On the 3L’s

I keep taking love quizzes on Facebook and I have had it with them.  “7 Signs You Have Found Your Soulmate”, “50 Ways To Tell You Are in a Healthy Relationship”, “How Well Do You Know Your Lover?” and so on and so forth.  I can’t resist them yet I inevitably finish embarrassed to partake in such things.  What am I, a teenage girl?  So, I came up with my own.  No long list, no quiz.  Just the 3 ingredients I need these days to be happy with a man.  “The 3L’s.”  Believe me when I say that I do NOT profess to be an expert on long-lasting love. But, I certainly am trying and here is what seems to matter most to me at this point:

1. I need to LIKE you.  A lot.  As I observe married couples who are still happy, they seem to have a genuine respect for their partner.  They enjoy and are interested in each other. It isn’t a tolerance of the other only (I am putting up with you because I am committed to you and feel bad leaving you because I said I wouldn’t but I can’t stand you really).  It isn’t a put on for appearances.  They aren’t staying together “for the kids”.

There is a brilliant study that predicts the longevity of marriage in 3 minutes.(http://www.isoulseek.com/sitebranches/relationskills/articles/6signs.pdf)  John Gottman isolated 6 main signs of trouble in paradise but he emphasized that the number one predictor is CONTEMPT. This is a form of anger which can display itself in many ways but the study focuses on body language and tone of voice.  I can vividly recall myself in relationships that were ill-fated and how that type of poison had entered the equation.  This stemmed from a loss of respect somewhere along the way and from that loss of respect I became contemptuous. And rather than leave, we tolerated each other with a seething anger, eye-rolls and a disdain between us that showed itself in condescension.

2. There must be LUST.  I know better than to think Lust is a good foundation for a long-lasting relationship but it is a requirement.  Chemistry, glances across a room, the remnants of his scent, the touch of his skin.  We really are just animals in the animal kingdom and heat between us matters.  I so wish that this factor was less important to me.  I have ended perfectly lovely relationships because I just didn’t feel “it”.  I have met many wonderful men but without that unnameable spark, there is no future.  It’s what all good love songs are about.  It’s what makes the world go round, makes us want to make babies even when it makes no sense.  We do irrational things, wear ridiculously high heels and give of ourselves.  This fire helps us endure life’s little drudgeries which are inevitable.

3. Last but not least, we must eventually and ultimately LOVE each other.  I am talking about real, respectful and gracious love.  The kind of love that may mean that I love you so much, I want you to be happy despite how your happiness impacts me.  “If you love someone, set them free” and other slogans stick around as long as they do because the true teaching of love is not about possession.  I remember hearing this concept when my kids were born-that my kids are souls that I am fortunate enough to care for.  But they are not “mine”.  Love, at it’s best, liberates us and helps make us our best self.  The people I know who are happily married the longest have this in common.   They love each other through all of life’s changes, through their ups and downs and maybe they will make it, “til death do us part”.

I have officiated two weddings.  One, 20 years ago and they are still married.

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*me on the left with the beautiful Bride.  We were 23 years old.  I was trying to look more Adult but look more Amish?

The other was just last year. Below is the moment when I had them read their vows off the iPhone because I had forgotten them inside.  A funny and perfect moment.

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I gave marriage and love a whole lot of thought for both weddings.  I believe that both couples have what it takes to go the distance and one is half-way there already!  The fact that they asked me to officiate (as an unmarried woman) challenged me, humbled me and I dug down deep to find the right things to say about marriage.  I, despite my many “failed” romances remain a believer in love.

I don’t know if I will marry again.  I don’t know if I believe in Soul Mates or forever for me.  I do know that love heals.  I believe we all deserve love.  I know that after having children, I have experienced love in it’s purest and most selfless form.

I am happy with my guy and I feel all 3L’s for him.  And for today, that’s enough for me.

 

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On Princess School

Growing up, I didn’t have too many great role models of marriage.  It has taken me a whole lot longer than most to develop standards and values that I would be proud to pass on to my Daughter for how to be treated.  I have come to jokingly and lovingly call this “Princess School”.  I know when I meet a Princess School Graduate in my chair or in my social circle because life is pretty good for them.  Things are TAKEN CARE OF.  And lest you think I am talking about not carrying my own bags, that isn’t it.  Nor is this discussion about money, material items or being a Diva. It’s really about self-esteem and self-respect.

When I was becoming a Feminist in my late teens, I confused “Having it all” with “Having to do it all”.  I was going to have a career, kids and a relationship.  The man I chose would not have to provide for me.  I could do it myself.  Maybe HE could stay at home with the kids.  I could do it all because I wanted to.  I judged women critically who declared their Boyfriend “treats me like a Queen”.  I had some stuff a bit backwards.

I was 26 when I met Daniel and 28 when we got married.  We met playing in nightclubs in NYC.  We created music together. We fought a lot.  We were in love.  We had our son when I was almost 30 and daughter at 31 and divorced soon after. He was and will always be a great love of my life and you could never have talked me out of marrying him.  But put it this way, I bought my own wedding ring.

When I was in my 20s, I decided that LOVE was all that mattered.  I thought that if I loved YOU, that was the most important factor for us to have a relationship.  Princesses don’t think this way.  At all.  Princesses are rational and decide that yes, love matters but how you treat THEM matters as much, if not more.  How you are treated-not just how you feel about the other person. This is the difference.

We decided to get married on a Thursday night.  We got our marriage license on Friday.  We got married at City Hall in NYC on Monday at 2. We invited the few friends who we thought could make it.  I spent the weekend preparing.  One of my best friends made the cake. My other close childhood friend made my bouquet.

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*disco ball shoes featured are mine

I knew Daniel didn’t have the money for a ring so I went ahead and bought one for myself.  Then I took the subway to the Upper East Side to a wedding boutique to look at tiaras.  The very elegant sales ladies were horrified when they asked me what my dress looked like and I pulled it out of my BACKBACK.

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I had this dress for years.  I figured it was white and strapless and why not wear it? Their tiaras were way out of my budget so I left and got one elsewhere and laughed a little at the thought of how they were probably talking about me.  Clearly, they were used to dealing with Princesses.  On a timeline.  Not a short sale.

I loved my husband. I loved our little wedding.  Our children were born of love.  I wouldn’t change any of that.  I led with passion and my heart, always.  But looking back, it wouldn’t have hurt for me to have more needs, more self-respect and ask for a little more in life earlier on. The two don’t have to be at odds.  This I didn’t understand.

There is so much to say about how we think of ourselves and how these thoughts generate the actions that create our lives.  It could be said that our lives are manifestations of how we feel about ourselves.  Where I still have work to do is as a late-comer to Princess School.  Maybe I will never become one?  I’m probably too old so I should be enrolling in Queen School.  But this much I know-I’d like to stop creating hardship for myself.  I’d like to think there are new ways of thinking that are easier than the ones I have.  I’d like to stop suffering because I think I have to, because it’s second nature.  There surely is something to be said for buying one’s own ring.  And there is surely something to be said for not having to.

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On Vacation

This year, my family and I rented a beach house together and will spend a week on vacation.  The house we rented is only about 35 minutes from my actual house and 15 minutes from the house I grew up in.  At a beach I grew up going to every chance I could. I was a beach girl, back in the day.

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*1985 Stinson Beach.  Crutches were mine from a non-drinking related ankle sprain.  Actually, it probably did involve California Coolers

In my beach years, I had a tan, long Blonde hair and I dated Surfers.  The beachy lifestyle continued through college (location changed) where I studied on the beach, worked by the beach, ran on the beach.  You get the idea. When at last I found I could no longer tolerate ANOTHER beautiful day, I traded health and happiness for angst and suffering NYC-style.  While in NY, I became an (aspiring) Actress, got rid of my Valley Girl accent and avoided the sun as well as overly-happy people. I learned I was actually a translucent shade of white and that I had been dating dumb-dumbs. No men in NY told me, “you think too much”.

I did have this uncontrollable urge when pregnant to dig a hole in the sand to put my tummy in so a few times in that 9 months I went to the beach.

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Besides this moment of glory, I was an Urban Dweller all the way.  When my son was born, we moved back to California to the town I live in now.  As the years have gone by (13 now), the call to be by the water gets stronger and stronger.  I realized this week sadly, that I have become that person that craves a somewhat different life than I live.  And yet I don’t know if I can change my life, at least for awhile. Wise women have told me that the 70s Feminist Tenet of “having it all” is a myth.  We can have it all, just not all at the same time.

Only after I had my kids did I start to comprehend the meaning of sacrifice. The purpose of my life became completely clear.  I felt the full weight of providing and nurturing, endlessly. The necessity of stability and the exhaustion and satisfaction of being stretched thin. Parenting, especially single-parenting, is hardcore.

The good news and bad news about my kids getting older is that I now have more time on my hands to think about ME.  For years, people would ask me how I was doing and I would be…clueless.  Me?  Feelings?  There was no “me time”.  I was thoroughly out of touch.  Yet, I found great liberation in that state.  Me? I am a Mom.  I am working for them.  I get up for them.  I clean, work, think and act for their well-being.  I loved this freedom from the self-centeredness of my past.  The total lack of Existentialist questioning.  Free from the naval-gazing emptiness I felt in my 20s.

On Vacation, we have time to reflect.  I have accomplished a whole lot in my life thus far.  And when I boil it down, I now think I will have really “made it” if I have a hot tub and can see the sunset regularly.  This week I got a taste of what that feels like.  And it happens to be a lifestyle I can’t actually afford.

Or can I?

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The tagline I often think of adding to this blog is, “What you don’t see but everyone else does”.  I was speaking about this concept with a client this week and she reminded me of something I studied in College called the Johari Window.  The Johari Window was created in 1955 by two guys-Joe and Harry.  Get it?Joe+Harry=Johari!  (They were way ahead of Bennifer and Brangelina in the name-merge game.)  The Johari Window is a technique used to help people understand themselves in relation to self and others.  Basically, the quadrant outlines a simple way to view personal and interpersonal development.

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In the top left corner lives the self that we show the outside world.  I would call this our public persona.  It can now be found quite prolifically represented in Social Media because we are able to widely broadcast to others the version of our self WE would like seen.   Lately, the Selfie phenomenon has been linked with Narcissism and other mental illness but in lesser extreme cases, we are simply creating our image and inventing the perception of our public self.  Branding, really.  Here is my version of what I want you to think about me:

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In the next corner is what this blog is about-blind spots.  What others see about us but we do not see.  The back of your head.  The back of my head.  Here is a picture of the actual back of my head:

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The Johari Window technique has been widely used in the workplace to specifically target blind spots.  The idea is that we should minimize our blind spots, see our weaknesses or behavior and perhaps better forecast the impact of our choices faster with awareness.  If I could see myself more clearly, would I make the same decisions?  High levels of personal development require us to rid ourselves of this gap.

Athletes utilize this technique when they look at footage of their own games. They are trying to see, from the cameras standpoint, what they can not see in themselves while performing so they can make adjustments and achieve better results. I remember watching the show, “What Not To Wear” and always enjoying the moment when the subject views themselves from all angles for the first time.  Usually, this moment of clarity is enough for the subject to want to change when they finally see what other people are seeing in them.

Similarly, as Hairdressers we learn to use the mirror to show us what our own eye may not perceive.  We turn you into the mirror to check for balance, light, proportion and also to try and see what you see as our client.  I use my camera the same way.  I want to see accurately.  I want to close the gap between my eye and the perception of the lens.  It is these moments of truth (as seen by others, by the mirror, by the camera), the moment when we have a chance to truly see ourselves.

The next corner is the self that we see but we do not show others.  I think of it as the bad picture, the one you delete.  The double chin, the wrinkles.  The way we really eat when no one is around.  The underbelly, the sloth. Who are we when no one is looking? I took this Selfie when I was crying and sad and feeling like crap.  I am still managing how I look here as my “sad self” so I don’t look as bad as I probably do really crying but it’s pretty raw nonetheless:

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The last corner of the Johari Window is the self that we do not even know ourselves.  What we don’t know that we don’t know.  Our lack of awareness could be because the depth of self is still unconscious, repressed or even possibly undeveloped strengths and talents.  I don’t know what unhidden talents I have. I feel like I am maxing out the ones I am aware of!  I do know that I suffer from some anxiety as best represented by this:

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For example, if I get a rash, I am pretty sure I am dying.  Fortunately (and from 20+ years on a spiritual path), this aspect of myself doesn’t rule me but I see that if I could get to the root of it and make it merely a correctable Blind Spot, I could be happier.  I would gamble to say that the reason people seek Psychics or even Therapists is because we don’t feel we have access to this part of ourselves.  We feel there is something bigger, hidden and mysterious inside of us and in store for us.

What is it?

 

 

 

 

 

On Heritage Day

For many years, I traveled for work and my kids and family were troopers.  They dealt with me being gone for days at a time and often I worked 16-18 hour days while I would fly across states to teach or conduct meetings and come back.  I was on a plane every week at least twice.  As you can imagine, this was quite a juggling act as a single Mom and looking back on those years, I can’t believe we pulled it off.  Every so often, I had a complete failure and this story is one of them.

 

It was 9 PM on a school night and I had just picked up my then pre-school girl and 1st grade boy from my Mom’s house after a long trip away for work.  We were heading home when I had a sudden moment of bad-mom panic. Tomorrow is HERITAGE DAY at school, I remembered.  A wave of fear flashed over my body as I vaguely recalled the memo that suggested we research our family’s heritage and create a dish to bring to school to share.  And your child would present the dish to the class with a speech about his heritage. The memo gave no direct menu suggestions but I imagined all the lovely Mommies chopping vegetables for Borscht, pressing corn for tortillas or melting chocolate for a French pastry.  A moment of perfect togetherness whilst simultaneously enforcing lineage and traditions. Making memories to last a lifetime….

It was just as we were driving past United Liquors as I had this thought and you know what comes next.

I pulled over.

So my 4-year-old and 6-year-old perused the shelves of our local liquor store with their haggard mother trying to determine what off these shelves could pass for a representation of our heritage?  Certainly I couldn’t bring in alcohol (when, in fact, that probably would be the best representation of our heritage).  What else is there at liquor stores? Beef jerky.  Chips.  Ice Cream.  Gum. Cigarettes.

Pop Tarts

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The next day, my son attended his first grade Heritage Day with 4 boxes of Pop Tarts and gave a short speech about how Pop Tarts are a part of his heritage because whenever he or his Sister get sick, they are allowed to eat Pop Tarts.

We are all “damaging” our kids in ways they will most certainly blame us for later.  We don’t know exactly how the scars will be made.  One friend puts all her loose change in a therapy jar, for future use.  The current, ongoing complaint about me is my cooking and that my solutions are (predictably):

A) Put some Barbeque Sauce on it

Or

B) Why don’t YOU cook dinner

But that, dear readers, is not a real problem in life.  My kids will survive having a Mom that is a shitty cook.  They are surrounded by love and well taken care of.

And the truth is, those kids loved the Pop Tarts.  Better than the Borscht.

 

 

 

 

On T.B. Sheets

It’s been many years since I have written about Mike, a man I loved from age 19 who died tragically 9 years ago. I will never forget the moment I met him.  I was just starting my job as a Hostess at the swanky Mexican restaurant I would work at all through college (Hostess, then Waitress, then Manager).  I was seated on a bench outside in my bright blue, spandex halter mini-dress, red lipstick and curled hair (my style icon at the moment was Laura Dern in “Wild at Heart”).  I may or may not have been smoking a Camel cigarette.  Ok, don’t tell my kids but I was smoking.  And he asked me if he could have one.

 

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He was a Bartender at the restaurant and he was stopping in to get a newspaper.

That he could read.

While he sat in his AA meeting.

Friends….the ONLY people who read in AA meetings are at an AA meeting because the court sent them.

And that didn’t stop me from falling in love.  As I mentioned in On Unicorns, I seem to have a faulty love mechanism that only has an on/off switch.  Once switched on, it is damn near impossible to switch off.  So, I loved him despite how the next years would unfold.  Despite all good evidence not to.

We all used to go to a dive bar after work.  This bar had a juke box and on that juke box was the album by Van Morrison called T.B. Sheets.  I would watch Mike across the room as he would smoke, drink, flirt with girls, play pool and at the end of the night he would put money into the juke box and play the title song from the album. It is 9 minutes and 34 seconds and I wished it would go on forever.

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Some nights, he chose me to go home with.  He was 9 years older than me but no longer had a car after his second DUI.  He would ride me on the handlebars of his bike to my cottage.  We would play Al Green and slow dance, smoke more cigarettes and kiss.   He would tell me stories about his childhood in Texas.  He would tell me that he loved me.  He would pass out.

 

He had to get up early to work construction and I remember the smell of cigarettes and alcohol from the night before, mixed in with the sweet smell of the jasmine flowers that covered the door and gate to my cottage.  When we would see each other the next evening at the restaurant he would often ignore me, as if nothing happened.  And I would be tortured.  And then we would do it again.

 

Those years were intense for me.  I had broken up with my first love by badly breaking his heart.  I found out my Dad was dying.  I discovered Feminism.  I was 19 and I felt 100.

 

I forced myself to get a nice boyfriend who treated me well, who had his drivers license.  Who wasn’t an alcoholic.  Who I cared for but wasn’t in love with.  We moved to the City after I graduated and I started the next chapter of my life.

 

Many years later I would write songs about Mike.  “Fool Like You” went like this:

“Ride me on your handlebars

Your two-wheel limousine

Bottle in your pocket

Your broken enemy

My heart’s already breaking and I’m falling to my knees

Lost hopes, skinned palms and dirty company

And you said, What am I doing with a fool like you?”

He used to tell me I was too good for him.  When we would slow dance, he would kiss me on the forehead and call me a fool.  I knew he was right.  I also knew that the whole world could disappear at that moment and I didn’t care.  I was happy.

I called him when my band, Drugstore Soul, recorded our first CD and told him the song, “Into You” was about him and that I would send him a copy.  It was the last time I would hear his voice.

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I found out that he died tragically doing construction on Valentine’s Day, at age 42.  He never had kids that I know of.  And he is one reason I know for sure that you can love someone, they can love you and life just has another plan for you.

“The cool room, Lord is a fool’s room”-Van Morrison, T.B. Sheets

 

 

 

On Bad First Dates

True confession-once I realized how much fun it was to talk on Facebook and at the salon about my bad first dates, I sort of started to look forward to them.  Not that I would seek out ill-fitting Suitors mind you.  I just knew that my friends and clients would be entertained.  Of all my bad first dates, this one took the cake.

I arrived at the restaurant first and waited outside.  I spotted him parking his white, American car and could tell from his swagger towards me, this gentleman was not “the one”.  He had a Bluetooth in his ear as well as two phones on his gadget belt and the Khakis were ill-fitting.  Tight, navy golf shirt, belt up too high on his waist, spiky hair gelled to the point of no motion, high testosterone.  How did I end up in this position, you might ask? Doesn’t a Hipster girl screen out guys like this?  When I hastily got back into internet dating the second time around, I forgot my basic rules, one being don’t have a meal as a first date.  And he was my first date back on the market so, we sat down to eat.

Upon being seated, he did a chiropractic adjustment/back crack in the chair that was so violent I had to ask, “What was that?  Are you OK?” and he proceeded to tell me that he was on his way to the Chiropractor after lunch. I took the bait,  asked why.  He asked if I knew the difference between Tennis Elbow and Golfers Elbow, which I did not.  He has Golfers Elbow and went on to explain the intricacies and how hard it was for him to continue to play.  Upon which I naively asked, “Maybe this is a dumb question but can’t you just switch arms?”. This was so offensive to him that he raised his voice and told me that that was like asking me if I can just switch hands to cut hair.  “Well, I  get your point but I don’t cut hair… I’m a Colorist.”  Silence.

When it came time to order he asked me what kind of coffee I drink.  I said, “I like Americanos, how about you?”. He said that he can only drink drip coffee now since getting the INTESTINAL PARASITE.  Oh?

So, how would YOU respond my friends?

A) um, gross (change the subject)

B) I guess you should have a drip coffee

C) Tell me more!

Now, you know from my personality that of course, I chose C.

So, apparently he got an Intestinal Parasite and his main concern was how it affects your protein absorption. For muscle building.  So he worked out extra-hard he explained and then, really-I swear, flexed his muscles for me and said, “I am still ripped though”.

As lunch went on he told me about his crappy childhood (mean Dad), his crappy divorce (took his money), his crappy last job (revolving door salesman, for real) and all the politics of having to “manage up” because of his crappy boss.  After answering a few work calls he HAD to take during our date, he asked me if I minded him telling me all this and I said, “No, go on!  My Mom is a Therapist.”  What that has to do with anything I am not sure but it felt like the right thing to say.

Online dating is not for everyone.  If you are very sensitive, easily offended or have your hopes up high with each date you may struggle.  We all have so little time.  There are hundreds and hundreds of potential candidates for you so it’s important to carefully screen from the get go.

 

Unless you are me and you want a good story.

 

Footnote-last I checked, he is still single.

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And so was this guy.  Go figure.

 

For tips on how not to date a clown, stay tuned for the pending entry, “On the 7 Types of Men You Will Meet Online”.