‘Scuse Me, Are You The Lady With Some Honesty?

A week ago I received a message from a guy on OKCupid who seemed pretty sane. What I mean by this is that he typed complete sentences that included all of the proper punctuation, he didn’t call me “sweetie,” “honey,” “dear,” or “beautiful,” and he didn’t simply say “Hi.” He did tell me right off the bat that I had a lot of negatives in my profile (as in, “Don’t send me dick pics”) so it was hard for him to get a true sense of my personality.

I wrote him back and thanked him for contacting me. I told him that I wrote my profile in that manner because in the past, it never mattered what I wrote – every guy who contacted me wanted to get right down to showing me his penis, so I had to immediately make my personal boundaries known.

I also told him that I wasn’t really in top form for dating for the time being; my time and attitude are both being consumed by medical stuff and I am not the best company right now. His response was, “Hey, I understand on both fronts – it’s gotta be pretty frustrating to be a woman on this site and fighting off all the trash, and if you have stuff going on that is too much to deal with, I won’t take it personally if I don’t hear from you again.”

I wrote back and said, “Hey, thanks for understanding! I don’t want to be one of your “stories” because of the stuff I have going on, so I think it’s best if I take a time out right now.” So…crickets. He’s being a gentleman and taking no to mean no at face value, which I appreciate to no end. It’s times like these when I really, really feel cheated about the body I currently dwell in.

From another guy an hour ago: “Hello! I love the profile. Very Intelligent way to let people know you are a no-nonsense, straight forward woman, who know what she wants. And I like that.” However, he’s a holy-rollin’ Christian and I’m not at all attracted to him physically, so I’m going to have to thank him and turn him down gently. I’m going to stay on hiatus for now.

And I just saw someone from the town where my mom’s business is located. There’s only 1,000 people in that town on a good day, about 80 miles from here, and I can’t figure out if I know him…I’m afraid to click on his profile. I guarantee you he’s a Trump humper and we’d have nothing in common anyway, but it creeps me out that I’m back to being in the same state as the place that I ran away from two decades ago and I’m going to keep running into people I know exactly in the same manner.

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How Nice, She Included A Map

I’m officially clinically depressed.

I don’t know who was the first to diagnose me. It doesn’t really matter. You would be depressed too if you had worked your way through 54 doctors and none of them could tell you what was causing your severe physical issues, a good number of them misdiagnosed you, somewhere around 10 said it was psychosomatic, and around 49 of them told you to go away and don’t come back.

I’ve got anxiety too.

I can’t talk about a lot of the CSF stuff without becoming emotional. I also don’t sleep the night before appointments. Who wouldn’t react the same under these circumstances?

At some point, whether it was my counselor or one of my medical doctors or the actual medical insurance, someone determined that I should get help from a county organization that offers comprehensive help with mental health. Fine. I’m doing meditation, and I’m trying to be social while also trying not to wear my body out, and I’m trying to watch videos of babies and cats and dogs to keep my spirits up, but fine, if this is a resource that I can benefit from, then sign me up. But I told them that I still need a hospital bed so I can try to avoid bedsores, and I still need a neurologist and a neurosurgeon that won’t turn me away and who will listen to me.

So this past Monday the 19th I had my initial intake appointment, and two women from this organization come to my apartment to discuss the program and sign forms with me. I signed a release form for them to talk to my counselor, with whom they are very familiar, and they also went through various questions, one of which was, “Do you have a religious preference or religious beliefs?” I emphatically said, “No, thank you!” They smiled and nodded, and we didn’t go into more detail, but it was clear that I have zero interest in religion.

So imagine my surprise when I pull this anonymous letter out of my mailbox this afternoon:
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At first, I thought one of my friends (or even a frienemy) was having a laugh at me, especially since religion has been a hot topic in light of the stabbings and shooting this last Saturday. I wracked my brain; I thought there was a possibility it was the crazy German woman who was always telling me she was better than me and in addition, she was a good Christian; I fleetingly wondered if it was a relative of the ex or maybe a recent new acquaintance who contacted a friend for my address to send me this information about this can’t-miss fire and brimstone. The envelope wasn’t much help because it didn’t have a name on the return address, but I looked up the numerical portion anyway…

Bingo.

It’s from one of the two people who sat on my couch on Monday morning. They both heard me firmly say “No, thank you,” and both smiled and nodded. When I talked to them about my medical history and both were absolutely dismayed at the number of surgeries I had, my inability to still get a diagnosis, the swiftness with which I am sent away, the sheer number of doctors I have seen, my accuracy in my communication to my doctors and their refusal to “hear” me…let me say that last part again: THEIR REFUSAL TO HEAR ME. They said that they would collaborate with my counselor and also have an RN visit my apartment so that my physical and emotional needs could be addressed, and they would also review my medical records so that they would be worded more accurately for my disability case.

They saw me become emotional when I said that doctors were ignoring me when I told them exactly what was wrong with me and it would prolong my agony and pain, sometimes for years, when they ignored me; I was never wrong. They said again, “Your biggest challenge is that doctors don’t hear you.” Yes!

So why didn’t they HEAR me when I said “No, thank you” to religion?

There is a certain arrogance that comes with religion; if you practice religion, why is it assumed you are better or your life is better than if you don’t? If one person is religious and the other person isn’t and there is some debate about whether or not a ritual like going to church is practiced, why is the assumption that the ritual is the obvious choice and that the religious person should be made happy? Why can’t it be the other way around? Pray on your own time. God is everywhere, right? Why do you have to go to church to put money in the pastor’s wallet?

I got this letter after business hours so I have been left to my own imagination to compose letters, and most of them ended with an emphatic “Fuck you.” Most importantly, this organization is a county organization, and no where does it state that I must follow a certain religion in order to receive services. That was one of the first things I looked for, because if I would have known that that was a requirement to be in the program, I would have told them not to bother before making the appointment.

So now, just three days into the program, I have to file a complaint with the Clinical Director.

If I do compose a letter, it’s going to include the fact that I have traveled around the U.S. and have moved across the U.S. four times, and have used up two passports, and since I’m a 42-year-old woman who has lived a fairly adventurous life, I know what options are available to me as far as belief systems go. “Have you considered science?” I think I’ll end my letter with that.

Don’t Ever Think ‘Equality’ Is A Dirty Word

We need women (and MEN) from all walks of life, from all occupations, from all age groups, to get on the bandwagon with the idea that equality is worth it. Already my nephews, aged 10 and 6, have started reciting the ugly words, “Boys are smarter than girls.” They certainly didn’t learn that from me or their parents. Now our work is even harder with trying to turn that thought process around (if it is even a process – because they are more parrots at that age than scholars).

I want all girls and boys to grow up to appreciate differences while embracing each other for their value as human beings first.

I want women to receive equal pay for equal work.

I want men to stop claiming all space as their own, including women’s bodies.

I want women to be supportive, rather than see each other as competition to be beat.

But in addition to that:

I want people who are labeled “disabled” to be out in the work force (if they are able) and have a social life filled with inclusion, and to be portrayed correctly in advertising, TV and movies.

I want “inspiration porn” to end.

I want the freedom to practice – or NOT practice – any and every religion of my choosing.

I want churches to start paying taxes.

I want people of ALL races to be valued, truly, but I want privilege to be acknowledged and then driven to extinction.

I want our actions to match our words.

I want choices, whether it’s the company I keep, the job that pays the bills, the food I put in my body, the chemicals I keep away from my dwelling and the doctors I see. The more we work towards total inclusion, the better our lives will feel, period.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jennifer-lawrence-feminism-equal-pay_us_56d08bfee4b03260bf769e58?

Me and Alan

This is just a tough week. My health stuff has been forcing me to push everything else aside – because as some of you know, you only have enough energy for one thing each day, and that is if you are lucky.

I had to go into the surgeon’s office today like I have done every single day since last Tuesday to get my wound checked and repacked. I’m actually a “super healer” and for that reason also very rare. My body immediately goes to town on closing up wounds and building scar tissue – collagen – so it’s yelling last call and shutting the doors before all of the riff raff has exited. The downfall to that is that my body trapped bacteria in its rush to seal everything, which is why the doc had to make hamburger out of my ass. This is also the reason why, when my body figures out that it can’t physically break every shunt, it resorts to clogging and strangling the drainage catheter. I don’t make keloids. However, I have a huge wad of scar tissue on the right side of my brain left over from the cisternoperitoneal shunts I had implanted there. If I press on that side of the skull, I move the whole mass and it’s very uncomfortable, as if I am moving strings that are attached on the inside of my scalp that reach down into my brain.

While I was getting ready to go to show my ass yet again, I was catching up on the news, and so saw the announcement that Alan Rickman died from cancer at 69. Like Bowie, he was another Brit with loads of talent, adopted and adored by us fickle Americans across the pond. This seemed like another abrupt loss that we didn’t see coming – I mean, some people shouldn’t ever die, right?

Like a lot of people in the U.S., my big intro to this man was the role of Hans Gruber in “Die Hard.” He was such a good badass. I didn’t want him to be killed off. I wanted him to return for every installment of that franchise.

About seven years later while I was living in Albuquerque, my roommate introduced me to “Truly, Madly, Deeply” via a VHS tape she had in her vast movie collection. It was a role that allowed me to see past his villainous past and embrace his gentler side, and roll around in his deep voice like a dog rejoicing in sunshine and grass. If God actually existed and had pipes, I do believe that we would hear Alan Rickman speaking.

In 2003, I moved to Arizona without knowing a single person, without having a place to live and without having a job. (Things were really different back then, kids!) A few weeks after I landed, “Love Actually” was released to the theaters for the Christmas holiday. I didn’t have anyone to go with, so for the first time in my life I went to a movie by myself. I’m glad I did – I liked the movie enough to buy, which rarely happens. But Alan was part of the ensemble cast. He played well the role of a man who was befuddled by the temptation placed in front of him and who ultimately could not rise above.

I know this makes me an oddball (judging by just how popular the Harry Potter series has been), but I could never get into the Harry Potter movies. So many people are mourning the loss of Professor Snape; I will instead choose to remember Hans, Jamie and Harry.

Showing Up is Half the Battle

Update: This morning, November 23rd, he sent me a text message saying that he was sorry because he fell asleep, and then he went to church and turned off his phone. He offered to show me the logs “where it proved he was in church.” I told him that all he had to do was text or call and tell me it wasn’t going to work out, not wait two days, and that it was time to live an authentic life and stop making excuses. Seriously, I am so done raising men.

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Yesterday was a good day for me, health-wise. I had vertigo and fatigue but not a facial droop. I thought I was undeniably lucky – because a friend from the past had offered to pick me up and take me out to karaoke, and rather than having my face paralyze by the time we arrived, there was a good chance that I would be able to be upright for a few hours.

He and I had talked about my limitations and what to expect to happen, which is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. All week he was telling me how excited he was to see me after all of this time. Then he started talking about how it has been a long time (in the neighborhood of 15 months) since he had dated, or been close to someone physically. Because we are so different on the religious front, I warned him that we wouldn’t be a good match because church is such a big portion of his life and I am 1,000% a non-believer.

I texted him Saturday afternoon to find out what time he was picking me up so I could plan accordingly. He told me that he would be by at 6 pm. Then he started texting that he was nervous about his teeth – he knows that I like it when men take care of their choppers. (I didn’t tell him that it’s because I had had boyfriends who had let their teeth rot and it was horrible kissing them.) I told him I knew it was expensive to get them fixed and that I was aware that he was making an effort, I just didn’t want him to have to get dentures in a few years at such a young age. I also told him that I had my own insecurities, but we should both try to work through them and enjoy our time out and catching up.

At 6 pm, he didn’t show – but he sent a text saying it had been a hell of a day and his roommates were fighting. At 7:30 he was still a no-show, so I texted him to ask if he was still on his way over or if we needed to figure out a different day.

Crickets. Nothing. Absolutely nothing, not even this morning.

There weren’t any stabbings or shootings in his area. I know this because I checked. With this in mind, there is no great mystery surrounding why he is still single. He has my cell phone number, my email and for Pete’s sake, my street address. I’m really struggling to find a place in my heart that will allow him the benefit of the doubt if he does come back to me, sniveling about something or other happening that prevented him from telling me what the deal was. It’s the kind of behavior that I would expect from a stranger but not at all what I want in a friend.

And if I sometimes sound bitter or disillusioned through the course of all of these blog posts, it’s because I am. Nearly every man in my life has let me down, with rare some exceptions. But rather than allowing this particular night of waiting needlessly to get my blood pressure up, I’m calm, as if he has never existed in the first place. As the daughter of an alcoholic, disassociation comes easily to me. But men should know that every time they do something like this, they break women’s hearts, even if it’s just a tiny bit; it all adds up.

While writing these few paragraphs, one of my favorite Anberlin songs came up on my streaming music. I’m sad they broke up in 2014 because I’ll never have the chance to see them live, but thank goodness for the permanency of YouTube.

The Dog Days of Dating

I’ve got two accounts going, one on OKCupid and one on Match. After making one acquaintance and laughing about my crazy exchanges, it really drove home the fact that I am likely expecting too much from one and too little from the other (Match is supposedly where the more serious people go to look for love). So I changed the first line of my OKCupid profile to say, “I’m not looking for a hookup.” I also removed some items and added some more to dumb it down. For instance, my introductory paragraph has bullet points and includes, “I’m a feminist. This includes the concept that no means no” and “I don’t believe in organized religion.” Further down for the section that starts with, “I spend a lot of time thinking about” I finished it with “equality, healthcare, social justice, cats and dogs and why I can’t have them, and how much I want pizza.” Lastly, in the section that begins with, “You should message me if” I entered “- You are a non-smoker (of all things); – You really are single, not looking for a third in your threesome or looking for someone “discreet” so you can cheat on your wife. C’mon, it’s NOT complicated – you just wanna catch you some strange, let’s call it what it is; – We live in the same country. Please, no penis pictures. Seriously.”

So the first message I get after my revisions is from a guy with one photo where he looks like a total mouth breather, 34:
Him: How are you doing today? I would love to talk with you more. You are very beautiful by the way 🙂
Me: Hi, thanks. What would you like to chat about? What style of literature do you normally read?
Him: I read all sorts of books. What are you doing today?
Me: Today is laundry. If you are going to say “Let’s do something,” I have to warn you – I can only be upright for about 30 minutes, tops. We could probably do a high five on the sidewalk. 🙂
Him: Why only upright for 30 min?
Me: Super rare brain disease.
Him: Well we could have fun lying down? Lol
Me: Nope, not looking for a hookup. That was just a line about wanting to chat, huh?
Him: Why no sex
Me: Am I just here on this earth to fulfill every man’s fantasy and whim? No. You want to stick your dick in me without treating me like a fellow human being with value. I’m not interested. After that he blocked me. I am just going to assume it’s because he’s trying to stop himself from making the same stupid mistake again because he won’t remember soliciting me for exactly the same thing I specifically said I didn’t want.

Man, 50, lives 80 miles away:
Him: you want to take me out to lunch your treat
Me: Aerosmith, “Dream On.” It’s my song gift to you.
I blocked him. I didn’t have the energy to educate him on how to score.

Man, 39, local:
Him: Wow…..you are absolutely gorgeouz!! I wish I was your type.
Me: Thanks. So why aren’t you my type? Would you be mean to me, or try to send me inappropriate pictures? Or rub your cats in my face and send me into anaphylactic shock? (He has a couple.)
Him: None of the above…I’d actually treat u like a queen….but I’m sure my cats would cause an issue……hence..not ur type??
Me: Yeah – I looooove cats (and dogs), but have to take four meds and only hang out for two hours, tops. Maybe in my next life I can have pets. 😦 So best wishes to you in your search!
Him: Well….I could always,come over…undress and.hang out. No cat then. 🙂
Me: Would it surprise you to know that’s not the first time I’ve heard that offer?
Him: No….but I’m sure I’m not gonna be the first you say yes to though…
Me: Well, that got weird.
Him: Lol….how so?
Me: It’s never fun to be on the receiving end of implied sluttery.
Him: Oh…no…I was implying the opposite my dear. That you have yet to accept an offer…
Although I’d dig being the first….
After 8 hours:
Guess not
I didn’t bother responding. How would you respond if he acted the exact same way he claimed he wasn’t acting? It boggles the mind.

Kid, 26, 80 miles away:
Him: Hi you’re sexy
(I’m marginally impressed that he knows the proper usage of “you’re” but not enough to reply)

Man, 48, local:
Him (obvious copy and paste without reading anything about me): I am a single father, a bit shy at first. New to the dating scene. I actually look forward to just meeting and getting to know someone, I want that someone to enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. I do not like to play games, I like honest and sincere people Have a blessed Day…
Me: Hi, honesty and sincerity are great. Is your work winding down for the winter, or do you stay busy with projects?
Him: am off work for Now … How Are you doing ? would you like to txt me .. i don’t get don’t the site that much ….. what’s your name Beautiful
Me (cringing at being called “Beautiful” – not at all sincere – and the “blessed day” already rubbed me wrong): I’ve had a few stalkers, not comfortable with immediately giving out my cell.
Him: I understand How you feel … i can see you real an honest and open minded woman … and that what i want in my woman … what do you like doing sweet woman
With only 45% of our answers being marginally close and 70% flat-out enemies, I am going to let him pass me by.

Then I got a message from a man, 30, and in the U.K., and I immediately went on high alert:
Him: hello how are you today?
Me: I’m okay, how are you?
Him: im doing well thank you
just back home from work
i ve had a long day
Me: Ah, you’re working late!
Him: a little bit but have u seen that im living in england and im just having a trip soon to MN and lookining for friends and maybe more….
Me (really, really frustrated at this point): Ah. I’m not open to a hookup or a long distance romance. I’ve got a lot going on with my health right now.
Him: what are u looking for in here ?
Me: I’m looking for a long term relationship. What about you?
Him: im same really just its not easy o meet the right one
After this, I decided to put away my baseball bat before I smashed my computer to bits and give him a chance. We actually had decent conversation and it seems like he is sincere, but obviously I don’t know him at all, so I’m still on guard.

Man, 38, Philadelphia:
Him: hi how r u
Me: I’m fine.
Him: Don’t let the distance fool u I get to fly for free
Me: So, whose photo are you using for this site?
Crickets. I did a reverse Google image search and found that he had downloaded some photos from a bodybuilder’s site who was in the UK competing at the same time we were chatting.

Lastly, I got a message from someone that I knew 24 years ago. My gut reaction was to say “CRAP!!!!” because I’ve never lived in a city long enough to have my past come back to me like that. Now that I’m back in my old stomping grounds, I have to reconcile concepts like my family being fully aware of my dating life, and for previously-known people to find me again. I asked this guy about what his experience has been on OKCupid, and he said he’s had bad luck. I commiserated with him and told him that a lot of guys were just approaching me for sex, and he said he was getting the same thing from the ladies. (Really???? Man, I have a hard time believing that. I mean there’s always going to be the ones who have been married for 20 years and want some action, but I don’t think that’s all of us. Maybe I’m naiive.) He told me that not all men were just looking for sex. I then reminded him that he messaged me out of the blue about 2 years ago on Facebook to tell me that he was horny after we hadn’t talked for 20 years. His reaction was, “Oh, sorry about that – I must have been a little drunk.”

The quest continues!

 

 

Why I Don’t Pray

On Twitter, amid the hundreds and hundreds of posts flying around on my feed last night, one stuck in my mind, and it still galls me. It said something to the effect of, “Even if you aren’t religious, you can still offer prayers in support of Paris.”

I didn’t want to get in a war of words (or 140 characters or less) with a stranger, especially when there are bigger, badder things to be worried about. However, it’s enough of an issue with me that I would like to point some things out.

First of all, prayer is an integral part of religion. Any religion. If I’m not religious, that means that I don’t believe in religion, and therefore I don’t believe in prayer.

Second, religion is based on arrogance. Let me qualify that statement by explaining that every person thinks the religion they follow is the “right” religion, and believes that every other religion is the “wrong” religion. The monotheistic religions we hear about the most – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – are only a portion of what peoples’ belief systems are based upon. There are something in the neighborhood of 4,200 religions being practiced today. Which one is right?

Third, religions are created by humans. I’m sure you’ve heard of people saying they are going to “create their own religion” or “start their own church.” This is how all belief systems are born. Each faction comes up with its own rules and rituals. Think about Scientology: It was created by a former Navy guy who wrote science fiction. I mean, c’mon – what the hell is a “space opera” anyway??

Fourth, religions rely on mystery and lack of education. Leaders are always touted as knowing more than the rest of the followers. They are always revered for being more “blessed” than everyone else too. This is how religions continue to thrive. Think about the infamous Warren Jeffs and his “flock” – they all believe that he is some sort of prophet, and they hang on his every word. None of the kids growing up in the group know how to read or write properly and have memorized church elders as their only education. Obviously this is a famous group often singled out for its cult-ish behaviors. Pull back a little and look at all of the religions with the same eyes, and realize that leaders and organizers rely on the followers not questioning anything, or if they do, always circling back to the idea that the leaders know best. With all of the scientific discoveries we have made in the past century, how can anyone still believe in a virgin birth?

Fifth, believers tend to assign human characteristics to the objects they worship. For example, all of us have heard, “God will be angry” or “God will be sad” if we do certain things. Says who? We do. That’s right, humans.

Sixth, non-believers are not amoral. I don’t steal, I don’t cheat, I don’t kill other people or intentionally harm other creatures. I live a pretty upstanding life, and that is without following one or two particular religions and relying on them to be my conscience. Here’s something interesting: In some areas of South America, before Christianity was introduced, there was less crime because everyone lived under the same code and worked together to make a harmonious community. It was truly shameful to steal or kill. After Christianity, crime became more prevalent – because they started believing that “God would forgive them.”

Seventh and last, what has prayer done for me? People offer to pray for me all of the time, and I thank them because it makes them feel better. I’ve been signed up for continuous prayer circles, many times, with or without my knowledge or consent. But this is what it boils down to: If I get better, then it was “God’s will.” If I don’t get better, I either didn’t believe hard enough, didn’t pray enough, or it was “God’s will.” With either outcome I have no hand in whether I get better or not. Honestly, I think that the idea of praying has allowed people to become lazy. They can post on Facebook or Twitter that they’re praying for the people in France, or for praying for starving children in third world countries, or for gun violence to end, but then they don’t actually do anything. They think it’s enough to say that they’re praying and it magically elevates them to being better people.

Do I believe in God? That topic is best saved for another time.