Days 16 Thru 18: Operation Eleanor - Jump, Try, Speak

On Jumping - Day 16

I was a gymnast back in the day. WAY BACK IN THE DAY. Like, when wheels were still not quite round, but getting there. Anyway, I loved the trampoline. In college, I even took a class where we learned a technique used to teach astronauts how to orient your body in space called Bio-Flight and we practiced on the trampoline. It wasn't until that class that I was finally able to master a back with a full twist.

Well, we are now the proud owners of a trampoline, albeit one that is 12 ft. diameter, so I doubt you'll find me doing a lot of back flips on there any time soon. It HAS been fun teaching the kids games we used to play on there when I was a gymnast and watching them assemble it and enjoy it. Getting up there and letting loose wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it might be and only required a few hours of heat and ice to recover. Totes worth it.

Jump

On Trying - Day 17

We ventured to a new restaurant for date night, something we are fairly religious about, party because we understand the importance of couple-time, but also because we really dig each other. We've been trying more places outside of our usuals comfort zone, which has been fun. We're always up for exploring, even in our own neighborhood. I tried a great gin cocktail with fresh egg white (don't worry, I lived) and we had fun chatting with the owner as we ate appetizers from the bar menu. Might keep the name of the place a secret for a bit longer, though. With the Christmas Shopping Season upon us, I'm not sure I want to crowd downtown any more than is necessary. It's nice to have a corner that's still got a parking space!

Date night. #bettertogether

On Speaking - Day 18

If you see something happening that isn't right, speak up. Let somebody know who can get that child help. If the situation at Penn State has taught us nothing else, let it be this lesson. Children depend on adults to protect them. Make sure you are that kind of adult. Listen when children speak. Teach your children that they are entitled to say no. Teach them that you will get help for them or anybody else who needs it. Teach them that abusers do not look like monsters even though they behave like them. Teach them that concern for a friend is a valid concern. Listen. Listen. Listen. Understand that sometimes the help needed isn't for abuse, but other needs, and that you will still be the person they can come to. Listen. Listen. Listen. Teach them how to speak to a trusted adult (you, a teacher, a school counselor) and let them know it is not their job to shoulder a friend's needs when they require the intervention of a professional. Teach them how to get the right people involved. Be the right people. It is not the job of a child to determine whether a friend is telling the truth, nor is it our job, it IS our job to get that child help. It IS our job to make sure that child feels heard.

There have been two pieces written about the abuse case at Penn State which I feel compelled to share. It would behoove my readers to read them both, in my opinion, and since this is my virtual soapbox, that's what I offer here: my opinion. As somebody who lives with a Penn State alum, this has been a heavily discussed topic in our home.

The Brutal Truth About Penn State: The problem can't be solved by prayer or piety — and it's far more widespread than we think by Charles P. Pierce

The Cruel Lesson of Penn State: How what happened at Penn State forced me to confront my own abuse. by Mark P. McKenna

I have written about it elsewhere, but this is the first time I've discussed it here. If you have been dismissing this story in the news because you think it's about football, I challenge you to read these two pieces. Child abuse is not about football. It is relevant to our world. If you think the silencing of victims doesn't happen across the board in this culture, you are also wrong. Let's learn from what happened at Penn State. Let's make it matter in a positive way. And, if you haven't done so already, consider donating to an organization that helps in areas of prevention, education, and treatment: RAINN: Rape Abuse & Incest National Network. To date, the grassroots effort by Penn State alum has raised over $430,000 for RAINN in the wake of these events. Their goal is $500,000.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I Have Learned

Unless asked, don't tell your significant other what to wear. This person is, presumably, an adult. Get over your issues (yes, they're YOUR issues) with image.

Life is too short to worry about how the dishwasher is loaded. If somebody has been kind enough to load the dishwasher, say thank you.

Giving other people ultimatums rarely ends well. Same thing goes for pointing out a laundry-list of their faults. Ultimately, the only person you can fix/control/change is you. Start there and magical things will happen. The other person might still be the same, but you'll probably be a lot happier. Check the mirror, fix yourself, and move on. So. Much. Easier.

That's all the wisdom I've got for today, kids. Need to go conquer some Operation Eleanor fears and help my man build a bed.

Online Dating: Some Tips

It's no secret my boyfriend and I met through Match.com. While I didn't go on a lot of dates through online sites, I looked at a metric fuckton of profiles. The boyfriend DID do his share of dating through those sites. And, between the two of us and a few of our friends who've done the same, we would like to share our collective experience with you to help you get the most out of your online dating experience.

PICTURES:

Make sure the reader can see your face, including your smile and your hair. If you're a dude and all of your shots include you wearing a hat, you're hiding your bald head. Own your bald head. And your fucked up teeth. Smile for the camera.

Use a photo that's larger than a thumbnail. Most of the folks on these sites are over the age of 25 and need to be able to see what you look like. Use a full-size photo.

IMG_0025 too small for humans to see

Don't post pictures of yourself with people of the opposite gender unless you specify that it's your uncle, brother, dad, child, or ex, in which case, THAT'S JUST WEIRD.

Post recent photos, and try to stick to photos of you with relatively the same hair color or style so the viewer isn't confused about whether or not all of the photos are actually you.

high school

The glory days shots are nice, but we're all older and fatter. Get over it.

Skip the shots of your cat. Oh, and the one of the side of K2 where we can't see anything but the speck you claim is you, but we can't actually tell, and quite frankly don't care.

Skip the pictures where you obviously crop out or blur out your ex. If you can't find somebody with a camera to take your picture, get a tripod or use your phone. A couple of Myspace-esque shots are far better than that tasteless option.

blurry

We see what you did there. Buy a camera.

Include a full-body shot that's FLATTERING. I don't care if you're 350lb, you can find a shot that doesn't make you look like you hate yourself.

Post pictures showing your personality. Don't just talk about who you are in your profile, show it in your photos.

personality

For example, I like puppets.

Don't be afraid to look sexy, assuming you like the sex. Both genders will be drawn in by a sexy photo or two, but don't go overboard. If you're showing a lot of cleavage, you can probably skip the Daisy Dukes. Boys, that goes for you, too.

IMG_2908

This is TOO MUCH SEXY. Rein it in.

PROFILE:

Everybody thinks they have a great sense of humor. Seriously. Find me a person who will admit they don't. Skip stating the obvious.

Tell the reader something unique, something the don't expect to read, something they haven't read in EVERY OTHER PROFILE.

Better yet, show, don't tell. If you have a great sense of humor, because YOU ALL DO, be funny when you write. Be witty. If you have a sarcastic streak, let it show in your writing. If you're a nerd, romantic, a sports enthusiast, show it in your writing by sharing that side of yourself. BE WHO YOU ARE.

If you aren't honest in your profile, you aren't going to have an honest relationship with the people you meet.

Don't tell them you like to cook, tell them WHAT you like to cook, how you cook, where you learned to cook, what inspires you to cook. Would you cook for your date? Do you like cooking together with somebody? Post a picture of yourself cooking.

You like spending time with your family? Really? Do you have any pictures? What do you like to do with them? Give us some details. Do you have an annual family reunion where Uncle Fred makes a mean batch of sangria and you all have a 3-legged race and tell stories around a bonfire until the sun comes up? Hell if I know, it's your family.

What I do know is that EVERYBODY KAYAKS. EVERYBODY CAMPS. EVERYBODY GOES TO BURNING MAN. Well, in the Bay Area, anyway.

For the love of all the is HOLY and spell-checkable, look for typos and grammatical errors in your profile before you post that shit. If you suck at doing that for yourself, have a friend or family member help you.

Set yourself apart.

And say something about WHAT YOU WANT. For fuck's sake, you're on a dating site looking for somebody to date, possibly more. I would hope you have some idea about what you do and don't want. Tell people. This is your chance. Get that list of demands out there. Want a guy with a pulse and a penis? Say that. Looking for something more? You better make that known, or trust me, that's all that will show up in your inbox. Dicktures a plenty.

This leads to the next important section.

DON'T RELY ON ALGORITHMS:

Don't expect the site you're signed up with to do all of the work. You need to do some of it, too. What matches on paper might not match in person. Give it the ol' manual flip-through once in a while. Pour yourself a big glass of chianti and start looking at all of those profiles you wouldn't normally give a second glance. There might be a gem in there.

Do a search for your competition. Are you posting a similar number of pictures? Are you presenting a unique profile that will set you apart, yet still be true to who you are?

Don't do the same exact search every time you look. Broaden your horizons. Be willing to date widows/widowers (we can be younger than you think) or people who don't state an income. Maybe they don't want to deal with gold diggers. Now, I wouldn't suggest dating people who camp, but that's just me. You might be willing to make that kind of concession. It's about knowing your boundaries and limitations.

Now get out there and get on it, kids.

 

Duplicates

I wonder if it's possible to find true love based on the number of duplicate possessions a coupling produces. Think about it. Match.com is missing out on a huge opportunity here.

Even if what the two of you have is a set of redundant toilet augers, that's gotta mean something. Right? I know it means something in our case. Well, our toilet augers aren't identical, but come on. Toilet augers? How many chicks do you know with a toilet auger? I take my plumbing very seriously. In fact, I take a lot of tools very seriously. It's an area where the boyfriend and I have some much-appreciated and coveted duplicates. 

Other duplicates are more indicative of how well-suited we are for one another. From our DVDs to our KitchenAid Mixers, you can tell a lot about how we align in different areas. And it's not just about our interests, but about our values, how we think, the way we research our purchases, sense of humor, musical tastes, position on hair removal (WHAT?), how we spend our free time, the way we grew up, what our priorities are (hair removal, for example), and the breadth of our knowledge about topics that might not interest other people.

So, I'm telling you, dating sites are really missing out here. They should be playing a game of "how many duplicate items do you have between you" instead of those boring categories that get filled out with the same crap by every person. I don't know how many times I stuck a fork in my eye after reading about another guy who was into kayaking, camping, and traveling to Europe. And just how much wine can you taste? I'll tell you all about my wine interests while we grind some metal in the garage. That sounds like way more fun. Then we can compare socket sets or obscure plumbing tools.

(Ladies and Gents on the dating circuit, feel free to pimp this idea as a conversation starter for your Match/eHarmony/OKCupid trawling emails. I promise you it will weed out the duds and might result in some modicum of success, especially if you get the match rate up there. Anybody who cares to develop a DSS based on this theory should make a killing.)

Counting Sleeps: Just One Left

I'm on a bridge. #CHSHImage by califmom via Flickr

And then he'll be home from his trip. And I'm home from mine. It feels like forever, even with FaceTime, and Skype, and phone calls, and texting, and email, and I know it's incredibly crazy, but we can't seem to get enough of each other. Hours pass and it feels like minutes.

We are goofy in love, and we cannot wait until we're standing on the same continent again. Just one more sleep for me and seventeen hours of travel for him.

Not that we're counting.

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From Dicktures In My Inbox To Build-A-Bear: A Love Story

Just San FranciscoImage by califmom via Flickr

Oh, online dating. You collossal cluster-fuck of crazy.

So. Many. Dick. Pics.

DO NOT LEAD off your first texting coversation with a woman you've just met on dating site with a picture of your cock. Just don't. I'm not sure whom that's working for out there, but it didn't work for you, Mr. Hockey Puck. So, pop that bad boy back in your track pants because I do not want it "balls deep." Thanks so much for offering.

Now, I'm not opposed to a good-natured shot of a dick in a fez to cheer me up on a sullen day. That's just good use of the male member and an Adobe product, in my opinion. But, it's not going to make my panties drop.

I'm not quite sure when this trend of sending the dicktures kicked in, but it needs to kick out. Because all of those guys, they didn't win a spot in my heart. Sure, they might have had pieces of the Build-a-Bear I was looking for, but no way were they going to make the final cut.

So, I kept looking. Certainly there was going to be somebody with all of the pieces to the puzzle. All of the Build-a-Bear parts.

I tried OKCupid. Oh, Lord. I nearly slit my wrists. Free is not a good feature in a dating site. After answering questions like: "How do you feel about taking it up the butt while 5 people are watching?" and "Do you eat happy soy?" I would then be matched up with guys who looked like my dad, but not in that great of shape. I wanted to send them back a list of people I'd been able to date without their "help" with a note attached that said, "are you fucking kidding me?"

I shut that shit down. I couldn't take it. Back to my own devices. Back to finding pieces of the Bear, but not my Build-a-Bear. I dated some great guys. Don't get me wrong. Lovely, all of them, in their own ways. Just not THE guy. Not THE one.

I got bored one night and signed up for Match.com. Cue the cliche. I'd get emailed my Daily 5 matches and wonder, again, what kind of algorithm these people used to come up with these mismatched men who'd show up in my inbox—Ed Hardy t-shirt Guy; Never Leaves San Francisco Guy; Kayaking/Mountain Climbing/Camping Guy.

Seriously? Camping? I love NOT camping. Is nobody paying attention over there at Match?

So, I decide to use the site like my personal database and do the legwork myself. I'd grab a cocktail and dig. I'd send out an email here and there if a guy looked interesting. Most would reply. Some were worth talking to, some weren't.

Then, I came across this guy with this hair. And this fake porn 'stache. And his profile didn't have a single kayaking shot. He didn't mention a single trip to Europe or how he'd met the Dalai Llama. There's not a sign of camping anywhere. From his profile, I could tell he didn't take himself too seriously. He'd worked Charlie Sheen and Justin Bieber into there in a way that made me want to know more, so I emailed him about his hair. (It's awesome hair. You should see it.)

By the time we'd exchanged a couple of emails, we had digressed into a place of pet names, inside jokes, and dark humor that had me so hooked I didn't know how I was going to last until our date on Friday.

There were phone calls that ended up lasting until the early morning, like teenagers used to do before texting and IMing, back when you had to stretch the cord across the hallway to sneak the phone into your bedroom so your parents wouldn't catch you. (Shut up. Phones used to have cords!) You all remember my love of phone? Yeah, didn't matter. I couldn't get enough of his voice. Just gross, I know. I'll get you a bucket in a minute.

The date that should have happened on a Friday? It didn't. Well, it did. It just started a day early and lasted something like four or five days that ran all into one pile of awesome because we found out that while there may not be a cosmos, but there is a reason for things, and this thing, whatever it is, it is amazing, and we can't get enough of it. I tried to eat a bowl of it for breakfast, actually.

He talks, and I stare into his eyes, and hang on his words, and love his stories, and want them to go on forever. He makes me laugh so hard I will never need to do crunches. I made him laugh so hard he had to wipe the snot off his face. I'm pretty sure that means he loves me. It's in the Jersey Bible.

We have tripped, and fallen, head-over-heels, and neither one of us plan to get up any time soon. It just feels too good down here.

The last time I fell this hard and this fast it lasted twenty-one years. I don't even think I need to knock on wood. I can't believe I get to do this again. I am the luckiest girl in the world. I found my Build-a-Bear.

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Widows Make Better Lovers: Living In The Moment

Mama's First LouboutinsImage by califmom via Flickr

A group of young widow friends and I were chatting on Twitter last night about widows making better lovers because we live in the moment due to our experiences. The group of us agreed that having watched our loved ones pass suddenly or, in my case, not too suddenly, but at such a young age, makes you appreciate life and love in a different way—with abandon, even.

All I know about myself is that I no longer put off the joyful experiences for another day. I eat the foods I crave. I travel to the places I want to see. I meet the people I want to meet. I drink wine in the bathtub, when the mood strikes. I dance like EVERYBODY is watching, because I love it. I'll ask for what I want, but I don't like repeating myself. And I share my life with people who are smart, funny, interesting, healthy, functional, people. Things that don't fit that mold, don't fit in my life. It's too potentially short of a ride to live it any other way.

Does that mean I don't look toward the future? No. I do. Does it mean I'm not reflective? No. I am. I just don't live in those places.

In practicality, in means that I will almost always accept an invitation to spend time with someone over doing laundry. Okay, I will ALWAYS accept that invitation. Let's be honest.

Um, better example: the good bottle of wine isn't saved for special occasions, it's for now. Other things that shouldn't be saved for special occasions: blow jobs, high heels, sexy underwear that matches your bra, pedicures, bubble baths, sunsets, eating breakfast in bed, sleeping naked, naps, morning sex, midday sex, all-day sex, driving down the coast in a convertible, sushi, kissing your lover on the neck from behind for no reason, watching dumb movies just because they're dumb, kissing in the rain, making-out like you did when you were in high school...for so long you think you just can't take it any longer, but you feel like you might melt at the same time, kissing her hip, her ankle, his wrist, holding hands while you drive.

Those things. Don't save those. You might not get to do them tomorrow.

 

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