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Friday, June 26, 2009

My Personal Singlution

Before I started this blog in January of this year, I had spent the 10 months prior in my own personal hell. It was a hell of transformation and while I did not survive unscathed, I did survive it.

I'm not a religious person but I am a faithful one and I put a lot of my hopes and dreams into things I can't see or touch. I have faith that I am doing the right thing, that I will be led in the right direction, that people are inherently good and seek to do good. I had faith in my pursuit of an acting career, in starting over in a new city, in saving trees, in telling stories through film, in my friends which I consider my family. Before last year, I'd lost faith in various causes, organization, processes (the government, for example) but never had a loss of faith cut so deep to the core of who I am. What was this crisis or crises? What is the story that led to the Singlution? There is no way in heck that I am able to recount that hell in a mere blog post. But what I can say is this:

I am a different person than I was a year and a half ago. I am a different woman than I EVER was. People keep growing and changing in tiny ways all the time but if you've ever experienced an avalanche in your life you'll know what it is to wake up one day and not know who you are. 

For many days I woke up and I couldn't recognize myself. Who was I without my sister? Who was I without my best friend? And what had happened to the man that I truly truly thought I was going to marry and had already sacrificed many aspects of myself for? And worst of all, what was I going to do with my life if I wasn't going to be an actor anymore? What was my calling and why did the calling that I had placed so much faith in seem to leave me high and dry? Why was I exhausted? Where was my enthusiasm and joy? What had happened to my youth?

These days I wake up and I've gotten used to the new me. I still feel heavier than I used to (both in my body and in my soul) but I know that in time that heaviness will transform into groundedness and I'll be back to my sprite-like ways. 

Tonight, I socialized for the first time since I became the Singlutionary and started writing this blog (at which time I finally began to understand the post-crisis me). I didn't think of this evening as a test in any way: I just knew that I had things on my calendar which I had committed to doing despite feeling rather ambiguous about them (as I do with most public interactions these days). If this evening were a test, however, I passed with flying colors which means is that I am getting confident in my own skin again, that I have gotten to know myself well enough to stand on my own two feet and not shake in my boots.

I attended two functions tonight. The first one you can read about below. The second one will have to wait for another post.

Function 1: A friend's birthday party. This friend actually lives in my neighborhood but we rarely see each other. We met through a group I led when I was still a realtor and our main common ground is environmentalism, mainly personal sustainability (not using throw away stuff, composting, recycling, etc). Little was I to know that there were three tests waiting for me at this event:

Test 1: Being surrounded by enviro people and not feeling alienated. 
I used to be a pretty hard core environmentalist. And then I lost faith in environmentalism. I still am an environmentalist except I no longer wear my green on my sleeve. I ignore a lot of bad things that go on in the world and try and do my best but I accept that I am a human being and that other people breathing and eating and farting on this earth are human beings as well. But the super-earth-conscious-crunchy-granola-activist community used to be MY community. I used to be one of them. And I'm not anymore. I always looked a little mainstream so sometimes I would see real hippies quietly passing judgement on me because I wasn't patchouli smelling enough to really understand. Oftentimes recently I've passed judgement on liberal enviro folks for what I consider to be uber-negative/never-good-enough thinking. 

There were plenty of moments tonight when I could have felt frustrated or where I could have passed judgement and thought "that kind of alienating attitude is what is holding us back". But instead I just thought: "Gosh, its good to be back with my people, hearing them talk about these things. Its good to remember those times and to know that this community still exists and that I am still here on the periphery of it. I enjoy the periphery."

Test Two: Sizing up Skinny Enviro Landscaper and then Letting Him Go
When I was more at the center of the environmentalist community, I was always trying to find a fellow treehugger for a mate. I thought we could get together and hug a tree so hard that we would conceive and give birth to our own tree offspring and be a true forest family. I was desperate to find someone who loved the earth as much as I did. And I acted crazy because of it. I let lots of hippie artist types freeload off my spirit, my money, my time all because I so desperately needed to be loved and acknowledged by the activist world. Anytime I met a guy who was single and who was an activist I fell in love with him. And they never liked me, never were interested in committing to me. The thing about activism is that it has its own culture of stars and status and since my job put me close to these heroes at the center, other people wanted to be close to me because through me, they could get access to these treehugging stars. Once, I thought this giant peace dove making artist was going to confess his love to me but instead he confessed his love of my boss to me. Lets just say that I never need to have that experience again. 

Tonight, when I found myself talking to a young-ish/seemingly unattached/possibly straight eco landscaper my old habits came back to me. I started sizing him up, trying to figure out if he might/possibly/maybe be interested in me, etc. And then I took a step back, looked at myself and laughed. What did I want with this skinny landscaper with bad posture who drinks smoothies every day and waxes on about the detriments of compostable disposable cups. Nothing. Nothing aside from pleasant conversation which for me was entirely nostalgic and enjoyable in-so-far that it never happen again. 

Test Three: Seeing the guy-I-though-was-bi (and was just plain ole gay).
I had an uber crush on this man when I first moved to this town. He looked like Jeff Goldblum. He was the interior designer for a restaurant I was working at and although years my senior, he was an artist (ahem. dysfunctional freeloader) and he could relate to me (ahem. immature). Anyways, I saw this guy come in and recognized him but at first I couldn't really put my finger on it. I thought he had skipped town or got sent to jail for a longer stint so I needed to be convinced that it was really him. He'd also aged in three years from looking 45ish to looking 50ish. And he is still hot and still charming and still throws off my gaydar completely.

In the past, I would have felt so humiliated by my previous attraction to this man and equally so angry at him for being such a self-centered dysfunctional in my life. But instead I was entertained. I doubted that he would recognize me and if he did I wasn't afraid to interact with him. But I did enjoy observing him and trying to see what clues I missed, not to his sexual orientation, but to his level of sanity/functioning. I decided to size him up and see what I saw in him now that I'm older and wiser. Conclusion: I can't blame myself for being attracted to him. But the red flag was in his posture. He is very tall, so its hard to notice but he betrays his confidence outward charm by a certain crookedness in the way he walks. Note to self: Start noticing posture when sizing up sanity levels in strangers.

So an event that could have beaten the stuffing out of me merely sent me home with several light observations which, although based on where I've been, should serve me well wherever I am going.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Singlutionary Sacrilegious Sabbath

I've posted before about my Secular Sabbath which I, unrebelliously, chose to observe on Sundays. I committed to observing a day free of shopping, plans or housework when I could be alone and rest and reflect on the rest of my week. 

Lately, my sabbath has been more of a Saturday thing, where I crash dead on the sofa all day and take long long naps after a marathon type week. Of course I also work on Saturdays, so the day isn't completely mine and the whole secular sabbath ritual is starting to go to hell-in-a-handbasket.

I'd like to continue to observe a Secular Sabbath on Sunday, not only because of the nifty way that sounds, but also because it is the only day that I consistently have off from work. I also, as a practical matter, wouldn't mind synching up my own secular day with my friend's holy day. 

But, unlike me, church-going Christians go to church on Sunday. They do actually set foot out of their homes and participate in some kind of a ritual with other people which is typically part observation and part participation.

What I am going to say next may be exceedingly offensive:

Last Sunday I observed my Sacrilegious Sabbath at the movie theatre. And I liked it. It didn't feel guilty or dirty or wrong. It felt just right. Because movies are my thing. I participate in making films and I find solace, comfort and community in watching films. I went alone in true Singlutionary style but there were others there. We sat in rows and although we did not know each other there was a sense that we were on a common journey, a common path as we watched the movie and lived the journey portrayed on the screen. 

I happen to live in a town with a very unique movie theatre. You pay admission just like any other movie theatre (I was delighted to observe that the price for the first screening on Sunday is $2 off the regular price just like it is on weekdays) but the seats, instead of having another row of seats in front of them have a low table that stretches down the row. There are menus and pens on the table and you write down an order for food and the waiter walks down an isle between each row of seats/tables to take the order and deliver food. The food is pretty good and they also serve drinks and deserts and fun special movie-themed items depending on what is currently screening. I have met the owners of this theatre, as they are involved in supporting the greater film community in my city, and they are people I feel good supporting with my Sabbath Spending. 

More importantly than the theatre itself is that I believe in telling stories. I think most movies are a load of poo but there are some which are really unique and touching and relevant and which inspire and comfort people. I believe that truly excellent stories told through film must be divinely guided and that this particular story was meant to be told. So for me, movies are not just entertainment, they are a calling, a passion and when done right, I believe they touch on something divine. 

So it is wonderfully appropriate for me to observe my Singlutionary Sacrilegious Secular Sabbath in the movie theatre. It makes sense. And the fact that I can do so without supporting a large corporation or watching bad advertising/trivia before the movie starts makes me feel entirely comfortable with this decision. 

Speaking of pre-preview programing, while I was waiting to watch Away We Go (which I thoroughly enjoyed despite the fact that it portrayed only couples), I saw the most bizarre music video from some decade LONG past. In fact, I am sure that this "music video" was created before the term "music video" was even coined and long before the advent of MTV or my birth (both MTV and I were created at about the same time). 

But the content of this particular music-video-from-the-pre-music-video-era will have to wait for my next post. I wish I could find the video itself and post it here because it is bizarre and funny and totally non-Singlutionary! And also impossible to take seriously. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dreaming of Vegetables

I am exhausted and I am craving vegetables. The new job seems to have an endless supply of free candy, soda and coffee which means that my entire diet last week consisted to those three items. Yesterday I crashed hard. Today I feel a little bit better.

Today, the only thing missing in my life is healthy food (and a shower and a clean house). But in my dream last night I dreamed that I was married. My in-laws had this duplex which was really kinda a duplex shack with all sorts of strange walls, etc. I thought we had our own place but when we went to go to bed it turned out that that there was another couple in the same room in another bed. I wasn't really bothered by all this closeness. What I was bothered by was the fact that I like to have sex. I drew the other female aside and tried to work out a deal with her (a la college dorm room style) that we each vacate the room for certain alternate periods to allow the other couple to have sex or we "do it super quiet". 

Ah. My waking life is so different. I woke up in my twin bed by myself. And my first thought was "gosh, I would feel a whole lot better if I ate some vegetables". 

Interestingly enough, my first thought was NOT "I am alone" or "I wish I had a husband" or "I want sex". That wasn't even my 2nd or 3rd thought or ANY thought yet this morning.

Yesterday, an IM suitor (you know, the ones who like to IM you when they get bored at work) left over from the match.com days inquired as to the reasons for my "sex hiatus". He seemed to think that I just hadn't met the right guy lately and all I needed was a dose of his manpowers and I'd give up on my sex hiatus forever. 

Its not that I don't have a sex drive. It IS that I don't want to intimately engage with anyone right now. I am still busy getting to know myself. So engaging with others is incredibly draining. I'd rather spend my energies (and limited free time) cooking or working on the house or swimming. I need to take care of myself and nurture myself right now and do activities which replenish my store of enthusiasm, charge up my passion batteries. And for some reason anytime I get involved with a new person (sexually or not) I end up giving a lot of myself to that new relationship. I think that this is just the nature of any new relationship. 

There will come a time when I am ready to re-engage with others and to enjoy new friendships and spend some time polishing the old ones. But that time hasn't come for me yet. I know this because every time I have tried to "get out there" and make new friends, I come home exhausted at my very core.

I have come to understand that as humans we have our own unique seasons. There are social seasons and then there are seasons of solitude. I suspect that in the past when we didn't have electric lighting and climate control, our internal seasons lined up more with the natural seasons. Winter was a time for solitude and reflection and summer was a time for socializing and connection and sharing. Obviously my seasons are all jacked up because its summer and I just want to be a hermit.

Although I am thriving at the new job which requires constantly meeting and connecting (in a professional manner) with new people. Maybe that is my big relationship for this summer. Who knows what next summer will bring.

Or maybe I am just simply a winter socializer with all the fruitcake and mulled wine and hot chocolate. 

Who knows. But I know enough by now to respect my own internal seasons and not to push myself in exhausting directions when I could be enjoying the comfort that solitude provides. 

And now, for the Cheesy Essay Questions Section:
What about you? What do you think about this concept of internal seasons? What kinds of things make solitude wonderful? What aspects of the social season do you most enjoy? 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Singlutionary Employment

For the first time in years, I have a full time job. For the first time in years, I do not work with total douche bags! I count myself super duper lucky.

Not only that, but today I realized how Singlutionary my job itself is. Let me provide some background on the new job: The job is in apartment management & leasing. I used to be a realtor, selling people homes, so this is a good transition for me. I get a steady paycheck but I still get to sell people homes, just apartments on lease instead of houses on a mortgage. 

I love love love my house. I realized this today. I don't have to pay a pet deposit. I'm not tied to a lease. I can paint the walls and plant a garden and I can park my car on the lawn and wash it. I change the oil in the driveway. None of these things are allowed at the apartment complex that I work at.

But I also miss living in an apartment. I miss the convenience, the simplicity. I miss NOT worrying about painting my walls or my garden or getting home in time to put the garbage out. I miss having a sense of community, of chit chatting with neighbors in the parking lot. I miss being around young single people.

Most folks who live in apartments in my city are young and single. Houses here are fairly cheap compared to other cities. So renters tend to be younger and childfree and single, more or less. 

This particular apartment complex is located in a part of town where fitness is king. There is a smoothie shop, bike shops, running shops and a big ole trail with plenty of eye candy in the vicinity. Its abs-a-go-go. And of course, its summer and everyone is working out their ultra buff bodies with the least clothing possible sticking to their sweaty frames. Kinda gross. Kinda awesome. 

Today, for hours, my sole view was of hot topless guys working out in the on-site fitness center. This is about as close to actual sex as I want to get these days and it counts as one of the major perks of my new employment.

Also, it appears that my co-workers are single. So far, neither one of them has mentioned a significant other. 

But the biggest change, aside from a regular paycheck, is that I'll be working with the public: The single, athletic, apartment renting public! There are fellow potential Singlutionaries everywhere. Because single people who can afford these apartments aren't sitting around waiting for a partner to provide them with the good life: They already have it. And single people who are so busy running the trail and swimming in the springs and biking the greenbelt aren't sitting around pining away for someone to make their life fun and healthy and exciting: It already is!  And if you're living the good life and enjoying your time in the city and on the lake, well, you're NOT going to be a desperate dater. Everywhere I turn there is Singlutionary (and fitness) inspiration. 

Which is not to say that just because you can't afford to live on the park, you're not Singlutionary material. There are Singlutionaries everywhere. But there are places that attract greater numbers of singles and places that attract greater numbers of people who are really living and enjoying their lives. The place I work is one of them. 

And, yeah, there is also free coffee/tea and soda AND a free massage chair. And a greenbelt view from the business center.

Oh bliss. Utter bliss. I work days in a bastion of Singlutionary-ness and I go home at night to my four bedroom house with the brightly painted rooms, chicken and vegetable filled backyard, an over 20lb dog who always gets dog hair all over the sofa. 

I truly have the best of both worlds!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Singlutionary Takes on Toilets (and Wins)!

My dear fellow blogger, Welsh Girl, just commented on my last post, wondering where I've been. I've been MIA for about a week now! What have I been up to? Is all well? Did I fall into one of the toilets I was replacing? What is happening with the Singlution? Have I abandoned my Singlutionary ship and ridden off into the sunset with the first studmuffin to cross my path?

Well, no, once a Singlutionary, always a Singlutionary. I have not abandoned the Singlution. To be honest, no articulate studmuffins have crossed my path lately either so temptation is lacking. Instead, I've been hell bent on getting my house whipped into shape. I took on way too many projects (toilets, chickens, painting, etc), all at the same time, for one single Singlutionary to complete in a reasonable amount of time. And yet I now need them completed. I need this not only for my own mental health but also because I got a full time job! I start next week and I am heck bent on getting all the loose ends of life wrapped up before I start working not only one-full-time-job but one-full-time-job plus the-part-time-job that I already have.

(After I finish this quick post, I am going to go write my final post on my Unabashedly Unemployed blog about the job and everything that means to/for me.)

But as far as the Singlution goes, its still in full swing. It might take me a few more weeks to catch up on reading blogs and to get my new routine down but I'm still here being single and loving it!

And I did install two of my three free toilets. It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty and it took about 5 times longer than I planned, but I did it and I gained a lot of toilet-flange/cement-drilling knowledge and confidence in the process! The last 1970s-permanently-poo-stained toilet is in my own bathroom which nobody else really uses (although they had to use it while their toilets were reduced to a pipe in the floor). That project will have to wait for a day off or a holiday. I think I might start calling Independence day, "Change the Crapper Day". After that I'll be independent of toilets. Wait. No. I still NEED the toilets (in order to not get arrested for public pooing). I just won't need a husband/boyfriend/partner/spouse/handyman/bitch/live-in-lover to change 'em.