Saturday, October 29, 2011


Perhaps Evil Reunion Friend was right. Perhaps it was for the best that things didn't work out with the Man I Met. And maybe money was the reason. But, not for the insidious, shallow reason she so eloquently stated:

"No man would want to date you if you don't have any money."

Or something to that effect.

Money indeed might be the reason, but not because he wouldn't want to date me, a good man would see me for who I am, but because I wouldn't feel right not being able to contribute to a date. Or, to an eventual weekend escape. (Which I could so desperately use right now.) And let's face it; part of the testing of an eventual relationship is how well the two travel together. I am barely making ends meet as it is, and there's not a lot left over at the end of the month, so any getaway plans are nixed until I get a raise, modify my home loan, or win the lottery, whichever comes first.  Plus, there's talk of at least four and maybe more unpaid furlough days, so yet a third consecutive year of a pay cut only adds to the financial stress.

And this also leads me to another reflection. Over the years I was with my ex, we drifted from the gay community. We had been part of a club, but when we bought the house, it soon ate most of our time and money, so we drifted away. And we didn't maintain any relationships with the members. So, I had no gay male friends until recently. But, even hanging with friends takes money. Movies, coffee at Starbucks (or Denny's), even free or low cost outings require fuel; all of which take money.

Lately, time has also been an issue for me. I am getting used to a new way of teaching along with a brand new program which is leaving me with more work to bring home than I am used to, and therefore robbing me of time with my dogs and cat, let alone just for myself (when the ex has them) and then to bring a boyfriend into this equation would definitely be an emotional overload just waiting to happen. As any scientist knows, if there are too many independent variables in the experiment, the results are unpredictable. And right now, I am not happy with my teaching, but I can't say what it is; the new way, the new program, or a combination of both. Or, the fact that I am used to teaching mostly high achieving gifted kids and now have a general classroom of all levels and am having difficulties breaking material down to it's smallest components for those who need it. (See, too many variables.)  I was so exhausted and frustrated this week, I actually came home this week and calculated my projected retirement date. If I win the lottery, only two more years; if not, then I will have a bit longer to go. But, as I need my job, and need to adjust my style and method of teaching, the boyfriend would probably not work out, unless he was super-understanding.

And, I'm not even going to talk about post-divorce intimacy issues. (There's a whole other blog in there somewhere. But, as I have discovered I have some underage readers, it may be a while before that one is written and published!)

In reflection, without money and time to devote to a boyfriend, I think it's best the Bear go into hibernation for a while, during which he can recuperate, recover and regroup. And when his "winter" is over, I will emerge a better person for it. And then we'll see what the Universe has in store for me. Yet, the Ferret will remain alert for changes in and from the Universe, the Sparrow will focus on survival and sing his song of self-worth, while the Dolphin will remember to balance the worlds of intellect v. emotion and work v. play.

The photo is of a reflecting pool at one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. It's in Beverly Hills, actually. Greystone Mansion is a public park and has been used in several movies and television shows. Maybe it will be my escape sometime this weekend as it is very quiet and peaceful which is good for more reflecting.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crossing Lines

I was intrigued by the lines in this photo; the combination of the tiles below and the shadows of the pergola above. I took this photo to help explain to my class that lines are everywhere, and to help illustrate the concepts of intersecting, parallel and perpendicular lines.

And this brings me to my focus this week. Crossing lines, and in particular those lines we don't see, but maybe walk each day; the lines between friends or family members.

I had a recent conversation with a friend about that fine line we walk with friends; when to intervene in their life and rescue them from a fate worse than death, or worse, a bad relationship.

She believed it was fine to intervene when she first became aware of the friend's problem, so I challenged her. If her mother or a friend were to point out some 'concerns' regarding a guy she wanted to see, would she listen? She had to confess, no. And she would probably resent the intrusion and/or the individual.

I must also address the age difference here. I have a little bit more life experience than she does. Just a year, or two, or twenty-some-plus. I also have had experience with addicts.

My first partner had several friends who used drugs recreationally, and he did as well though on a more limited scale, both in frequency and type. He only smoked pot occasionally while the others also did cocaine and who knows what else. I had lived a sheltered life and this was my first experience with such behavior. My therapist at the time recommended Al-Anon and I attended several meetings. I learned that the old adage is true, you can lead a horse to water, but can't make him (or her) drink. The addict must realize he or she has a problem and make the conscious decision to seek help on his or her own. And I learned you are ultimately responsible only for yourself.

I contend this also applies to other aspects of a friend's life, including romance. We must see the faults in the ones we choose to date on our own. How else will we decide what we can and cannot live with? 

And I wish to add one more observation. As we continue on our respective journeys, the lessons in our lives are for us to discover on our own. I am the type of person who best learns alone. Pointing out to me what you see as my lesson won't do me any good as I need to experience it firsthand. It won't do our friendship any good, either; for most likely, I will see you as interfering or crossing a line with me, while you may think you have my best interests in mind. And there the conflict begins.

Another valuable lesson I once learned, "Expectations are planned disappointments." I expect my friends to sit by the side while I am on my journey. Some of them will want to jump in and point things out to me, believing they are helping me. But, in reality, they are not. They are only adding a distraction, and ultimately a disappointment in our relationship, creating tension. If I am lost or confused, I expect to be able to then ask my friends for advice, and am willing to hear what they have to say, but only when asked which, admittedly, is not an easy thing to do. But, please, don't disappoint me; allow me to learn my lessons by myself.

It is never easy for a friend to sit idly by, while someone they love is in pain. Ask any parent whose child is suffering, or anybody who has watched a loved one succumb to a terminal illness. I clearly recall the helplessness I felt as my first partner was ravaged by HIV until his death. I also recall the pain in the Al-Anon members whose loved ones were struggling with their addiction, whether they found help in AA or not.  The addict must hit bottom and seek help on his/her own for the help to be meaningful.  So, it is imperative to remain silent. Crossing that line could cause irreparable harm to the friendship. And bridges, once burned, are never as strong as the original.

"Don't give your advice before you are called upon."
~Desiderius Erasmus.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Last Meditation

"You are walking down a path toward a cabin. The cabin has three doors, one in the front, one on the right and one on the rear. Each opens into its own room in the cabin. You choose one door to open, and inside represents a path for your life. There is no mistake, the choice is simply yours to make."

Sunday was the last of my meditation sessions. The leader was asked for the second time to discontinue the group due to a variety of reasons. And this time there was no bargaining room for her. It had to end. We meditated on closure, which is actually only just letting go for me; of hurt, of disappointment, of anger; all in preparation of moving on.  

I open the front door of the cabin. 

I see myself sitting at a table, working on lesson plans, grading papers, focusing on my teaching.

I take it, my inner heart is telling me to focus on my teaching for now and let the rest of my life just be.

Sounds like a plan.

I will miss the sessions; they gave me focus, a place to safely explore new emotions, to ask questions about my new single life, to dive into my inner heart to seek what I truly wanted for myself uncensored by my Aquarian logic, to have a chance to get out of my head and into my heart.

I will miss the people who prompted me, who gently pushed me into seeing what they saw in me, and gave me a chance to share what I saw in them.

I will miss the leader who challenged me to go into my heart and guided me to see what I truly wanted and believed I was worthy of having.

It was here I first knew of "The Man Across the Bridge." It was also here I acknowledged I had met him, crossed that bridge, and now continue my journey. Nowhere in this blog did I ever mention The Man represented a long term relationship.  I, too, believed that is what he represented. But, no. He merely represented a relationship. And there will be other relationships, other bridges to cross.

It was also here I opened "The Box" and discovered I already possessed all the tools I needed to continue my journey. I just need to remind myself.

Things happen for a reason and at the time they are supposed to happen. So, I'm just going to sit for a while and watch what does happen. And when I am ready, or the Universe prompts me, I will get going. But, for now, I need a breather.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Déjà Vu

So, here I am again at the beginning of a school year in an emotional turmoil.  I began the 2010-2011 school year getting used to the idea my husband wanted a divorce and I would be alone for a while.

I am beginning the 2011-2012 school year getting over what I was beginning to think might be a potential relationship with a wonderful man.

So, I am essentially in the same place I was a year ago.

But am I?

Yes, and no.

Yes, I am disappointed and hurt.  Disappointed and hurt that what I thought could be a deep, new relationship with a great guy did not turn out the way I was hoping. And I'm working to let go of some some very deep feelings, deeper than I have felt in a very long time.

And no, I am a stronger person today for having survived the year between when my ex announced he wanted out and now when the new man told me he didn't love me, but just as a friend. And I will continue to grow stronger while on my journey.

Yes, it will take me some time to move on from this newest heartache.

No, I'm not escaping, but hibernating, recuperating, regenerating.

Yes, I'm tired of hearing all the cliches, "Time heals all wounds", "Everything happens for a reason at the time it's supposed to", "You'll get through this one, too."

 No, I'm not really, because as tired as they are,  they are indeed true. Time will heal this wound; it happened at this time for a reason, and I'll get through this. And move on. Again.

And yet, it feels different. Different in that I hadn't checked out of the relationship like I had my marriage; different in that I was caught off guard by my feelings for him; different in that it was at the beginning stages; different in that it was new for me.

So, the bear must hibernate a while; the sparrow will continue to sing his song; the dolphin will navigate the worlds between head and heart, work and play; and the phoenix will gather strength, for life will move onwards and upwards. Eventually.

And the ferret will be alert for a sign from the Universe......

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

With Friends Like This.....

I recently had the (mis)fortune of running into an old (!) friend. We had worked together at my school for a few years before she moved on, and then on, and then on. She couldn't stay still in one site for too long. She was the proverbial rolling stone gathering no moss.

In the beginning of our relationship she was very supportive of me, because we met as I was coming out. She encouraged me to be myself and to hell with what the world thought. This was in the mid 80s and gay rights were still coming along, and prejudices were still common, but progress was being made, albeit slowly.  She encouraged me to date a variety of men (after all, she did and a couple at the same time) in order to find out what I wanted in a partner.

After she left my school, we lost contact for a while, which was a good  thing, as I had come to realize it was a one sided friendship, of sorts. I believe in equality and fairness in all relationships, including friendships. I would suggest a movie, we'd go. I invited her to my aerobics class, she went. I would ask, she'd go. BUT, she never reciprocated. And when it became obvious she wouldn't, I let the relationship die. I still considered her a friend because of her earlier support, but realized it wouldn't be the type of friendship I was used to.

I would occasionally get a Christmas card from her, as she got my address from a mutual friend. I never sent one back. And time went on.

I first ran into her again about seven years ago at the retirement of a colleague, but we didn't get the chance to catch up, so that was that. When I got an invitation to her retirement a year ago, I decided to go, more to celebrate her career as an educator, but also to visit with her (and see if any other old friends and colleagues might be there.)

She greeted me at the door and introduced me to her husband. (Knock me over with a feather! She settled down with one man?) I told her I was married (legally), she was happy for me and wanted to meet my honey and why wasn't he there with me? (That is another post.)

Three months later I sent her an email saying I was getting divorced. She replied that she was sad for me, but life throws us curves and it's best to move on, it's all for the best, etc..... All those tired but true cliches.

I didn't hear from her again until I ran into her this past weekend at a reunion for some classmates for my school. She had been the teacher for some of them and wanted to catch up with them and some other staff members who came.

After a while, she approached me and wanted to know how I was doing since my divorce and if I was seeing anyone. I was doing fine, I've come along way since the divorce, it's now finalized and all, and no, I'm not seeing anyone any longer.

Any longer? she wondered. I elaborated on my recent situation and how I felt about him.

Oh, no. I wasn't ready for a serious relationship, I was still too needy, after all it had only been a year since my husband left. She took over nine years to be ready for another relationship, she spent all that time with herself, getting to know herself again, because after her first husband left, she immediately got into another relationship and woke up one day wondering where she was, who she was and who this man was she was with. And that would indeed happen to me because it was too soon for me since a year was too soon for her. The more I tried to discuss with her that I felt I had made tremendous progress since my divorce, the more she argued against it. It was still too soon, I still felt I needed someone. I didn't know what I wanted, she could sense my energy. Well, my energy was all confused because I was still hurting from this last man. Part of me was hoping to salvage a friendship, part of me was needing a completely clean break.

All the while I was politely listening to her, I couldn't help but think she was full of shit. Just because it took her so long to grow, didn't mean I had to wait nine years to meet another man, we all grow at different rates. Maybe she went looking for that second relationship, I wasn't actively looking for anything but a good friend when I met him, and happened to fall in love with a friend, which I believe makes for a better long term relationship than actively looking for one. Remember the butterfly? And I am very determined to let my next relationship develop slowly over time, mostly to allow a firmer foundation on which to build the relationship.

And the worst part of what she was saying: no man would want to date me because of my finances, it's a deal breaker. Oh, kick a friend when he's down. Bitch.

But, maybe, just maybe there's a tiny grain of salt in her words. Tiny. While I do think there are some men who wouldn't want to date someone in a financial situation like mine, there are some who would. They would see the value in the person, not the circumstances. But, I would feel more comfortable being able to contribute to a date, and that would make me more comfortable with him in the long run.

I did come away from the reunion feeling worse about almost everything. None of the actual students who showed up were ever in my class, but it was still nice that they remembered me from the school, and it was nice visiting with the staff members who were there. Except one. I do think my friend thought she was trying to help me by comparing our situations, but she didn't end up helping. Or maybe she did. I am reminded of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  And while she may have had to take over nine years to be ready for another relationship, I don't need to. And while she may feel she needs to juggle several men at once because that is what she wants from life, I don't need to. Nor would I want to. Initially I was feeling worse because of what she said, but her situation isn't mine, she isn't me, and besides the Universe, only I know what's best for me. I am not giving my consent to feel inferior, or like shit, because things didn't work out the way I was hoping.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Looking back at my earlier dating years, (gods, that was over 26 years ago!) I am terrified to re-enter the dating game for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons of all is sex. Now, don't misunderstand, I enjoy sex, but not until I feel some connection to the guy. And that usually doesn't happen for me on the first date. And maybe not for a while.... And sex is how many men audition their next husbands, if the sex is good, the relationship will be good. But, I don't, because as some point the bloom is off the rose, and what then?

And with sex comes the whole STD question....another discussion to have.

And, all the electronic media have changed the rules. I'm told over and over that a text is more intimate than an email or a phone call. It seems there is a hierarchy of intimacy in how your date contacts you. I would have thought a phone call would be the most intimate. But, no. The trouble I find with electronic non-verbal media is you can't discern the tone of the voice in the message, was he being serious or sarcastic?  Call me old-fashioned, I prefer voice to voice communication for important matters.

Back in those early days, I was looking for love in the bars and clubs. Where else was a newly-out young gay man of twenty-three to find love since he was new to the community? I wondered why I was striking out so much. Maybe I was trying too hard, or maybe it was partly due to the intimidation factor, but maybe there was something else, as I was not having much luck. I mean, I could get laid, but I couldn't get a second date. During a session with one of my therapists, we went over the qualities I wanted in a partner; honesty, integrity, a 'connection.' He came back with "You do realize you are shopping for Tiffany's at a K-mart?" So, I stopped looking for love in these places. But, I still went to have a good time. Occasionally.

Ok, yes, men of integrity do go to the clubs. I was in one two weeks ago. But it was wrong. It was too soon after hearing, was just too soon.  So, how do you meet a man of quality if the bars and clubs aren't the best way to go?

Ask friends to set you up? That was awkward 16 years ago. But, it worked for a while. (And I didn't ask. They insisted.) And, their idea of what you're looking for might not match your definition.

An online site? It works for many, but there's always the chance of someone not reading your profile correctly. I mean, on my profile I did put "No Hookups" but many took it as a challenge. I actually got this  message on an app for gay men I once belonged to: "Could you use an oral versatile, hairy, hot Mex bottom? I'm close by." WTF? Didn't he read my profile? And if you end up chatting with someone and decide to meet, I imagine the actual meeting can be awkward. Did he live up to his photo? Do I have a 'connection' with the living person?

Social groups? That's a possibility. But, it can also be difficult trying to discern the relationship-status of the man who catches your eye. Is he single/dating/coupled/partnered in an open relationship? Asking him directly gives you away, and what if you don't catch his eye? The next club meeting might be uncomfortable. I am reminded of a friend who was very interested in this guy from a club they belonged to. After some flirting and talking they went out and ended up back in the other guy's bedroom in his apartment. After a nice, sensual massage, and some other relief, my friend was startled by the sound of the apartment door opening and was shocked to find it was not a roommate but the lover who was returning. My friend never returned to the club again out of embarrassment.

Coming of age in the 70s and 80s I was bombarded with all these messages of self-esteem. One that stuck with me was "Happiness is like a butterfly. Chase it and it will elude you. Wait for it and it will come and rest on your shoulder." So, now I had come to the conclusion that the best relationships are the ones that come to you, building on a friendship first. But that also brings a problem. When and how do you let a friend know you have fallen for him? that the rules have now changed? And what if the feelings aren't reciprocated? Talk about uncomfortable, awkward, and a whole myriad of other feelings....This was my friend from the Bible Study. After having that conversation, I never returned, rationalizing I had gotten what I needed from the group and no longer felt the need to participate. The truth is I didn't want to run into him again. It was too painful. It was still awkward about six years later running into him at the memorial of a mutual friend.

But, I digress from my original point. The real reason I am afraid of entering the dating scene again is mixed signals. Trying to decipher what he really means from what he just said, and trying not to send mixed signals myself. As a teacher, communicating my lesson is my utmost priority. I have to make those 32 kids understand what I just taught them. Sometimes it takes 4-5 times and ways to get my message across. And after 29 years of teaching children of all ages, academic levels and language abilities, I can usually figure out what they are trying to ask. But I still can have trouble getting my point across to them. I delivered the same lesson to three classes this week, and two of them understood it in 15 minutes, the third group took the whole hour. And they were the mid-ability group. And they still didn't get it. I thought I had made myself as clear as could be. I guess I didn't. As a writer, I want my readers to follow my scene as I write it, be it a tender love scene to courtroom drama to this blog. My recent post, 'Intimidation' brought several comments, mostly private and off the mark. I thought I was clearly referring to an initial first impression of me based solely on my looks. I guess I wasn't as clear as I thought. As an Aquarian, our need to be understood is inherent within us; it physically pains us when we are misunderstood. So, I am plagued with a tri-fold need to be clear.

Recent experiences have taught me I need to be more explicit in the dating scene. And what does 'dating' mean anyway? I mean, many people can go out socially with more than one person at a time; to play the field, separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Not me, I tend to focus on one guy at a time, giving him my undivided attention. Otherwise, it gets too confusing for me. And expensive. Dating also implies, to me anyway, you want to get to know the other guy maybe to see if a relationship is possible for the two of you, not necessarily focusing on being friends first. I don't necessarily go out looking for a relationship, I prefer to let one develop over time arising from a friendship first. I thought I had made that clear. I guess I hadn't.

And it physically pains me that I wasn't clear.