Daily Prompt – Lament of the Failed Murderer

Trio No. 3 Create a post that mentions a dark night, your fridge, and tears

Nights are the worst. Darkness shrinks my world to the circle of light shining from the neighbor’s garage. Sometimes I see an animal trotting across the lawn, darkened in shadow.  In summer the most prevalent noise is the deep thrumming sound of insects; night time is theirs, not ours.

I’m not a morning person, never was, so I’m up late almost every evening. I don’t like the switch away from daylight savings time.   More time to think. I do like the early twilight that starts around 4pm, that time of purple shadows and cold breezes.

Cooking is a solace for me, a way to shape my world and create something of value. The fridge is starting to fill up with containers of soup and stews. There’s an apple pie cooling on the counter; I’ll have a piece of it later on, in the darkness, its sweetness providing a counterpoint to whatever grim crime show I’m watching on TV.

I thought that house arrest would be easy, a slap on the wrist, a way to evade real punishment. I was wrong. Sitting here, alone, day after day, I have to face what I did. The conditions are strict: I am allowed out once a week for 2 hours, with an escort.   Some weeks I just go for a walk, other weeks I run errands. Most of what I need can be ordered online and delivered, but I still prefer to pick out vegetables and fruits myself.

The fridge is the guide to my life. Before all this happened, back when things were normal, its contents showed a busy and productive life. There was always at least one container of spoiled food shoved in the back, forgotten and alone. Restaurant leftovers were everywhere. These days, my fridge is spotless, gleaming inside and out. The shelves are stocked with fresh, homemade foods.

No almonds, of course. Too close in flavor to the arsenic-laced cake that resulted in my confinement. I thought I’d get away with it and that no one would notice. Now I weep bitter tears each night, as bitter as that cake. My problem was not adjusting the recipe. Had I added more sugar… well… my life might have been different.

I realize, now, what a fool I was. Our relationship was awful, but there were better avenues I should have pursued than the one I did. I hate to lose: that was the root of the problem. Filing for divorce, moving out; all the normal signs of a failed marriage, seemed undoable to me. I was too proud to admit my friends and family were right, that I’d married too soon, for the wrong reasons, to the wrong man. I couldn’t face up to letting go of my pride, to admitting I’d been wrong.

My plan was for a quick and simple death. My tears would be interpreted as those of a grieving widow, when in fact they would have been tears of joy. It didn’t work; he noticed and I was caught. I did get out of the marriage, but not the way I’d hoped.

And that is why I sit here, in the dark of night, with tears of grief and loss running down my face, and only the fridge for company.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Nighthawks

Untitled1You’ve seen the picture; everyone has. It shows a diner almost empty but for a couple leaning on one end of the counter and a lone man with his back to the viewer. Both appear to be watching the soda jerk behind the counter, the only subject in the picture moving.

What didn’t show up in the picture was me. I’m sitting on the bar stool just to the right of where the picture starts, invisible from the angle Hopper used. I didn’t make the cut. It’s the story of my life. I’m the guy who checks out 2 people ahead of the millionth customer, the sap who watches the winning home run ball bounce over his seat; just close enough to see something great, but never able to be a part of it.

Working behind the counter is Stan.   Back then he was the night manager. That’s not as impressive as it might sound; he was also the night cook, the night dishwasher, and the night cashier.  He’d grown up in the city, the oldest son of an immigrant family. When this picture was painted Stan was at City College, working nights and going to school during the day.   In a few years he’d be back at the diner, but as its owner.

The guy sitting with his back to the window was Jim, one of the regulars. Jim was a lush, what we used to call a booze-hound and now, in far less poetic language, an alcoholic. He was sobering up before heading home and to bed. This was back when Jim was still hanging on the perception of being in control of his life, still with a wife waiting for him at home and a job he’d show up to late the next morning. It wouldn’t last; within a few years he’d lose both, and the ability to blend in with everyone else. No matter how low Jim got, and he got plenty low, the night staff had standing orders from Stan to let him have coffee and a sandwich.

The couple were relative newcomers, young marrieds that had moved to the neighborhood just a few weeks earlier. They were theater people, used to having dinner long after most folks had gone to bed, and were ordering a meal from Stan. They’d just reached the point where their names were known; soon they’d be regulars, sitting down at the counter and more comfortable eating there than in their own dining room.

Edward Hopper, the artist, was another regular. He and his wife lived in the neighborhood, and came in often. Nice folks, not pretentious or “arty” in the least.

As for me, well, I was the one who, a few nights earlier, had suggested to Ed that this place would make a swell night picture. I was right, but I still didn’t get a chance to be in it. But then, as I said earlier, that’s just the story of my life.

Kitten Chronicles Continued

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I’ve learned much since my first missive. While my mental capabilities are far superior, I’ve come to realize the few advantages she has allow her to believe she holds the upper hand in our little pas de deux. Actually, there are only two advantages she has, but they are major.

The first is size. She can easily scoop me up in one of her massive paws. This is not mere hypothesis; it happens to me multiple times on a daily basis. Just when I find a cozy nook in the closet I’ll look up to see one of them coming at me. I can’t figure her out. When I attempt to include her in my games (I adore many of her dangly earrings and other jewelry), she picks me up and moves me to the couch. Okay, I can stay away; there is a nest of wonderfully pliant wires behind the TV set, and I can have just as good as a time playing there. That should be perfect, right? Nope, as soon as I start having fun there she is, bending down, picking me up and tossing me off to somewhere else. It’s clear her size is vastly out of proportion to her intelligence.

The second area where she has been blessed with a physical advantage is located right on those aforementioned meaty paws. I’m talking, of course, of her opposable thumbs. Sure, I have marvelously dexterous claws that allow me to pick up a single grain of rice one minute and eviscerate a vole the next; but I can’t turn the door knob to go outside, or open a can of that delectable food I get only sporadically. Oh, the cruel irony of fate and evolution. Were that I were her size, and with even one opposable thumb!

Still, I’m not one to dwell on the negative. I’ve been working on a few tricks, and while her ability to learn is painfully slow, there is some progress. The game I’ve been working on the most is one I call “Hallway escape”. It’s very simple, and deliberately so; to date I’ve caught only the faintest glimmers of cognitive abilities from her. Here is how the game works: when I hear her approaching the front door, I lie in wait and then dart out into the hallway.

At first, to help her learn, I would stop right outside the door. I can’t tell you how proud I was the first time I tried this game. She went to the front door, and I ran and hid on a chair located next to it. As soon as she opened the door I darted outside and then waited. Would she notice I was out? Would she know what to do? I held my breath waiting. She got it! Right off the bat, she noticed me and let me spend a little time enjoying the carpet before she picked me up and brought me back inside. It was a big moment. She’s picked up this game far better than I thought she would. Now we play it from either side of the door. I race up and down the hallway while she follows behind me, waiting until I’m ready to go back in the house. It’s one of our most fun times of day.

So, I have hope. I think that with time she may end up being fairly useful. If you don’t believe me, just come over one evening around the time she gets home from work. Watch me race out the door and down the hallway, with her dutifully following behind, letting me enjoy the delightfully scratchy carpeting before we go back in house, where she will immediately give me more food. That didn’t just happen; it’s the result of months of work on my part. They say you can’t train humans, but I know that’s not true. It just takes patience.

Daily Prompt: Truth Serum – I can’t handle it

You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?

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Truth is dangerous.

Each of us creates the story of our life, one day at a time.

We experience, react and then process, often within seconds. We do this all the time, usually without even being aware of it. A car merges in a little too close, resulting in the need to use the brakes.  “That driver almost caused an accident” we think. “What a maniac”. The experience has now been turned into a story that can be told later.

What would happen to our big moments if there was absolute candor, complete honesty, no overlay of reaction to the action?

I’ve been through trauma and experienced the worst I ever thought would happen. Peace and acceptance came only when I could put those experiences into a story that I could repeat, even if only to myself. A story that answered questions, provided closure, made sense of what had seemed senseless. Would a truth serum be of any value? Would it be like the scalpel of a skilled surgeon, carefully excising diseased tissues while saving the rest, or would it be more like an IED, planted ahead of time, blowing up with no warning and indiscriminately destroying everything it touches? I hope the former, but fear the latter.

So, in summation, I gracefully decline the offer.  Like Jack says, I just can’t handle it.

Kitten Chronicles

DSCN3924I’m sure you’ve seen those ads, where pathetic sniveling dogs express gratefulness to their new owners. Well, those are dogs: disgusting, noisy creatures with no sense of self-respect.   I remember dogs from my time at the pet store; they groveled and begged at every person who came in. How stupid. We cats know better; let the humans come groveling and begging for our attention, not the other way around.

Several weeks ago, I was still living there with some of my litter mates. We had been rescued from the cold and fostered by a kind woman who realized that the greatest good she could do in this life was to take in feral kittens. I am learning that such devotion and intelligence is rare among humans. After I reached the age of reason, my brothers and sisters and I were brought to a new location. Some painful and humiliating things were done to me there, and the less said about them the better. Still, I enjoyed my time there. There were many toys to play with and best of all we were mostly kept apart from the annoying people. Oh, an occasional hand would poke through the bars of our home, but it was easy to avoid them when privacy was wanted.

Until the afternoon she showed up. I was in a good mood that day, and was more than willing to snuggle and play with her. While at the store, she showed the appropriate amount of worshipful attention to me. I realize now that she was pretending in an attempt to fool me. One minute I was enjoying myself, chasing after a toy and racing around her skirt, and then suddenly I was locked into a small box and subjected to a car ride. That was the first indication of her evil, treacherous nature.

I now live with the woman. At one time there was another cat here: I can smell her clearly but she is nowhere to be seen. This concerns me greatly, and I wonder if perhaps I will meet the same fate that must have befallen the missing cat. There are a number of really fun things to play with, but the stupid woman gets upset whenever I attempt to enjoy myself. For example, I was just having the best time rolling around and tugging at some wires. I was able to pull a number of items down from a taller shelf, giving me even more things to play with. Sure enough, she ran over and ruined all the fun. She hissed at me and pushed me away. Hissing! Really? Who the hell does she think she is – my mother? Or perhaps she thinks I am as stupid as she is and will not know the difference between a human woman and the cat that birthed me.

That is just one example of how much my life now sucks. The other night I was having a grand time. I started on her dresser, jumped onto a rocking chair, raced around on the floor, jumped up to go back and forth on the bed, then over to the headboard where I ran across it back to the dresser and started my second lap. I was considerate enough to include her in the game, making sure that when I ran up and down on the bed it was right over her. It would have been a lot easier to run just anywhere on the bed, but that’s the kind of kitten I am. Well, you’d expect that she would have been thrilled with this game, or at least thank me for including her. Instead, she let out a yell, turned on the light, and shot a stream of water at me. What a bitch.DSCN3937

To be fair, she is not totally evil. I eat well, and there are times when she is willing to play and provide me with the proper devotion. Still, she seems intent on prohibiting me from doing much of what I want to do, and for that she must pay.

She isn’t here right now, which is why I am able to use the laptop. In yet another example of her idiocy she doesn’t use a password, so I hop on the computer whenever she isn’t around. What a maroon.   I’ve placed an order for 10 pounds of cat treats and the largest, fanciest cat tree I could find. It’s got a perch way up at the top that will let me jump on top of her head anytime she’s near it. That should be fun!

Wait; I hear her at the door. Time to save this document, close the laptop and pretend I’m just hanging out on the table. She is so stupid…

True Confessions of an Ex-bookworm, or Why I Will Never Finish A Tale of Two Cities

Reading the first words in a new book sends a shiver of anticipation down my spine. I wait for the moment when I am pulled into the story, no longer a passive, external watcher but a participant. Descriptive passages seem to reflect what I can actually see in my mind’s eye, conversations relay what I am hearing. The words become a conveyance used to transmit this reality to my brain, different but no less valid than what eyes and ears do.   The world within the book becomes more real than the physical world that surrounds me.   Despite that, no matter what adventure is being experienced, it is always safe within the pages of a book. Nothing can hurt me when I am reading.

Books, for me, are magic.

For as long as I can remember, there were few things that beat the feeling of being immersed in a good book. I was an awkward, geeky kid and we moved a lot; I never had many friends. What I did have was books, and I read them nonstop.  I’ve spent many weekends sucked into a book, eschewing friends and activities to find out what happens next. There have been nights when I was so tired I could barely see, but I wanted to read just one more page – and then just another one more page – until I would fall asleep over the book.

The switch to eBook format didn’t faze me one bit. Sure, the physical feel of opening a book and turning pages was gone, but that was more than made up for by being able to take every book I was currently reading with me, and the thrill of finishing a book and being able to start a new one right away.

The magic is gone. It disappeared two years ago, during the month I spent sitting next to Rick for hours every single day. Most days he was unaware I was there; I held his hand and read. I read 4 or 5 books that month and I don’t remember a thing about any of them.

Except for the last one I read.

For some reason I had never read A Tale Of Two Cities. I started reading it mid-August. Despite being written 150 years ago about a story that was two generations old even then, the book is a great read. As with all of Dickens’ novels the characters are honest and real; even minor ones are engaging.   The story was exciting, and switching the narrative between characters kept the pacing to a much more modern level than most Victorian novels.   I am a sucker for good writing, and love to encounter a combination of words so effortlessly elegant it makes you stop.  TOTC had many of those lines.

This was the book I was reading when I looked up to see the somber faces of his doctors as they walked in to say there was nothing more that could be done; this was the book I stopped reading the day he died.

I just checked; I’m at page 161 of 237, 68% complete. I will never read another word of A Tale of Two Cities; it remains inextricably bound with those painful, final days of Rick’s life, with the realization that there wasn’t going to be any bottom of the 9th home run to save the game and that all hope was gone.

That day, I lost the magic.   I couldn’t immerse myself into Paris of the 1790s and forget where I was. The world – the real world – was right there and it wasn’t going anywhere.

The magic never did come back. Books are no longer an oasis. Oh, I still read, and probably more than most people do. I can critique and analyze as well as I ever could, but I don’t have that shiver of excitement anymore. I can enjoy a book, but I can no longer become immersed in it. Most of the time, I’d rather watch a movie than read.

I’m not a bookworm anymore.

My dad could kick Don Draper’s ass

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I am the same age as Sally Draper.  We both grew up a long time ago, in a galaxy far away,  in a world that no longer exists. Beyond that simple sharing of age, we have nothing in common.  My family did not have anywhere near the money the Draper’s had.  I never went on a vacation that didn’t end up at a relative’s house.

More to the point, my father was nothing like Don Draper, and thank goodness for that.  In my suburban upbringing, Dad left the house early every morning and returned every evening just in time for dinner.   No one thought that was unusual; it was just the way things were.

What was unusual was the degree of involvement he had in our lives.  Many of my friends ate dinner early, with their parents eating a later, quiet adults-only meal.  Not in my house, despite the number of times my father mentioned it  (usually after one of us spilled a glass of milk, or a raging fight had just blown over).

When bedtime came, it was Dad’s turn to take over.  I have no memories of my mother ever putting us to bed; that was his job.  He was great storyteller, and bedtime was a chance to hear his range of voices and accents.  Many of his choices were adult classics; I can still hear him reading Rudyard Kipling, complete with British and Indian accents.

My mother slept like the dead; when I had a bad dream or woke up too late to make it to the bathroom, it was Dad who fixed everything and got me back to sleep.  Later, in my teen years, he was the one to greet me at the door when I tried to sneak in past curfew.

To me, as a child, my dad was amazing.  He’s a small man, but compactly built and strong (even today, in his mid-80s, he lifts weights every morning).  My father was into exercise and healthy living long before it became fashionable. During the same years when Don Draper was drinking a 3-martini lunch, my dad was running the track at the downtown Chicago YMCA (this was so long ago it that the term “jogging” hadn’t yet been invented).  He hung chin-up bars on the door frames of our bedrooms, and tried in vain to convince us to use them every time we went in or out of the door.

Visiting him at work was always fun.  There were the fish tanks filled with guppies, the desk drawer stuffed with candy bars Mom would never let us eat, and the great view of Chicago out the window.  I’d always surreptitiously look for the paperweight I made for him back in first grade; it was there prominently displayed on his desk for every visit from early childhood through adulthood and until his retirement.

My dad didn’t dress as well as Don, and certainly never earned that kind of money; but I knew that I could always depend on him to be there when I needed him.  And he always has been.   He took us fishing, brought us to museums, went on family picnics, and showed up for every single school event.

Dad’s older now, and my relationship with him, as with my mother, is shifting from receiving support to giving care.  I take them grocery shopping most weekends, and I’m getting a lot of phone calls asking for help on certain items.

Still, there are times when he remains my dad, the guy who can take care of anything scary and make the world safe.  When I was little, he made sure that my room was free of the monsters I was sure lived in the closet.  At Rick’s funeral, as I was getting ready to leave, my Dad walked up to me and asked if I needed help paying for it.  He’d brought his checkbook.  I loved him for doing this; for being ready to help out just in case it was needed.  He was there, just as he’s been there for my whole life.

 

Lessons from my mother

I wrote this last year, in tribute to my Mom.  Mom’s still going strong at 85; I realize now how lucky I am, not only because she’s still around, but because of what a great job she did in raising the three of us.

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My daughter is fully grown, so I’m at that stage of motherhood where I know everything and never had any problems. Yup, my memories of those years are crystal clear, and there were never any melt-down tantrums in the grocery store at 6pm, no rude behavior in front of people, no problems. At all.  Ever.  For 18 years I spoke to my daughter in a friendly, helpful manner. There were never any fights and she wouldn’t even recognize what my voice sounds like if I was yelling. Umm… yeah. Not really.

Whether because of me, or in spite of me, she’s happy with herself, has a knack for choosing good friends, and leads a decent life. That’s a win in my book. Being as there really is no way to determine how much of her success is due to me and how much is just her, I’m planning on taking full credit for it; after all, it is Mother’s Day.

Here are my sure-fire rules for parenting. And, by the way, these are the same rules that my mom used on the three of us, so these aren’t just my made up ideas – they are from my mom. And you better not be saying anything bad about her, because I think she’s pretty great.

1. Perfection, schmerfection. One of the hopes we all have for our children is that they do better and be better than we were. It’s a kind of ongoing evolution. If you struggled with school, you hope your child will be a better student. If you grew up in a poor family, you want your kids to have more. Make this easier for your kids by not being perfect. Let them grow up knowing there’s at least one area where they can be better than you.

2. Don’t make home too comfortable. I’m a boomer. When I was in high school, my parents and I didn’t listen to the same music or enjoy the same activities. Living at home was not fun, and I couldn’t wait to leave. I was willing to live in dumpy, squalid apartments with roommates who came and went (often with my LPs) because it seemed to be an improvement over moving back home. Make your kids anxious to leave at 18 and feel that they are willing to put up with substandard housing just for the chance of being on their own.

3. Failures are good. Remember when your kids were learning to walk? They were short, already close to the ground, and their bones were pliant. It was the perfect design for gravity deficiencies. Most of the time, a toddler falls, looks surprised, and then starts right back up again. Imagine if you waited until your child was a full-grown adult to teach them to walk; how much more painful the falls would be. Let your kids learn from mistakes early, when the missteps are less harmful. If Junior didn’t turn in his work and isn’t being allowed to attend the school’s movie day, that’s great! He’ll cry and be upset and feel sad – and learn that not finishing work has consequences.

4. Pick your battles. I am always amazed when parents of teenagers get into heated battles over minor issues like hair styles. If you turn yourself into a perceived enemy on small things, you’ll never know about the big things.

5. The ability to make good choices may be the most important lesson to give your children. Let your kids practice making choices, and then see what happens.  Start early; toddlers can pick their own clothes from a pre-selected group. This one is tied closely with number 3, because part of learning how to make good choices is to find out what happens when you make bad choices.

6. Keep your eye on the prize. What’s the easiest kind of child to raise? The kid who dutifully does whatever he/she is asked to do, who never talks back, doesn’t question anything and can’t come up with an independent idea. Is that the kind of adult you want your child to become? If not, then let them practice early. On you. Yeah, it’s tough; but if you want your child to grow up and be the kind of person who is willing to stand up and point out when things are wrong, you can’t raise her/him to blindly accept authority. Even when that authority is yours.

7. Self-respect is earned, not given out on the end of a ribbon. Everyone knows when they are being patronized, even small children. If you want your little future adults to have a good sense of self-worth, then make sure they earn it. Constant praise for doing nothing just creates a sense of entitlement.

8. Ice cream is a fine dinner, once in a while. Look, being a kid is hard, and they have some horrible days just like you do, and sometimes it is good to break the rules. One of the best things about being an adult is that you get to choose a lot more. Sometimes do the crazy fun thing and take your kids out for banana splits instead of eating the balanced meal you were planning on making.

9. Teach your kids to think, and then respect their decisions. My Mom’s favorite saying as we grew up was that she was trying to teach us how to think. When we were older, she let us make a lot more decisions than many of my friends were allowed to make. By the time we were young adults, her mantra was “I tried to teach you how to think. I might not agree with your decision, but I respect how you got there”.

10. The days are endless, but the years go by in seconds. I was a single parent for most of my daughter’s childhood. It was grueling at times, and there were moments when I felt that I’d never have a chance to have time to myself. It seemed endless and exhausting and then, just like that, I was driving to a high school graduation. Somehow those long days of parenting were over, forever, and I had to say goodbye to that part of my life. My memories of small moments: looking out the window at 3am as I was nursing; waving goodbye on the first day of kindergarten; junior high dances;those harrowing driving lessons: all seem present and as clear as though they just happened; and yet, it was a generation ago.

Why I still love Wrigley Field

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The first thing I noticed was the smell: a pungent, rich aroma that was a combination of hotdogs, warm beer, just a whiff of grass,  and that hard to define smell from old wooden seats and concrete. Vendors hawked programs, drinks and food.  There were new sounds I’d never heard before; the sharp crack of a bat hitting a ball, the roar of a crowd yelling in one voice, the voices of those lone individuals providing their own commentary to the ball game.  The organ, playing a signature tune for each batter.  The chatter from players, wafting its way up to us in the seats.

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It was my first ball game, and where I fell in love with baseball, the Chicago Cubs,  and Wrigley Field.  This was way back, so long ago that people wore street clothes to games.  The game was so much quieter than today.  The only music was from the organ. The scoreboard was out in center field.  It was low-tech and simple, no lights, instant replay, or fancy graphics.  Inning scores were updated by a person inside the scoreboard manually sliding out the numbers, much like changing storm windows.  The “thwack” sound of each inning’s score being slid into place was audible.  There were no signs or advertisements at Wrigley, just green vines and brick walls.  And a team that was consistently in the cellar of the National League.

That was 1960.  A decade later, when I was in high school, I went to many games with my best friend.  All the games were held during the day, and bleacher prices were cheap; they hadn’t yet been turned into yuppie status symbols.  We’d get there early to watch batting practice, cheering whenever we saw Ernie Banks or Ron Santo.  Ernie, known as Mr. Cub, always made time to go and talk with fans, especially kids, and usually had to be pulled away by the coach when it was his turn for batting practice.  We cheered the team on during the great 1969 season, confident that we’d be back in the fall to watch them during the World Series.  Instead, we got to see them tank during August and fall to the Mets.

Later, things changed somewhat.  The 1980s brought in cable TV and an influx of new fans.  Suddenly the Cubs were hip, and those cheap bleacher seats became pricey.  The unthinkable happened – lights were added.  By this time, I was still a fan, but now located in Wisconsin and watching the games on TV.  I’d also started rooting for the Brewers, an American League team, and got to watch an actual World Series with them in 1982.  In 1984, the Cubs finally had another great team, this time anchored by Ryne Sandberg. I was certain that this would be their year, but of course, they lost. During that final game the cable went out, and I listened to the last sad innings over the radio.  The 80s closed out with another good team, another summer of anticipation and hopes, another season ending in despair.

I was still a fan but bruised; older, wiser and expecting pain as my lot in life.  The decade of the 90s came and went and the Cubs were, well, still the Cubs.  A few close calls, but never making it to the World Series.  The millennium came, and the Cubs still continued.  My personal endpoint happened in 2003 with the loss to the Marlins, and the fan interference that I still can’t bring myself to say out loud. By now I was a divorced empty nester, watching the game with a neighbor who was also a Cubs fan.  We sat in disbelief as a fan reached out and snatched the ball away, and then as the Cubs proceeded to lose when they were 2 outs away from the World Series.  Two outs.  TWO OUTS.

That was the end of my time with the Cubs.  I think of them now as that bad boyfriend who always manages to sweet-talk his way back into your heart no matter how many times he screws you over.  I’m done with them now; no more will they seduce me with hopes of this year, really, it’s a good team.  I wish them well, but I’ve moved on.

But Wrigley Field; oh, that gorgeous place, redolent with 100 years of games and ivy; it’s what baseball is and was always meant to be.  It’s the reason a 6-year-old became a life-long fan of the game.  And it’s still just as wonderful as it ever was.  Happy birthday, Wrigley Field.  I no longer root for the Cubs, but I still love their home field.

Chapter 4: Dating – or how to ruin your mood in a few easy steps 

It’s been almost a year and a half, and I’ve made it through that early period where hope was hard to find and just climbing out of bed was a major accomplishment. I am a survivor. The pain is easing, and I’m starting to feel better; in fact, I was feeling pretty darn good.

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So, there I was at the start of 2014, finally feeling whole again. Realizing that I was tired of being alone, that I wanted more. It was time to move forward and start facing the next step in life: reentering the world of dating. I was ready, and fully expected that within a few days the phone would start ringing with invitations and offers. Except that… it didn’t.

On to plan B.

Back in late January, I located a few pictures that didn’t include Rick, wrote my dating profile and hit the upload button to an online dating service. Which means, it’s time for another chapter in the Guide for the Recently Widowed, where in my role as guide to all things widow, I will enlighten you on the wonderful world of online dating.

After joining the site I felt great. I was taking control of my life, choosing a new direction, being active instead of reactive. I was on top of the world.

kingoftheworld

I had a fantasy, one so dangerous I tried my best to keep it under lock and key. There would be an email or two, then a decision to meet. There would be instant rapport, that sparkly thing that happens when you are attracted to someone and it’s reciprocated. We’d talk and it would be a great conversation, and at the end, there would be that wonderful feeling that happens when you totally click with someone. We’d move forward slowly, but there would be constant, steady movement forward.

That didn’t happen, of course.

Here’s what has.

Right off the bat, I started receiving winks and nudges or whatever the hell they call them. Mostly these were from men that were hundreds of miles away, despite my stating I wasn’t interested in a long-distance relationship. Some contained messages that were a bit creepy.   Others were just sadly off.

I started viewing profiles, and realized there is money to be made in helping people write these. It’s not that dissimilar to a job interview. A few hints, Mr. and Ms. Widow, on what not to do in your online dating profile:

– Don’t put in pictures where you’re topless (this is addressed to Mr. Widow). Especially when sporting a beer gut.
— Nothing says “I’m stupid and lazy” like a profile rife with misspellings, typos and incorrect word usage. If you don’t get the difference between they’re, their and there, have a friend proof read your profile.
— We’re all adults here, so the expectation of a physical aspect to a relationship is completely rational. But don’t start the conversation with it. That’s just not right.
— Pathetic loneliness or seething anger are not real attractive.

There were the men I contacted who were not interested in me, and vice versa. There were the email exchanges that were creepy or just plain hostile. There was the in-person meeting that was pleasant but completely devoid of interest.

And then… there was the one perfect, wonderful meeting that totally met the fantasy.  He was intelligent, and attractive, and we talked and talked.  At the end we both expressed interest in meeting again.  I left excited, looking forward to what might happen.  Instead, it seemed to lead nowhere.  A few weeks in I realized I was the one initiating all contacts, and decided it was time to ask why.  Then we had another great date; a wonderful conversation where we talked about the hesitation and reticence. His  final words to me were “I’ll call you”.  And that was it.  No more calls, no emails, not even a text.  Yeah, dating sure is fun.

And all that positive feeling of taking charge, of making decisions and restarting my life, of being able to look forward to the future… was gone. Completely, utterly, totally, kaput.

tina-fey-internet-quote-gifBut still, I’d rather be trying and losing than doing nothing. So I’m back in, reviewing those profiles, still hoping for some success.  Or at least a decent date.   And keep in mind, Mr. and Ms. Widow, we will make it through.