Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Blog Header

I have to say I'm just tickled pink about my new blog header picture. Sure it's a little large, but I don't see the point in cropping it. I encourage everyone who hasn't done it already to run to your "Layout" section of your blog and start putting up header pictures.

Hooray for!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rant: No Dating Life for Me

I haven't been dating at all. It's been a long time. Lately, I've been wondering why I've been treated like crap or why the guy is all excited about me during the first date, but loses interest in me after that.

I'm beginning to think there are several things going on:

1) There are a lot of jerks around and they're all available. Folks have said this has something to do with living in SF/Bay Area, but I'm not sure if that's true. Folks have also said it's because I'm too old, not "hot" enough, too fat. A couple of years ago I would have said that was true, but no more because it seems even young beautiful women are also being treated like crap. And they are also having a difficult time finding someone even if they are dating more than me. I had a conversation with a beautiful young woman who used to work in my office who is actively dating. She is sweet, smart and on track for a great career and yet she explained to me that guys take her out once and then dump her (and no, she's not having sex with them). One even explained that she just wasn't "hot" enough. And I'll spell this next part out instead of resorting to the usual acronym which I think is lame anyway: WHAT THE FUCK is up with that???!! I was flabbergasted when she told me that story.

2) All the good men are taken particularly the ones in my age bracket. I think this is mostly true now. I used to think that was just a cliche, but it's not, people. All good guys around my age are already in long term relationships. The ones left over are either commitment phobes and/or have baggage worthy of bringing a plane down.

3) Many men around my age group have absolutely no interest in forming a serious relationship. They date sometimes but mostly so they can have sex, or less often for companionship. They don't completely rule out a relationship but they're not going to consider it unless the "girl" is spectacular. She really has to be "The One" for these men to put forth any kind of effort. Anything less is just there to warm the pillow. What does this mean for me? It means the guy is looking for that elusive quality of genius supermodel with seven figure earning salary. I have none of those qualities.

4) Somewhat related to number three is the idea that my therapist suggested and that is that when a guy decides he likes me he realizes that I'm not just there for fun, but for a serious relationship and this can be intimidating. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but it can't hurt to include it on this list anyway.

5) The odds are lousy. As I tell my good friends, who are also having the same problems with dating, you only need one good man. I still believe that's true, but I don't see the point in looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. The odds are that I will be very disappointed if I try to meet another guy. And, if the recent past is any indication, the odds are pretty high that he will turn out to be mean, inconsiderate asshole which seems to be happening more and more.

6) Being kind and loving are code words for "fuck me over!!" I'm a good person, I'm a nice person and I enjoy treating men well, but if you are kind and generous they see you as nothing more than a chump, someone to take advantage of. Oh and God forbid if you fall in love and tell them that. As soon as that happens you're off to the Gulag Archipelago of love, baby. Love is supposed to be the strongest force in the Universe, but the fact that I might love a man only means that I am weak and stupid in his eyes.

I'm never going to find someone who will love me, be excited to be with me, who will want to talk to me and see me, who I can explore the world and life with. I don't even remember what it's like to have a man love me like that. It's just as well.

What does this all mean? No dating life for me. I know I sound bitter, but it's the way things are. This is what happens when you spend over five years looking for a relationship and keep striking out over and over. I didn't start out this bitter, but feeling this way is inevitable when no one wants you unless they can get a nut off or when they tell you they want to focus on pursuing a serious relationship with someone else. Do I sound angry? You bet I do. I'm post nuclear pissed off in an apocalyptic dating world.

p.s. for all of you who might be concerned about this post, i'll just say this is my blog and i'll damn well rant on it if i want to.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

San Francisco Summer

My lovely City is known for its cold summers. For example, today is July 27, 2008 and it is now 61 degrees. There's a little wind rattling the inferior windows of my apartment and when I look out my little window towards the Pacific Ocean there's nothing but fog and the vague outline of houses and the pink church a few blocks down.

Yesterday I was in San Jose, my hometown about 50 miles south of here, and it was about 88 degrees there. I grew up in that town and was used to the warm to hot summers there. I've been here in San Francisco now for over five years and have become very acclimated to our cooler, foggy temperatures. When the temperature climbs to over the mid-80s I find myself longing for our infamous fog.

Tourists are often shocked when they come here in the summer. Even when cautioned about our weather they still can't bring themselves to believe it really is that cold here. Tourists are easy to spot with their shorts and hastily bought sweatshirts that say "San Francisco" on them or "Alcatraz."

It's true that some days in the summer can be warm and beautiful here, even hot, but let's be clear that it's only a few days where that happens. Our "summer" which we call "indian summer" comes in the fall. During that time the weather is usually spectacular: warm, but not too warm and oh so mild.

We who live here waste no time getting out of doors when the weather is nice. You can find us in Golden Gate Park, out and about in neighborhoods, and on the beach wandering around in sun dresses and flip flops. As the song goes, there's nothing like a warm San Francisco night. The City takes on a magical quality enhanced by the billions of people out on the street.

Although weather enhancement does well for encouraging the entrancing qualities of the City to come out, I find it beautiful no matter what the weather. And no matter how people moan about how cold it is here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Change and Habit

My swimming instructor is teaching me to breath on the left side. My current habit now is to turn my head to the right with each stroke of my right arm. This is causing my neck to stiffen and isn't efficient in the water.

So now I'm learning to swim three strokes (one, two, three, turn head to the right to breath-then one, two, three, turn head to the left). As I struggle with this new habit I'm sucking down water, I'm sinking and gasping for breath, my neck is bothering me and I can barely swim 200 yards as I flail around in the water trying to get my body in alignment.

I feel like a baby. And yet my turning my head to the right with every right arm stroke is just a habit, something I learned to do. And that means that I can learn to do something else to replace that habit as long as I practice it.

My swimming instructor's philosophy: "If people are willing to change and to practice that change, then people are capable of anything." I realized the simple, awesome truth of this statement. Annoying habits are just that, habits. This means they can be changed with practice. I couldn't swim at all as of last November, but now I can swim 400 yards without stopping. This is not a miracle. This did not happen overnight. It was hard work and training, but mostly it was all about breaking everything down into manageable pieces, learning them and practice, practice, practice.

It's not easy, but it's very doable.

If I can swim, I can do damn near anything including learning to breath on the left side. I'm wondering what other "good" and "fun" habits I can cultivate now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't Eat the Apples

"This is a nice place, Miss Turtle."

I mumble something. Mr. Gryphon is right, of course, but I am looking around the impossibly lush garden we have the good fortune to be in. I look to and fro. The warm breeze and sparkling air are so perfect that I pause from my searching and take a deep breath.

"Is this your new garden?" I cannot ignore him any longer.

"No, sir. This is Paradise, a walled garden located in Eden. Judging by the good weather the Fall of Man has not yet occurred." Our attention is caught by a lion leisurely walking by. Mr. Gryphon's claws start to extend, but I stop him by putting my hand on his arm. "He won't hurt us. He can't. Everything is in harmony here."

Sure enough a small rabbit crosses his path. The two beautiful animals greet each other by touching noses before moving on. I decide to follow the lion a little ways behind. He pays no mind. The garden opens up before us. I feel it in my bones. A longing and an aching in my heart. Tears come to my eyes, but don't spill.

"Feel that, Mr. Gryphon?" My voice sounds a little watery.

"No, but I see you are affected," he says. He is watching me closely as we walk along the thick carpet of grass.

"It is the eternal longing, Mr. Gryphon. All of mankind longs to return home regardless of your religious beliefs. That's what this place is home of the soul." I sniffle. He pats my hand and I give him a grateful hug. It's good to be with my trusty friend once more. We walk on.

The garden opens up into a little glen and I feel my breath catch for in front of us are two spectacular trees. One is huge and is laden with apples. They are brighter than jewels and so overwhelming I can't take my eyes off them. I just want to stare and stare. The tree next to it is also laden with fruit, but not as showy. It is handsome and it glows with a quiet majesty*. I know what trees they are and I long to eat, but I don't move. An apple, I think. I've already fallen, I tell myself. What would happen if I had one now?

Just as I'm considering finding out the answer to my question Mr. Gryphon gently draws me back into the bushes. "Someone is coming," he says close to my right ear. We both crouch down and watch.

An ornament-like snake rolling gracefully along enters the glen on the far left side. Its colors shift and shine. Behind him a stunning young blond woman follows.

"That's Eve," I whisper, "Looks like we're in Book IX of Milton's book." The snake slides gracefully up the tree and begins to talk to Eve. They are so far away that we can't hear them.

"Snake there, 'the subtlest beast in the field,' is possessed by Satan so he can tempt Eve into eating the apples."

"What's wrong with eating apples?" Mr. Gryphon has had to sit down so he won't be visible.

"They are from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God has told them they can do what they like here except they can never eat from that tree or 'ye will surely die.' Eve eats the apple anyway and Man Falls and becomes mortal. It's a long, drawn out affair. I'd rather not watch it all, if you don't mind."

"We can do whatever you like, Miss Turtle."

"I am happy to see Snake, though. Surely Satan in this story is one of the greatest, most fascinating characters in literature. Milton was pretty far up there even if he wrote the whole thing in verse. I used to think it would be the greatest story I'll ever read, but I think it's number two*. We'll see."

We move slowly away from the glen leaving Eve and Snake to talk. "Better get our stroll in now before the weather changes. That should happen pretty quickly." We walk back the way we came. Birds are singing in the trees. "By tomorrow Paradise will be empty with nothing but the glorious plants, and the Cherubim who will be guarding it," I say.

"Did you know that gryphons were considered one of the origins for Cherubim?" he says.

"I had no idea!"

"This might hint at my former life, Miss Turtle, a subject you and I have never discussed."

"I'm intrigued. I didn't know you had a former life. I would not have guessed." The flowers are heavily fragrant, a rabble of butterflies float by on the sweet gentle breeze. The sun and the blue sky I glimpse as I look up look as though they were made for only Mr. Gryphon and me. I want to ask him more about his former life, but I decide to wait and enjoy this place for now. The garden and earth as it is now will change and Man will begin his real adventure once he leaves this perfect place.

"It's not a bad thing, Falling, no matter what they say. I'm sure of it," I look up at my good friend and we smile at each other. We continue through the garden slowly and easily. We walk under a cherry tree. The flowers are floating down on us like soft snow. Some are caught in my hair. Mr. Gryphon gently brushes them off. He hands me a small, perfect pink blossom.

"A souvenir for you, Miss Turtle."

"I don't think we can take that with us."

"It's all right. Trust me." I thank him and slip the flower into my pocket. "It will remain perfect forever," he says. I look at him more closely. The earth and grass smell green and warm. I wonder if he was an angel in his former life.

"That would make me a guardian, eh, Miss Turtle?" he says, reading my mind as he sometimes does.

"I suppose so. It makes sense. Odd how things are coming together like this."

"Odd indeed." We speak no more. The earth, sky and universe gives a great groan for the Fall has just happened." We will only have a little more time before the weather changes.


This past Saturday I finally finished reading "Paradise Lost" by John Milton. His tale of Man's Fall is wonderful, poignant and hopeful. A beautiful story. I highly recommend it even if isn't an easy read. It was published 1674 and language takes some getting used to as does reading in verse. At least you don't have to worry about translation.

*the Tree of Life.
**my humble opinion is "The Epic of Gilgamesh" will take the top spot, but I still haven't read an actual translated version of it.