Chasing Perfection

How many women err on the side either of caution or of recklessness when we begin new relationships?

Venus & Mars Dance

I was speaking to my dear friend, Red, yesterday and we identified our initial list of potential sure to fail strategies we have either executed ourselves or seen our friends and family undertake in their pursuit of happiness. Our list grew throughout the day as she polled her vast Facebook army. By the end of the day there were so many it will be impossible to address them all individually!

There were some common themes though, in no particular order (yet) here are the top deal killers.

  1. Giving up our own life (family, friends and interests)
  2. Playing mind games (manipulation)
  3. Carrying our baggage into the new relationship (matching luggage though might be fine)
  4. Suffocating the new relationship or person
  5. Nagging
  6. Chasing Perfection (are any of us perfect)
  7. Lack of Ambition or Sacrificing Ambition
  8. Money Honey (keeping some of our own)
  9. Beginning a new relationship to soon
  10. Not being our authentic selves
  11. Moving too fast (sex, I love you and all that jazz)
  12. Not hearing what is said (Listening with our ears instead of our notions)
  13. Failing at trust and failing to trust
  14. Talking about the previous relationship or ex ad infinitum
  15. Trying to change ourselves, worse trying to change him

Number 1 on the hit parade seems to be ….Chasing Perfection

AKA

Building the Perfect Mate in Your Mind and Leaving no Room for Adjustment

It is my suspicion that many of the others fall under this one. Nevertheless, to start the ball rolling let’s explore our propensity to build our Dream Man, our Perfect Mate and our seemingly constant desire to mold our latest and greatest into that icon of flawlessness.

The Faceless Prince

When we are little girls we dream of our wedding day, we have a picture in our mind of what we will wear, how many attendants we will have and even what colors we will use. We see the groom standing at the front of the church in our fantasy wedding; usually he is one big tuxedo with a blank face. As we enter our teen years our imagined wedding matures with us, of course. We now have access to greater fodder to fill our minds, including the blank that is our future groom. No longer is his face blank, no indeed now he looks like our latest crush either the school hunk or the latest movie idol to hit the market. We sigh; we sign our names on multiple pages of our notebooks “Mrs. TwiddleTwaddle”.

Eventually we grow up, we reach some magical age of maturity where we recognize that Sir TwiddleTwaddle is unlikely to sweep us off our feet and marry us; or do we? Indeed, it is almost certain most of us have not only by now filled in the blank face of our childhood

Princess Bride Forever (image)

but have also made a list of attributes we require of our future mate, some of which may be non-negotiable. In keeping with the idea that we have defined our perfect mate, identified all his required characteristics, filled every last portion of his personality with our desires, I must ask is there any man that will fulfill our wish list? Will we always be settling in our heart and mind for ‘less than’? Is this what any man who enters our sphere of influence has to look forward to when they hope for a relationship with us? Really, are we always going to be this hard to please or have we left some room in there for our future mate to be their own authentic selves and for us to be happy they are there without equivocation?

There are certainly some things that are non-negotiable or should be at least. From the very beginning of a relationship we should be able to nix any of the following as deal breakers:

  1. Abuse of any kind – kick this one to the curb immediately and without thinking twice if he is verbally abusive it will without doubt escalate eventually. Run; don’t walk to the nearest exit.
  2. Liars – if someone will lie to you early in a relationship, whether on the big stuff or the small stuff, they will always lie to you. See the exit sign over the door, yes the one that is flashing red; make your way to it and leave now.
  3. Cheaters – if you agreed between you to exclusivity and he failed during the early days of your relationship, he won’t change. Forgive him, sure it is always nice to be forgiving nevertheless, get out he isn’t going to stop cheating.

Those are my own hot spots, there are surely more and likely others can add theirs.

The real point is though; men and women are imperfect in their design. If we have built up our perfect mate there will be no one who will measure up, no opportunity for us to explore our options and find that person that just might be perfect for us rather than simply perfect. If we shut the door there will be no opportunity for us to find that future mate that brings their life lessons and experiences, ones that balance ours and help us to live more fully together than apart. If we fail to open the door to imperfection we lose our chance at future love.

More on common themes in future posts, for now I think I will end this with one other thought; when we find that imperfect possibility and our first thought is how we can change them we have already lost.

It might be Love

I have been with the same man since 1997. In fact, we are coming up to the anniversary of our first meeting in a couple of months. Our relationship has seen days of great excitement and joy; we have also faced days that have tested our resolve to remain together. When we met, I suspect the last thing on either of our minds was a relationship, certainly not with each other, two people could not have been more different and neither of us were looking for anything permanent at the time.

Some of our differences are obvious to the naked eye –

  • We are a mixed race couple
    • What might not be obvious is he is from the Bahamas
  • We have an age gap, I am older
    • What might not be obvious is I am 19 years older

Most people bet against us, some still do. I think if you had asked me back when we married in 1999, I would have also. Some of the less obvious differences we have, those things that you read about in magazines and other tomes of wisdom —

  • Education
    • I now have a Masters, he stood by me while I studied nights and weekends ripping my hair out and weeping it was too hard.
  • Religion
    • He was raised in a very religious home, brought up in church with a strong faith. I am at best an educated pragmatist.
  • Finances and Career
    • I had an established career at the time we married. It has seen some ups and downs over the years though and he has toughed it out with me.

We met when I was on vacation with a girlfriend. When we met, we had much to overcome, including my ongoing very nasty divorce, maintaining a long-distance relationship and of course the judgment of other people. People who look at us and think there are ulterior motives for our pairing, simply don’t realize the hurdles or the difficulties of our early days.

Two of those motives attributed to my husband by others were:

  • Obtaining a Green Card / Citizenship
  • Money / Wealth (mine)

 

 

 

The primary ulterior motive attributed to me was what is always on everybody’s mind when an older woman and a younger man pair…….

Socially we faced some uphill battles, I am certain many can guess the types and but not  the magnitude of the mêlées, especially once we married. For most of our marriage, we have lived in Texas, though we did make a foray into Virginia for two years. Suffice to say society hasn’t always been welcoming; people have been quick to pass judgment. There are those who remain stuck in their archaic views regarding miscegenation, though I am of the opinion that we are of the same race since last I checked we are both human. There have been times bigotry has been openly on display, mostly in the small town where my parents retired to and we often visited. There are other times where small minded people have wrapped their prejudice in the blanket of their professed Christianity, trying to justify their bigotry with the Bible, I have been appalled and amused at the same time.  I have received hate-mail, seen blog posts on the subject and even had comments directed at me over the years on several different social media sites. I try hard to be open minded about the ignorance on display, after all some people are not able to overcome their own witless and pedantic views.

There are some, even in my own family that are locked into the idea that he could not possibly want me for anything other than my riches and have gone so far as to insult him directly. If they only knew the battles we fought early in our marriage to keep our head above water, paying debt from my divorce and struggling through a year of my unemployment. Though we don’t talk about our arrangements, we keep our money separate; what is his is his and what is mine is mine. Of course I earn more because I have been in the workforce longer and he benefits from that, which is far different from the ‘Sugar Mama’ everyone seems to believe I am.

We will celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary this year. Has it been all hearts and flowers? Absolutely not! In fact, our cultural differences sometimes create gorges we have difficulty navigating.  He comes from culture that tends to be more male dominated, more machismo; we butt heads frequently. We are not what we expected we would marry, not what we pictured we would have as a mate yet here we are. There are times we still struggle to find our footing with each other and within our marriage, yet here we are and I find I still like him a great deal most days. When people ask what drew me to him the only answer I can give besides his great smile is this; my husband is by far the most ethical man I know. Despite we are polar opposites on many levels we balance each other.

This past week my husband became a citizen of the United States of America. I wasn’t there, it wasn’t by design I wasn’t there and it wasn’t the first time I missed something important. We didn’t know he would go straight from the interview to his swearing in, I would have been there had we known. Still I wasn’t there; this is a common theme in our marriage. My work causes me to miss many important dates; birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day all of them have been missed more than once. He remembers each one I miss and reminds me. But more importantly my husband is now a Citizen after all these years, I wonder what the naysayers to our marriage will say now, I can hear them whispering in the corridors already.

Whispers……

He doesn’t need her any more, will he stay?

Free Bird

Twenty years, that was the entire sentence of Anthony, the youngest of my offenders. Twenty years it seems like yesterday, it isn’t though; it is approximately 7,200 days, 172,800 hours, 10,368,000 minutes.

During this same twenty years, most of us would have worked approximately 4,800 days and 40,000 hours.

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I bring this up because it is important, Anthony will be released without supervision on March 13, 2012. Without supervision, means he has served his sentence, paid his debt to society, done his time, thus owes nothing to anyone else and can walk out of the Texas prison system a free man. I ponder this and can honestly say I disagree with the States assessment. He still owes me and mine!

I wish I could feel differently, well maybe I don’t really wish for this. Here is the truth of the matter, Anthony was fifteen when he followed his cousin and a friend into carjacking and attempted murder. By all accounts prior to this act, he wasn’t a bad kid, unfortunately, he was wrapped up into bad acts that nearly cost me my life and certainly cost him. He will be thirty-seven years old, a man grown but with no social skills and by all accounts no education, no work skills; fully institutionalized by the twenty years he has spent in the Texas prison system. He didn’t have to choose this, he was given options that would have seen him out in five years, this was his choice.

At no time during his sentence has he taken advantage of the education options open to him. At no time has he ever gone to the prison Chaplin or the Victim Impact counselor and asked to contact me to apologize for his acts. He will walk free, clearly not remorseful. He will walk free, without skills or support. He will walk free after twenty years inside the walls, fully institutionalized, undoubtedly angry and blaming society rather than himself for the conditions of his life.

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How do I know these things? I ask, every single time he comes up for parole I ask the same questions in my letters to the Parole Board, I ask. My conditions for parole are the same; my questions are always the same. How can you consider parole for an unrepentant, unprepared offender? How can you consider parole for an offender who has spent his time doing nothing but blame the victim and society? What will his actions be once within society again?

Though I was prepared for this letter, knew it was coming still my heart beat faster and my eyes blurred with unshed tears. Only twenty years, that is all for my life? Every time I think, I am beyond my original fury, beyond asking that single question, why; I find myself directly back in the path of red hot rage. In fact there are times I am barely able to put

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coherent thought to my feelings, they simply exist in that part of my brain that is not fully civilized.

Twenty years for my life, is this a fair trade? Anthony has spent his youth and grown to manhood in the Texas prison system. He has never touched a woman. He hasn’t married nor had children. He has never held a job, earned a living. He hasn’t owned a car or bought a home. Because of one stupid decision on his part all of the things most of us take for granted, he has forgone every choice he might have had about his life. Anthony is one year older than my eldest son, who has all of those things. Anthony is one year younger, nearly to the day, than my husband; who also has had all of these things.

Twenty years, for my life, I wonder if Anthony thinks this has been a fair trade.

Staying in Bed

There are simply days when you don’t want to get out of bed, feed the dog, pet the cat or say hello to the world.

There are days when it feels as if you have been kicked in the shins one to many times and frankly, your knees hurt!

I am having one of those days today, my knees hurt. So does my back, my neck, hell even my fingers hurt. Now I don’t usually complain, certainly I don’t complain about all the things on my body that hurt me. I don’t complain about all the things that don’t work any longer. I don’t complain about all the things that don’t move the way they are supposed to move or in the direction they are supposed to go. Well, perhaps that isn’t entirely true, there are some people that hear what hurts, I hope not too often though.

There are some days when it just seems I shouldn’t have to get out of bed. In fact the only reason I do is I need coffee, a smoke and if I don’t move I am afraid I might never do so again.

I have had a particularly bad month. It happens this way sometimes when you work for yourself, but this month has simply been particularly bad. I know I am good at what I do, I am not inflexible or hard to get along with – this month I have been accused of both, by a customer no less! I do not use my hidden disability for special treatment; in fact I keep it to myself (the reason for the second accusation) unless asked and pay the price. I tell people what they need to know and only what they need to know so they understand why I do certain things and can’t do others.

While there is a three-month history leading up to the loss of two customers, two projects, actually nearly a twenty-year history now, for some reason this is hitting me hard. I am questioning myself, my abilities, my capabilities and even whether I have the wherewithal to continue on the road I have set for myself.

There are some days when I just want to stay in bed; today is one of those days. I think this week has been one of those weeks.

There are some days when I feel more than justified that I haven’t forgiven those that did so much harm to me, to my body. Days like today when I know every single day for the rest of my life I will hurt and I will have to demand of myself that I get out of bed and convince myself it is worth it, because it is better to live with pain than not to live at all.

Then I think, but I don’t have an income because I lost two projects, not because I am bad at my work but because my body gave out, again. Because I couldn’t work within the travel constraints a client placed; of course had they told me up front I wouldn’t have taken the project in the first place and I wouldn’t be in this position, but that is a different issue all together. I lost one project because someone rear-ended me and what someone else would have likely walked away from I received significant injury and had weeks of treatment for.

There are days, sometimes weeks when I wonder if survival is all it is cracked up to be.

There are some days that simply suck.

Flying with Children

I find myself sitting in airport lounge areas frequently. They are mostly the same, though some of the newer airports have upgraded their lounge areas with massage chairs, Wi-Fi, conversation nooks and other things to make the wait not quite so tedious. I don’t care about any of these things; give me a chair close to the boarding area with a view of those who I will be flying with, that is my only requirement. Sounds odd doesn’t it? I have my reasons.

Ill Mannered Imps and their Minders

Scanning the airport lounges allows me to identify the worst of the worst, out-of-control children. These children usually between the ages of four and ten who have failed to learn basic social skills. They scream, throw their toys, demand attention from their parents and strangers. They run through the lounge tripping over carry-on bags and even tripping other travelers as they attempt to navigate the terminal and the lounge. Their voices are akin to nails on blackboards as they screech their demands.

They are not angels. They are not sweet cherubs. They are YARD APES. Their parents often have that faraway look, one seen usually on soldiers returning from war or victims of crime. It is these imps of destruction that can and usually do ruin trips for at least those in their immediate vicinity on a plane. They kick the back of seats; they twist and turn, look over at their neighbors with ugly faces, talk to neighbors unceasingly, throw food and otherwise act in ways that prove children are born horrifyingly unmannered.

Worse than the children though are the parents who fail to take those urchins of the netherworld under control.

One of my favorites –

I had boarded the plane from Brussels to Houston, it’s a long trip but I had upgraded to first class and so I was looking forward to a somewhat pleasant flight. This was long before the time of beds in first class and better food. I was in seat 1A, bulkhead window. Suddenly, oh no my worst nightmare a woman sits down beside me with a small child, small as in approximately 18-months. Her husband takes the seat across the aisle. Thinking I was being kind, I offered him my seat so they could be together during the flight, no they said they had planned it this way so he could work during the flight without being disturbed. What?

The mother plans on holding her child throughout the nine hour flight, in the meantime the child is on the floor playing while the announcement to prepare for take-off is blaring. Flight attendants walk through the aisles not once, not twice but four times telling this mother to pick up her child so we can take off. Each time she does the child shrieks and the mother puts her back on the floor, finally I offer to hold her so she can look out the window, which solves the problem, she doesn’t shriek we take off and all is quiet in first class. Does mom offer to take the child back? Well no, in fact when drink service begins she and dad order drinks and start chatting while their infant calmly stays on my lap. I had to tap her on the shoulder and hand the bad baby back explaining that they made the decision to not buy a seat or bring a nanny with them, they had the responsibility to entertain and keep their child quiet and if it disrupted their travel, tough.

It was a miserable flight! Screaming, diaper changes and other disgusting disruptions (Dad wasn’t bothered though).

This is one of the reasons I firmly believe children under the age of fourteen do not belong in First Class, ever and under any circumstance.

I have many other stories of the misery of travel which I will share from time to time. Some are children in the air. Some are simply horrible airline service. Hope you will join me in my travels around the world.

Whats Love Got to Do With It?

The dress is back from the cleaners packed in a box for some future when your daughter will say, “Mom it is so old fashioned I want to pick my own dress”. The pictures framed and scattered throughout your first home. The thank you notes are written to all the kind people who provided you with blenders, toasters and other small appliances you have yet to return or figure out uses for. Your tan is fading and frankly, it is time to return to real life.

You’re married! That ring on your left hand announces to the world you are officially off the market. Do you wear your ring? Does your spouse where his / hers, if not why not?

The strangeness of married life, even for long-term couples takes some adjustments. People may treat you differently now. During the early days of your marriage, you may find yourself resenting some of questions that come your way, such as;

How about joining us for a few beers after work tonight? Why don’t you call your husband / wife to make sure it is okay with them?

What? You’re an adult; you don’t need permission have a couple of beers after work. Think though, is this simple phone call asking permission or is it common courtesy extended to your spouse.

Another thing you may find happening is you aren’t invited to the boys / girls night out events you were once part of. Now that you are part of a married couple, your single friends may not feel comfortable inviting you. Perhaps these events were ‘hunting’ expeditions and now that you are off the market, your presence isn’t as welcome as it once was.

Yes, some of your friends may drop away. Don’t worry you will make other friends. Married friends, you will meet them over time and form new bonds. Some of your single friends of course will remain and as they pair up their new partners will join the elite circle of Married.

So what does love have to do with all of this? Marriage is the choice we make to bond with that one person who makes our heart race and feel at peace all at the same time. Despite our personal idiosyncrasies, despite our flaws we make the choice to live with, fight with, love with this single person for our lifetime.

Love has everything to do with it!

We agreed, even if we didn’t understand how marriage would change us, we knew we wanted to be with this person. We agreed we were going to walk side-by-side for our lifetime, even if we didn’t understand that there would be some unplanned loss of ‘independence’. Love has everything to do with our choice and everything to do with how we conduct ourselves from here forward. Love informs our actions, every day of our married life; whether it is a great day or a bad day love informs our choices and decisions.

While I believe there are always compromises, they are not compromises of self nor are they sacrifices. Love has everything to do with how successful marriages are made and sustained over time. Love of self and love of our partner. Once the bliss of the wedding is behind us the scales fall from our eyes, we discover marriage is hard work. Putting the person we love in front of us as  we make decisions, helps us to make informed decisions that are good for our marriage and prevent us from reverting to the selfish behavior and decision-making of our single life.

Marriage is hard sometimes; Love is Easy.

Tales from the Air

Farts on the Airplane

There is probably nothing worse than someone with uncontrollable gas in the tight confines of an airplane. Certainly they are embarrassed by their overactive digestive track and their own stupidity at eating foods that would cause their active flatulence.

Let me give some advice. There are some foods that lend themselves to greater amounts of flatulence than others. This is due to the types of sugars they contain, the body CANNOT effectively break these sugars down and thus they produce gas which travels to your nether regions ultimately producing noxious fumes. If you know you will be flying, do yourself and your fellow passengers a favor avoid these foods!

Beans, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Raisins, Milk (especially for those with lactose intolerances) and yes the all-important BEER.

Elbows and other Sharp Objects

I once had a man (not what you are thinking you are so dirty minded) seated next to me in those big comfy First Class Seats. This man must have seen that I was more blessed than the average woman with pair of breasts that might be the envy of a Playboy Centerfold. Perhaps in his fevered fantasy he believed this meant they were public property, since they took more space than was normal. Whatever the case may be, I once had a man and he had a plan.

Our flight to Dallas was looking to be a long one, with plenty of turbulence and stormy skies. I had already taken my seat, 1B aisle bulkhead left side of the plane. When he arrived he first glared at me, as if to say; “what are you doing in this section of the plane?” Admittedly, back then there were few women flying in First during what was considered the Friday specials, business flights back to Dallas on American. Add to this I was already in my standard Jeans, cowboy boots and tee. But then my Man with a Plan noticed my assets and his gears turned. He sat his happy self down, pulled out his Wall Street Journal leaned to the right, taking more than half our ample arm rest as his own, and ordered his Scotch and Soda before take-off. Then the fun begin……….

Turn page one, right hand grabs page turns and shakes landing squarely against the edge of my breast. I think nothing of it. A few minutes go by and time to turn the next page; oddly the exact same action produces the same result. “Excuse me, my breast isn’t public property and your attention isn’t welcome. Would you mind keeping your elbow on your side of the arm rest and your hands to yourself, please”, said as nice as possible and looking directly at the Man with the Plan. He smirked, moved slightly to the left and started reading again. A few more minutes pass (he reads slowly) and the same exact thing happens, fortunately the two gentlemen across the aisle see it this time, so when I turn and tapped him and said, ‘The next time you touch my breast I am going to break your ribs and it will be self-defense’, they concurred. Again he smirked and this time he didn’t move.

Five more minutes, he readies himself for another page turner and a free feel. I ready myself as well, I am watching for him how. He turns the page and this time takes a slow linger down the side of my left breast as if daring me to follow through with my threat. Boy did he challenge the wrong Texas girl, I pulled back my elbow and delivered a blow to his ribs that knocked the wind from his lungs and bent him over in his seat. When he could breathe again the first thing he did is push the call button and when he Flight Attendant arrived he demanded the police meet the plane in Dallas and arrest me for assault. She asked me what had occurred and I explained the situation. She asked the nice gentlemen across the aisle what they had seen and their story agreed with mine. She offered him a choice;

  1. She could have the police meet the plane and he would be arrested. I might be also, but it is likely the charges would be dropped against me.
  2. He could change seats with someone and forget the entire incident assuming I was willing to do so and someone was willing to change seats with him.

He took option two and the rest of the flight was quite pleasant. He called me a Bitch as he was moving his bags, I agreed.

Thus we have two tales of many of my time in the air. Farts on a plane, well that is on-going and frequent. Elbows that is a true story from about ten years ago.

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