for life and the hope that, despite her several flaws, she would one day find the love that she had touched briefly, yet passionately, in the mysterious world of her dreams.

Love in Lola's dreams came complete with an intelligent and pampering paramour with a beautiful, yet rugged shell and strong, yet tender feet.  He could make her laugh, oh how he could make her laugh.  His wit and charm were his most gorgeous features.  He liked all of the things that man-tortoises were supposed to like, such as waxing his shell, drinking fermented berry juice, and playing fantasy shell ball.  Lola did not bother with tortoises that did not fit his description.  Her unwavering stance on this left her very lonely, extremely discouraged and more than a little exasperated.

Every day she planned how she would meet Mr. Dreamy.  She would often go "shell shopping," as she liked to call it.  Though it seemed to Lola to be an exercise in futility, it was an exercise she refused to relinquish. Each time she stepped out of her nest and headed for one of the many establishments purported to be heavily occupied by the male of her species, she did so with hope and anticipation that this would be the trip that would make all the others worth the effort.

But each trip was a cookie-cutter version of the last.  "Why are all the single tortoises so dopey and unworthy of my efforts?", she wondered.  If one turtle had a nice beak, he had wimpy feet. If he had nice feet, he could barely organize a complete sentence.  If he was intelligent and witty, he seemed to be in need of a 12 step program to deal with his apparent overuse of the food supply.

Why, oh why couldn't she find a man-tortoise who measured up to her specific, yet reasonable, standards?

On a particular Saturday in early spring, her sister Rose called to chat, as she did nearly every day.  But this call took a surprising turn.  Quite unexpectedly, Rose put Lola on the phone with Rose's old friend Burt.  Rose had been trying to arrange a date for Lola and Burt for a nearly a year, but something always seemed to come up, and frankly, Lola just wasn’t comfortable with the whole idea anyway.  In fact, this particular night, when Burt asked her out for coffee, Lola cringed just a little, dreading the awkward evening to come.  Don't get me wrong, she had always thought Burt to be handsome and sweet, but she was pretty sure he wasn't her type.

Much to Lola's surprise and delight, she enjoyed her short date with Burt and was happy when he asked her if they could meet again the very next day.  After their next get-together, to her great joy, she realized that his many unique interests were undeniably more attractive to her than the stereotypical prerequisites that only the day before she had held so dear.

Lola suddenly found herself spending an unsettling amount of her time thinking of Burt and their date.  To get him off of her mind, she began the task of cynically analyzing the likely outcome of the situation.  She made a mental list of their obvious incompatibilities and added to that all of the ways that she could end up looking like an ass (to tortoises, donkeys are thought to look rather foolish) if she allowed herself to crush on Burt only to find out that the attraction wasn't shared.

But Lola's large, steady, stubborn heart was dead set on staying the course.  Her logic and reason could not convince her that this trip into the unknown wasn't worth the risks.  Only time knows what became of Lola and Burt, but one thing is certain: Lola had found the courage to be vulnerable and, at least for a while, to bask in the exciting glow of life outside of her shell.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gimme a P! Gimme an A! Gimme a T! Forget it, this is taking too long.

Have you ever set your mind to something, publicly announced your intentions, planned out how you were going to achieve your goal, put your best foot forward and then found that it wasn't working out the way you had envisioned? No? Me neither. If you'll excuse me for a moment, it seems that my pants are on fire and I should see about putting them out.

Okay, I'm back. And yes, I am feeling a little dejected and doubtful about the success of this particular venture. I am really trying to be creative and resourceful in manufacturing opportunities to meet men, but where are the men?! I can be pretty darn tenacious when I want to be, but I am beginning to question my intestinal fortitude when it comes to finding a mate. Unrewarded anticipation is not quite my bag.

But alas, as my good friend John Quincy Adams once said, "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." Of course he was probably giving an impassioned speech before congress on the merits and worthwhile task of abolishing slavery in the face of much opposition. While that puts my life in perspective a little, I happen to liken myself unto a slave of sorts. A slave to loneliness trying to hop a train on the underground railroad to love.

Would you believe that right this very moment there is a really cute man in my house? No, I'm not referring to some tow-headed, bright-eyed toddler. A real man. He's hooking up my satellite tv service. I wonder how long I could keep him here under the ruse that I can't get the hang of the new remote. Maybe I could ask him to explain in detail how exactly the receivers pick up the satellite signal and whether he thinks we have secret spy satellites orbiting alongside the tv satellites. Then we can make tinfoil hats together.

I think his woman just called him.

Mr. Adams, I will not let this set back, or any other, keep me from the call of my mission.

God bless persistence, and God bless America!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vaccination, All I Ever Wanted

Howdy do!  I hope everyone is doing fine this Thursday evening.  This morning I was rather unsure how my day would play out, but it's been much more pleasant than I expected.  I can now head into my weekend feeling relaxed and happy. 

If I could shrink you and put you in my pocket all weekend, this is where you would go:


10:30 am - take the dog to the vet for the first time since I got her 2 years ago.  It was hard to admit to the girl who set our appointment that I had been so neglectful.  She said not to worry about it.  Boy was I glad to hear that!  I was afraid I was going to get some sort of animal activist punishment, like maybe a letter with pictures of neglected animals smeared in dog poop and hand delivered by Sarah McLaughlin.  The letter would be smeared in dog poop, not the animals, by the way.  I guess I misplaced my predicate or something.  Now, I'll bet you're thinking to yourself, "while this story is captivating, what does it have to do with bagging a man?"  Funny you should ask.  Remember the Dogtopia indoor playdate meetup group I joined?  Well we can't partake in any of the fun until Maggie has all of her shots.  Also, this fabulous weather has inspired me to try a visit to one of Raleigh's many dog parks.  (Oh, now I get it!  Vaccination, all I ever wanted.  Like the Go-Go's song Vacation, except she said vaccination 'cause she's taking her dog in for shots!  How clever.  Where does she come up with this stuff?)

12:00 pm - get my hair done.  I can't decide if I want to grow it out or keep it short.  I like it short, but I need a change.  I've been sporting this do for about a year now.  Maybe I could just do short a different way.  I'll look at some pictures online later.  Whatever I choose, it must be sexy.  Or at least super cute.  Ok, I'll settle for not butch.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)

2:00 pm - mother/daughter yoga workshop with my 14 year old.  I can't believe she's dragging me to something so lame!  Like, how totally embarrasing!  What?  Oh, that's right.  I'm the one dragging her.  Well, so what.  She's leaving me in 3 short years.  We need to bond a little.  I think it will be fun!

7:00 pm - now we're off to my friend Tanya's house.  Care for a little bitty cocktail?  Here we shall prepare for an evening out on the town.  This is my first time out since my divorce where there has been no mistaking that the mission for the evening is to talk to men.  None of this "I swear, I'm only out to have fun with my girl friends!  I am totally too secure and aloof to spend any time trying to get attention from boys."  Nope.  This time it's me and a couple of wing-nuts.  I mean wing-women.  There will be ring checks, accidental bumps, and no crossing of the arms, which I understand fom my studies is the universal sign for "back the &$*# off, buster, or you're liable to take one in the crotch."  And not in a good way.


2:00 am (actually 3:00 am - don't forget to spring forward this weekend!) - tumble into a cab and head back to Tanya's to sleep it off  recap our night out over a nice cup of tea.

8:00 am - yeah right.

11:00 am - do a little internet refresher on Their Eyes Were Watching God (can you believe the library didn't have it?)

1:30 pm - head off to my very first book club meeting.  It's at some Starbucks in Raleigh.  Ahh, there is nothing quite as satisfying as discussing classic literature while sipping on a breve with an extra shot of here goes nothing.  Maybe I should get an extra shot of positive thinking instead?

It's all downhill from there.  Every Sunday night I have to tell myself "at least I have my health" or "there are thousands of kids in China who would give anything for a Sunday night right now, so quit your bellyaching before I give you something to bellyache about."

So in conclusion, I encourage all of you to make the very most of your weekend.  Do whatever you want, just this one weekend.  Take lots of naps, eat an extra dessert, go for a run, catch a movie with your best friend, have one too many glasses of wine, whatever it is you want.  It's okay, I am giving you permission and I don't know if you know this, but I'm a pretty big deal.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Metaphorically Speaking

Okay, I admit it. I have had a lame week, at least as far as Club activities are concerned. On second thought, that might not be quite true. In this club, as I am its only member, I can't just show up for the party. I must also fill the roles of lead logistician and chief strategist. And today, as a result of my behind the scenes efforts, I officially went live with Operation Good Karma by attending my first Stand Up for Kids planning session.

I felt like a lioness on the prowl, keeping her senses on full alert for any sign of prey. Her ears twitching at the slightest rustling in the high savannah grass, a mere whisper to go unnoticed by the casual passer-by. But to her, the message is as big as the savannah itself -- "We actually have a lot more men, but they're probably all out playing basketball in this nice weather." Oh really? Now the lioness tenses her svelte musculature, unaware of her own power, and waits for confirmation; another rustle, a breath quietly exhaled, perhaps for the last time. And then it comes. "Outreach teams are generally in groups of two - one man and one woman." Fabulous. Her whiskers rise slightly into what might be called a smile, if lionesses could smile, and she thinks to herself, "Cougar, eat your heart out."

Oh, and I also volunteered my firm's conference room for outreach training. Upon approval, of course. Did I mention I'm a little impulsive?

Now that some of the heavy lifting has been done, I can get back to the lighter side of things. Tomorrow promises to be another beautiful day, perfect for a little power-flirting. I'm thinking a #1 with props, should a #2 opportunity present itself. A folder full of subliminal messages printed on plain white paper will do the trick.

Time for some beauty rest. Good night lads and lassies, and as always, feel free to talk back.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

That's Just Crazy Talk

I have written and deleted about five openers to this post so far. Why? Because they have all started out so negative!  For instance, I had a nice paragraph or so contemplating the possibility that all of Alice in Chains' songs were actually written by an unfulfilled, emotionally raw, single mom. That's not possible. Right?

Not to worry, tomorrow is therapy day! I'll be feasting on food for thought, and washing it down with tears I swore I wouldn't cry, come lunchtime. Then I'll pop in my Alice in Chains cd for the ride back to the office. It's all part of the healing process.

Okay, two really positive developments today as far as my romantical strategery is concerned. I have been invited by the organizers of Stand Up For Kids to attend a volunteer meeting this Sunday. I sat here for a minute after writing that sentence picturing how the meeting will be. Why does some Dave Matthews look-alike keep popping into the picture?  My psyche has apparantely concocted an image of the ideal "volunteer guy," scruffy, handsome, brilliant, compassionate and open for business. See you on Sunday, hot stuff.

Also, the chair of Empower, ME-3's publication, has invited me to an Empower work session on April 8th. I'll be given an article/topic assignment! I can't wait to sink my teeth into this. I even get to take pictures to publish with the article.

Okay, so I'm not down in a hole as much as I thought, but I do still want to snuff the rooster in my neighbor's back yard.

Thanks for listening. You've been a fantastic audience.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meetup or Shut Up

If I only had a day spa gift certificate for every time I've been told to "get out and do the things you like and then you're sure to meet someone who likes the same things as you!" (Looks like I'm not the only one reading Dating for Dummies, by the way.) But since I don't have a day spa gift certificate for every time I've heard it, it so happens that my time is freed up to give this sage advice the ol' college try.

Just tonight, I got dressed up and went with me and myself to a coffee shop I've never been to, armed with David Sedaris, my recently acquired lip gloss and a hip new black trench jacket (so cute - short, rain resistant, with a tie belt). I've never combined these things before into something I'd call a hobby or interest, but individually I enjoy them each. It's reaching. I know this. My interests include books, movies, art, diagnosing myself on the web, basically the same things everyone else likes; but parlaying these into match-making opportunities is easier said than done. Now I don't mean to say that there aren't groups I could join for people who like all of these things, but I am not convinced that they would be places to potentially make a love connection.

Knowing how cynical I am and how quickly I think I have it all summed up, I am willing to concede that I may be mistaken in my perceptions about interest groups, which makes it sound like I am trying to find a date among the oil and gas lobby. (Note to self: find out the demographic information of some local PACs.)  Where was I, oh yes. So because I might just be wrong, I went to to find some ways to "get out and do the things I like."

I chose three out of about a million meetup groups. My first pick was a book club that focuses on classic literature. I'm cynical, but I also believe in signs. The book they are meeting about next is Their Eyes Were Watching God. This is the book that opened my eyes to the world of classic literature. I could write a little essay right now about the virtues of this book, but I'll spare you except to say that if you haven't read it, read it. There seemed to be a nice ratio of women to men members of the group, but no indication of the single to off-the-market ratio. But at least I'll get to talk about the book.

The second group I chose is called the "I've always wanted to try that" group. They do all kinds of crazy stuff, from sky diving (no I won't be doing that) to paint ball (might be fun). I think this group, if I actually get into it, could be great for me. There are so very many things I've always wanted to do but never did because of my ridiculous timidity. Inside I am a mountain climbing, cliff diving, deep sea fishing, up the coast of Maine hiking wild woman.

The third group I joined is a once-a-month indoor doggy play-date group. This one doesn't need much explainin' but it looks really cool. It's free, too.

Each of these groups have events planned for March. I am going to attempt to make at least one event per group before March is over. I would also hereby like to challenge you to find yourself an interesting meetup group and step outside of your comfy lil' zone, too! Then we can swap stories. Deal?

Well kids, it's 3:00 am on Sunday morning. Must be a result of my coffee date with David, which by the way was fun but did not produce any interactions that could count toward my weekly exchange. Thank goodness for red shorts guy last Sunday. If it weren't for him, I would have already failed my challenge! Thanks, fella - wherever you are.