On-line Dating (Part 1)

As I began online dating a few years ago, I quickly realized I was going to have some trouble here in Northern California finding a match.  I am one of the few females in this neck of the woods who doesn’t: hike, bike, sail, climb, ski, snowboard, ride, surf, do yoga, drink wine, travel or lastly, attend Burning Man.  “Well, what DO you do?” I would often be asked.  Let’s see, I work. Take care of my kids.  Read.  Shop? Uh oh.

The difficult question for me to answer was, “What are you looking for?” which is the kindred Sister question of, “What do you actually have time for?”.  I struck out at these inquiries for quite awhile too.  I am in a very small minority within the category of Single Mothers in that I have my kids 100% of the time and I am also the 100% breadwinner for my offspring.  I have no free weekends, free nights, weeks off-you get the point.  So what was I looking for?  That took awhile to figure out but what I found in the process is that there are 8 types of men in online dating here in the beautiful Bay Area:

1. Helmet Guy

This is the most abundant type of man you will meet here in Northern California.  He loves to run, cycle (mountain or road although you learn there is a BIG difference in gear alone), ski, snowboard (but not both probably because he specializes), race, surf, kite board, wake board and whatever other sport they will invent next.  This guy is almost always looking for an “activity partner” to be sporty with.  Men like doing things with their dates so this is not an unnatural request.  I get it.  But, unfortunately my main source of exercise these days is drying my clients hair so this was not a match.

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2. Torso Guy

This guy just shows his upper body to give you a taste of his physique.  As you can see, it isn’t always amazing but hey-at least you know what he’s got.  He is only showing his torso because he just wants sex or wants to remain anonymous because maybe he is in a relationship?  Not sure.

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(Note-the above correspondence was his actual message to me.  Hot, right?)

3. Sailboat Guy

He drinks wine, wears his sweater around his neck, might even belong to a Country Club.  “Tennis anyone?” He is usually pictured on his boat at the helm.  He is looking for a “lady” to go to Napa on weekends with.  There is also a more rugged version of the Sailboat Guy which could be it’s own subcategory and that would be The Fisherman.  He is always shown holding a big fish, presumably that he caught.

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4. Tech Guy

Very, very common especially in SF is the guy who moved here to work in tech.  It’s the new Gold Rush and these guys are here to “explore all SF has to offer”.  Make no mistake, this is not to be confused by the “Work Hard Play Harder” guy who somewhat crosses all categories.  (That’s the most common descriptor men use for themselves.)  Tech guy works hard indeed but in his free time is into finding cool restaurants, live music and has only heard of Marin (where I live).  Tech guy is probably my most favorite type because he likes to text a lot, he’s well read and curious but he has two major drawbacks.  He has ROOMMATES and NO CAR.

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5. Berkeley Guy

This is my least compatible type.  He does yoga, rides his bike only because you shouldn’t have a car. Doesn’t want to date out of his zip code because it’s bad for the carbon footprint. He is often almost as smug as Seminar Guy (another sub category that crosses genres) who is a capital-A Asshole but goes to workshops at Esalen once a year so feels alright about it all.  He accepts himself. Berkeley Guy likes me (hippie name, minimal make-up) until he finds out I work with chemicals and alter women’s appearances for a living.

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6. Harley Guy

He’s a modern Cowboy really, with all his motorcycles instead of horses.  He’s almost always featured riding one proudly.  He is a throwback to a Bay Area before all the tech money came.  He often has a mustache.

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(Note-one site I was on for a long time does not use your real name and it was always fun to see what name was chosen for oneself.  Hotwhiz69…wonder what that meant?)

7.  Burning Man Guy

This can be a sneaky one to discern because in a lot of pictures, he looks like a regular guy but wait for it.  Keep looking at his pictures because there is always that one that gives him away.  The picture where he is in front of the Temple at “La Playa”.  He has a distinct sparkle in his eye.  He’s definitely looking for a kindred, adventurous spirit.  I even met one who called himself a “Bliss Pimp”.  I have a lot of brilliant and amazing friends who attend Burning Man and I am happy it is there for them.  It’s just not for me at this time so I am not the girl for this guy.

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8.  Last but not least, Giants Guy

He is always at a game.  It can be the 49ers or the Raiders or the Giants or the A’s or the Warriors.  He is in pictures with his buddies, holding a beer or a kid.  He is a fan.  Fun for him revolves around sports.  We have amazing teams here so he is always busy!

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Ladies, it’s not a lost cause.  There will be that guy who defies categorization or maybe crosses categories and isn’t as easily summed up as I have made it seem here.  Men have horrible things to say about us too.  It’s now common practice to heckle women for their come-hither cleavage pics, duckface selfies, yoga poses on a mountain and relaxed pictures with our cats.

As the late, great Mike Mitchell once said, “There is an ass for every seat.”  He was a Race Car Driver and a Plumber.

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On Purpose

It’s my birthday Tuesday and I will be 44.    I always take some time to self-reflect this time of year.  Ask myself the hard questions like, how am I doing?  Am I where I want to be?  Am I who I want to be? How has this year been?  What do I need to work on?

Nothing in my life has worked out as planned except maybe graduating college and getting pregnant.  I meant to be an Actress, I meant to be a Rockstar, I meant to be rich and famous.  None of that has happened.  A spiritual teaching I learned many years ago is that my mind’s eye is limited.  Therefore, it MAY BE that whatever is in store for me could end up being quite different than what I wanted or dreamed and that it was going to be OK.  Perfectly imperfect.

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I planned to have natural childbirth, no drugs.  After 18 hours of labor, that didn’t happen.  I planned to give birth, start working out again, go back  to my job and band and keep it rolling.  Get a record deal, carry the baby in the guitar case.  Instead, I gave birth and my heart cracked open and I changed completely and unexpectedly.  I held my son and thought, I don’t care about anything but this.  Since this big change was not in my plans, I was so disappointed in myself.  I had no Plan B.  I ditched the band, quit the job, moved cross country to be closer to my family, got pregnant again, got divorced, changed careers.  All the while staying true to my instincts and learning to listen.

In those years of intense change, I learned not to be so pig-headed.  I learned to listen to people when they shared their experiences and cautioned me against certain decisions.  I used to assume that when people gave me advice, they were projecting.  That they didn’t know me.  That I knew better.  I never had a Plan B because to create one would have meant allowing the possibility of failure.

I was humbled out of that mindset when I became a Mother.  I became one with humanity in a whole new way and I no longer felt like an alien. I am a Mother, one of millions just trying to raise good humans.

That’s how I found my purpose.

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For these years, with children under my roof, I am clear on what I am doing.  It isn’t what I thought it would be like and I love it.  I don’t know what my purpose will become once they are on their own and no longer need the same guidance, financial support and care.  I am confident I will have a new purpose and I will be happy with a new direction.  These years are precious though.  They matter a whole lot.

I used to wonder how people who had all the money in the world could be so unhappy.  Who am I kidding?  I still do.  Maybe some struggle for self-reliance and forced resourcefulness really does build character.  I say, if you don’t know what your purpose is figure it out!  Keep looking until you find it.  Even the search for your purpose is a worthwhile quest.  I can honestly say I am grateful things didn’t work out like I planned.  It’s all perfect.  Perfectly imperfect.

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On Halloween

I have always had the special gift of being overly confident.  I believe it is this special gift that led me to many years of delusional Halloween costumes.  I would leave the house in a simple prairie dress as “Rapunzel” only to go home soon after asking my Mom to make me a name tag so people would stop asking me what I was.  I was Rapunzel!  Couldn’t you tell from my not very long, stringy regular hair?

I may never know if my delusional Halloween costumes were endorsed by the adults around me because:

a) They were so stoned they thought it was funny.

b) I was such a convincing Salesperson that they believed me?

Take for example, the picture below.

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What was I, you might ask?  I was a Weightlifter.  Obviously.  Not sure if what gives it away is the abalone star pin, fake pearl choker or makeup under the eyes?  My  two friends with “normal” parents who went to school as clowns probably gave me the idea to try that out.  So, the next year I attempted a clown costume but again I am not sure who decided that it was legitimate???

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Pretty much nothing really says “Clown” about this except the white face paint.

70s kids had to make their own costumes.  We didn’t have Toys R Us to go to and select a plastic mask and plastic accessories from.  There was no Power Ranger or Cinderella kit so we were forced to be creative.  Determined not to have my own kids suffer, I let them buy pre-made costumes.  This is my kids in store bought but recognizable costumes.

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This gift of delusional self-confidence led to a lifetime of Halloween disappointments (not to mention, relationship failures and also big career successes).  Even in college, I was still imagining myself as something unrecognizable.

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Here (on the left) I thought I was a dead wringer for Olivia Newton John in Grease but no, not one person guessed it.

And then, I had a turning point.  A life changing moment that helped shape the next decade and perhaps more.  I went as “It’s Pat” from Saturday Night Live.

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Not only did I dress up as “It’s Pat” but I made my best friend dress up as Pat’s partner Chris and we showed up to wait tables in costume at our very sexy restaurant job.  Our very sexy restaurant job was the kind of place that hired for looks, not necessarily talent.  We all wore the tiniest of skirts and tops and made great money.  The typical Halloween costume was something sexy.  Sexy Nurse, Sexy Kitten, Sexy Construction Worker.

Two things happened for me in being highly recognizable and highly androgynous.  One was, I felt completely liberated from femininity in a way I never had and never have since.  The other was that I caught a glimpse of what it is to be famous.  Everywhere we went that night, people shouted at us.  “Pat, Pat!!!” They would yell questions at us.  “Pat, what bathroom are you going to use?” trying to get us to reveal if we were male or female.  I shouted back, “I don’t have to go to the bathroom!” and we’d keep running.  It was bizarre and thrilling and helped cement my decision to choose my next step in life which was to pursue my dream of Acting.

That was also delusional but I believe you need to be a little crazy and a lot confident to move to NYC with a suitcase, no friends, no money and no connections.  So I did.

 

 

 

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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