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Change of Address

I'm moving. Well, not really.

A friend recently had trouble leaving a comment on one of my entries because he didn't have a blog, but didn't want to be anonymous, either. I'd been thinking about starting up a blog at a different site for some time, and this problem made that need a little more evident.

I started writing this blog because I thought it would be to share some of my dating horror stories. Then I found that I like writing about a lot more than dating - but it always seems to lead back to some sort of interpersonal relationship issue.

Anyway - I don't have a lot of readers or a lot of followers, but I definitely want people to be able to find me and comment whenever they like. I don't want to exclude anyone who doesn't have a blog, or who maybe just doesn't want to link to it when making a particular comment. I love the idea that what I write might touch someone, and if they want to share with me or having something to say, I want to hear it all. 

So, I'm keeping this blog, and I will write here. I like the fact that I can write posts and keep them to myself, and I also like the fact that I can choose with whom to share them on this site.

But I'm also starting up a new blog, one that will probably be a little more active and have a different feel to it. If you'd like to visit, http://sue215.blogspot.com will get you there. Stop by anytime.

I will see you around this neighborhood, too!

I Got This

I have joked (ok, semi-joked) over the years about how some of my favorite family traditions are arguing, gossip, secrets, etc. Well, our eating out together is no different. The times, places and occasions might change, but the one tradition we faithfully observe is the awkward moment we all share when the bill arrives.

The players can vary by outing, but the core players are usually my father, my cousin, her husband, and me. We can easily agree on when and where to eat. Sometimes, we even choose similar menu items. But when the bill comes, we're split into two separate camps.

My father and I are of the opinion that you tip well when deserved, and semi-well otherwise; but you always tip as though you might want to visit the restaurant again. In our minds, this means the tip hovers around 20% of the total bill.

Dad and I also think that we should just split the entire bill between the adults who are paying. We don't quibble over things like non-paying kids at the table, heavy bar bills, etc. [Note: Neither my dad nor I drink and neither of us brings non-payors to these events, so if we're not complaining, no one else should be, either.]

My cousin believes the bill should be analyzed and dissected as follows: If her step-children are there, her husband should put in just enough to cover their actual bill. Then she thinks we should split the rest equally - including her bar bill. Our total should include a tip that hovers around the 15% mark. This leaves my dad and me to compensate for the fact that the kids' meals weren't included in the calculation of the tip. Her husband goes along with her, after insisting he be the one to review the bill. [Also worth noting: He has, more than once, miscalcuated the tip and even the total. My dad has a bachelors degree in math and can do the whole thing in his head faster (and more accurately) than I can on my phone's tip calculator.]

I've tried different tactics; If the bill is handed to me, I do the calculation. This earns me the evil eye from my cousin, but she won't dare bring it up in front of my father. If I can, I offer to pay with my credit card, which allows me to control the tip, no matter who does the figuring. I've even gone back to the table after the fact to leave extra money.

But in the end, there's not much I can do. We don't choose our family - we get them, flaws and all. So, I grin and bear it; and I complain here. Thanks for listening.



The (E)X Factor

Marriage can be rewarding and fulfilling. It's wonderful to find someone you can trust and laugh with. Someone who will be there.

So, it makes sense that divorce (or any breakup) bites.

I'm not talking about being divorced; like anything else, that's something you get used to. It's a change, and change can be difficult. But you work through it, and eventually accept where your life is headed. You move on.  

I'm talking about those moments leading up to, including and immediately following the decision to break up. A lot gets thrown yelled said. Maybe you don't mean all of it; maybe you do. Either way - it's out there, and you can't take it back.

But can you forgive? Do you even want to?

I saw a conversation the other day in the outskirts of my twitterverse about people who are unable to let go of their ex. In general, everyone agreed that your ex is your ex for a reason; if you could still get along, you'd probably still be in a relationship. [The only exception mentioned was if there are children involved; then, you're friendly for the kids sake, but nothing more.]

That probably explains why people think it's so strange that I am still friends with my ex-husband. We certainly said our fair share of 'stuff' to each other. Feelings were definitely hurt, and we weren't friends for a while. Anger, hurt and resentment are heavy loads to carry. I eventually found that forgiving was the only way to make room in my life for some happiness. So, I forgave him; which, eventually allowed me to forgive myself. For me, this was important and necessary.

Does forgiveness mean you'll be friends? In my case, it happened that way. This is someone I was with from the time I was 20 until I was 34. Without question, I've grown and changed a lot since getting separated, but let's face it - the time I spent with him has a lot to do with who I am. He was my best friend, and he was there for most of the major events that have shaped my life. So, just because we're not in love, or best friends, doesn't mean there isn't room somewhere in my life for him. 

Your friendship (or lack thereof) following a breakup is really just like any other relationship; over time, it turns into what it's going to be. For me, my ex went from being my husband to a stranger, to an enemy, to a best friend and finally to someone who I will always care about and with whom I will always share fond memories.

Just like anything else, it evolved. 

My Story (and Friday Fill-in)

Hi, my name is: Sue

But you can call me: Al?

Never in my life have I: Been drunk

My high school is: A place where I made some great memories

When I’m nervous: I clean

The last song I listened to was: Kings of Leon “Use Somebody”

If I were to get married right now: I’d go to jail, since my divorce isn’t final yet

My hair is: short and thick and grows way too fast

When I was 4: I loved to go to my grandmother’s house

Last Christmas: was strange for me

I should be: Working, I suppose

When I look down I see: My cute brown sandals that I got for a steal at the Lee outlets on Monday

The happiest recent event was: See previous answer; sales & shoes make me happy (so did my company for the day) :-)

By this time next year: I hope to be slightly smarter; and thinner

My current gripe is: My job

I have a hard time understanding: people who are mean for the sake of being mean

There are these girls: who I would call first in a time of great joy or sadness

If I won an award, the first person I would tell would be: My Dad

I want to buy: A bike

I plan to visit: A bike store, very soon

If you spent the night at my house: You would have to share space with my cats

The world could do without: ignorance and intolerance

Most recent thing I’ve bought myself: Dinner

Most recent thing someone else bought me: Ice Cream at Emack & Bolio’s

My middle name is: The same as my mother’s first name (that’s true for me as well!)

In the morning: I often hope it’s Saturday, even if I know it isn’t

Last night I was: At Alive at Five

There’s this guy I know who: Is awesome, basically perfect – and very complicated

If I was an animal I’d be: A pampered, well-cared-for housecat

Tomorrow I am: Going out for my best friend’s birthday

Tonight I am: Hopefully going to be closer to purchasing a bike

My birthday is: The anniversary of the day I turned 29

Writer's Block: Light reading

Some books are inspirational. Others are intellectually stimulating or emotionally comforting. Then there are those juicy, mindless reads that are only good for a plane ride or the beach. Which books or authors fall under this last category?

I love books - even mindlessly fun reads.  The best books I've read are the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.  All the stories center around Stephanie, a 30-something single gal who is just trying to do the best with what she's got.  She's a bond enforcement agent (bounty hunter) and gets into heaps of hilarious trouble.  I actually laugh out loud (for real) when I read these books!!

Too Much Sex, Not Enough City

I'm not a movie critic or a movie expert.  I don't pretend to know anything about cinematography, directing, or what it takes to write a successful screenplay. 

I am, however, somewhat of a learned movie-goer.  I'm also a big fan of the show and first theatrical installment of the Sex and the City franchise.  I've talked about the show and the movie in other posts and I often quote the show in my posts.

I am also honest.  I realize that the SATC stories are not intellectual or especially relevant.  The writing, acting and overall story-telling is probably mediocre at best.  It is what it is - a series about four women, doing their best while wearing high heels and enjoying funny looking cocktails.

But it resonates with me.  Not with the somewhat intellectual, bookworm, nerd-girl inside of me, but to my inner girlie-girl.  And, quite honestly - the usually self-concious, while trying to project self-confidence, unsure, scared single girl inside of me really relates to it, too. [Okay, and I like shoes, purses and clothes. I'm a girl.  Sue me.] 

I never watched the show when it was on the air.  I only went to see the movie because I was newly single (ok, let's call it was it was - I was newly dumped by my husband of nearly 10 years).  I was crying all the time, depressed and scared to death that my life would never recover.  A group of girlfriends was going to see the movie and invited me to go.  I went because that's what I was doing at the time - anything to keep myself occupied.

*What follows is somewhat of a spoiler.  So, if you've lived under a rock for the last two years, and care what happens in the first movie but have somehow managed to not see it yet, skip the next paragraph.*  

The first movie followed the basic plotline of the TV series (of which I have since become a big fan):  Carrie has man; Carrie loses man; Carrie is sad; Carrie is distracted by friends in vaguely similar situations; Carrie finds her girlfriends are her strength; Carrie gets back together with man.  Throw in some shoes, a funny hat, some sex and a few one-liners and - voila!!  A story to which any single gal can relate.  

This may sound silly, but it helped.  It helped me to see that life does go on, even in the aftermath of tremendous and unbelievable heartbreak.  More importantly - it helped me see that I could draw on my friends for all that strength I was missing, until I could build it up again for myself.  

So, I started watching the show, became a fan, and now consider myself slightly invested in the life of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.  I was really looking forward to the second movie.  I wanted to enjoy the shoes, the bags and the clothes.  I wanted to laugh at the to the flamboyant, funny antics of Stanford and Anthony.  I wanted to see, once again, how my girls can come to my rescue, no matter what my crisis of the moment might be.   

Now I realize that the girls have grown up.  Three of the four are married and one is a bachelorette by choice.  They like their jobs, they have their families, etc.  But, the point of the movie should still have been, "Hey, we can still have problems.  Oh, yeah, and hey - we still need our girlfriends to help us through them!"  

The same formula should have been followed, too.  Carrie is happy; Carrie is unhappy; Carrie is distracted by friends; Carrie gets strength...you get the idea.  

Instead, it seemed as though the writers tried to create a spinoff, rather than a sequel.  They tried to develop the characters and send them in a new direction.  I get catching us up; you want to draw in people who are new to the story.  But the first movie did that in 10 minutes (or less) while the opening credits were rolling.  This movie spent way too much time and effort laying the groundwork for who the characters are and what their problems were.  It took way too long to get to the meat of the story, which is the trip to the middle east.

While we're on that topic - that really wasn't a great idea.  First of all, we were missing a main character.  "The City" isn't named in the title for nothing.  Not to mention, as I read in an credible review earlier, the contrast in cultures was tough to manage.  Samantha, in particular, doesn't mesh well with conservative, Muslim traditions.  It created situations that ended up being more awkward than funny.  There were a couple of very small scenes where it was as though the writers wanted to make the SATC girls pilgrims for women's rights.  That's not really their role or their message.  It wasn't appropriate to a movie like this, and it also distracted from (what should have been) the intended message.   

Lastly, the writers added in a couple of "I Love Lucy"-esque predicaments, plus, not one, but two musical performances, which really don't belong in the SATC world.  For filler?  For a laugh?  I'm not sure why, but it didn't work.  It made the movie longer than it needed to be, inconsistent in its storyline and hard to follow.  

All in all, as a single girl - I was happy.  In there, somewhere, was my message of strength and friendship and trusting yourself and staying true to who you are.  And, of course, there were enough wardrobe changes to make me giddy.  

But as a movie fan, and a fan of the series, I was disappointed.  It wasn't well done, and after such a victory in the first go 'round, I expected better.  As for the series....for a TV show that went off the air at the top of its game, it's sad to see it finally jump its shark.  



Writer's Block: Do-over!

If you were given a life do-over card, would you keep it or give it to a friend? If you kept it, would you prefer to be born to the same or different parents? Would you want to keep your memories?

"Maybe mistakes are what make our fate...." [Carrie Bradshaw, SATC]

I used to believe that if you were good, then good things happened to you; if you were bad, then bad things happened.  Life was one big scorecard, and we were rewarded based on points.  [As a "Recovering Catholic," I think guilt is to blame for this tainted view of life; sorry, Dad.]  As I've gotten older grown up gone through certain things in life,  I've started to rethink that position.   

We seem to get so fixed on how things should be that when they change, we're convinced we did something wrong, or should have done something differently.  If you didn't get that promotion, you should have tried harder; if your SO breaks up with you, you weren't good looking/smart/funny/thin/rich enough; if your kids don't end up as doctors or lawyers, you were a bad parent. 

A lot of people who subscribe to this way of thinking do so because anything less feels like a copout.  Saying, "Well, my relationship failed because it wasn't meant to be," is shirking your share of the responsibility.  Deciding not to bother changing or improving things because it's all out of our control anyway sounds like an excuse to be lazy.  Doesn't it?  

But what about all the lessons we learned along the way?  Lessons like humility when we're passed over for a promotion and have to congratulate a peer.  Or self-respect when we exit an unhealthy relationship.  Or self-confidence when we finally realize we can take care of ourselves.   

What about what we may have been doing for others all the while?  Maybe we were in that place, at that time to push someone else to try harder, or to help someone else through a difficult time.  If we have spent all that time learning about ourselves and others, becoming better people and helping others to do the same - have we really been lazy?  Can that really be called a mistake?   

Let's not forget that while all this is happening...life is still going on.  That promotion that you didn't get may have made way for a better job, or maybe it pushed you to look for something better.  Or maybe the relationship that you ended has made room for someone better to fit into your life.  So - your mistakes, your failures...got you where you're supposed to be.     

Maybe we need to redefine success and failure.  Maybe success shouldn't be all about achieving goals.  Maybe success is simply having the courage to try.  Maybe success is a willingness to risk everything even though we know we might lose.  To have the courage to love.  Maybe failing is part of success - as long as we pick ourselves back up and move forward.  Then there wouldn't really be any mistakes or failures; just lessons learned.    

If that's the case, then no, I wouldn't want a do-over card.  And I wouldn't want to give any of my friends one, either.  If our mistakes are what makes us, then I want to keep all of mine, and I want my friends to keep theirs as well.  I wouldn't want to risk any of us losing who we've become.     

A good friend once told me, "You're right where you're supposed to be."  She meant that everything we go through happens for a reason.  The good, the bad, the sad....it all adds up to who we are, and it's all a part of getting us where we're supposed to be.

Santa Claus is a Democrat

"I don't believe in the Republican party or the Democratic party.  I just believe in parties."  [Samantha Jones, SATC]

I turned 18 in 1992.  That was the year that Bill Clinton was running for President against the sitting President, George Bush.  As the youngest Presidential Candidate ever (up to that point), Clinton did something unheard of; he spoke to the younger voters.  MTV introduced the "Rock the Vote" campaign, an effort to encourage younger people to register and let their voice be heard. 

I was so proud to be able to vote and so sure I agreed with Clinton, that I registered as a Democrat.  It never even ocurred to me to register as anything else, or not to register with any party at all.

I guess I fell into the same trap that a lot of people do; I believed that the Democrats wanted to protect freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc., and Republicans were all stuffy and conservative and believed only white, rich, Christian men should have any real power.  I trusted the stereotypes without really questioning them.  

In my mind, I had two very distinct boxes for people to fit into:  Republicans were conservative and Democrats were liberal.

"God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat." - Henry Louis Mencken  [<-- Yeah, like that.]

I'm pro-choice, in favor of same-sex marriage, I believe marijuana and prostitution should probably be legal, and I don't practice any organized religion.  I am anything but conservative.  So you can imagine my surprise when I started talking to some Republican friends and found [*gasp*] that Republican doesn't always equate to conservative.   

I was even more surprised (no - shocked is probably a better word) to find that I actually agree with some of the Republican ideology.  For example; welfare.  I don't believe in it.  Period.  (That's the Republican coming out.)  Now, the Democrat does yank me back a bit and remind me that there are deserving people and circumstances under which aid is necessary.  OK - but only in those circumstances.  There is, afterall, no free lunch. 

What about health care reform?  Economic bailouts?  Nope, not on that page, either.  Sorry Democrats, but I really want to keep the health insurance I've spent the last 20 years earning.  And I get the point of bailouts...but I really wish you wouldn't be so free with my money.  I earned it; they didn't.  They need to learn to budget better...just like I did.  

I have encountered people who have told me that I have a "sense of entitlement;" that I think I deserve a better home or a better car or a better job.  That I'm out of line for spending money on new shoes or a nice dinner when I could donate that money, or use it to take care of someone less fortunate.  

I disagree - but not entirely.  I am entitled to a better home, car and job and I like nice things; that much we agree on.  But why am I entitled?  Because I work hard.  I have a job I don't like because it pays what I need to maintain the life I want.  I pay my bills, I pay my taxes, I save, I donate...and, yes, I spend some on me.  Democrats seem to want me to feel bad about that.  "You should give more.  You should do more."  I can't.  You took my extra income in the form of taxes.  A few months ago, you took from me and gave away to people just because they have kids, or they've gone back to school, or they were injured or sick and had no health insurance.        

So, thanks Democrats for preserving (so far) a woman's right to choose.  And I appreciate the supreme court nominees that might finally put this whole same-sex marriage thing to bed.  

But please stop taking my money and then trying to make me feel bad for not giving away what's left.  I'm a good person.  I'm a good citizen and tax-payer.  

My name is Sue; and I am (might be) a Republican.

Now, where's that voter registration card?  


Chicks, Man

Chick-flicks are generally not my favorite movie genre.  While I can certainly relate to the content and characters (within reason), I actually like movies; I appreciate good writing, good acting, good plot-lines and character development.  Most chick-flicks lack some (sometimes all) of these qualities. 

However...these movies do serve a purpose.  They aide women through break-ups and heartache and wedding planning; losing and making friends; dating blunders and embarrassing moments.  The characters laugh with us, cry with us...they keep us company on lonely nights and remind us that somewhere, another woman just like us is making her own way through a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

There are a few must-have chick-flicks that I think every gal needs to add to her DVD collection.  

"Pretty Woman" --> It's the classic story of Cinderella, modernized and told with Richard Gere.  Now, before we go getting all Disney-ed up, let me say - I think fairytales are the worst thing that can happen to a little girl.  Life is not all about the pursuit of the perfect prince.  No little girl should grow up thinking that she should ever change anything about herself or her life for the love of a good man.  All little girls should be told they're pretty and all little girls should be taught to be themselves; and find someone to love her for the her she loves, not the other way around.   

"Pretty Woman" teaches us this.  Vivian is strong and independent; she's a fighter, a lover; she's happy, classy and not afraid to admit when she's wrong; she's vulnerable, she's smart - and she has style.  Most of all - she's herself; take it or leave it.  That's a message all little girls should learn, and all big girls need to be reminded of every now and then.

"Steel Magnolias" --> What does this movie show us?  That women stick together through thick and thin; that a mother's love knows no bounds; that we should respect our elders; and, most importantly:  Don't leave the house without the proper under garment.  {"She looks like two pigs fighting under a blanket!"}  It also shows us how short life can be, and how important it is to follow your dreams.  Find your song, find your voice, find your heart....leave your mark. 

 "A League of Their Own" -->  Women can play (and love) baseball just as well as men.  Translation:  It's not a man's world; it's your world, so get out there and own it.  Also, a very important lesson for people who think that women didn't do anything to help this country before it was permitted for women to enlist in the military.  Who do you think ran the store while the boys went out to play?  A good reminder of women's strength, compassion, stubborness...and curveballs.

"Fever Pitch" --> While were on the topic of baseball, this is a great movie about how a love of the greatest sport there ever was can bring two people together.  It is, unfortunately, set during the 2004 season, which is when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series...but nothing is perfect.  An excellent message about the power of true love...and there's a couple of people that get together in the movie, too, I think.

"Sex and the City" -->  Classic chick-flick.  Girl power, independent women, successful, smart, beautiful, women can rule the world....and have all the sex they want while they're at it.  Flips it's finger to every stereotypical trap a single girl falls into..."I need a husband, I need a husband...no matter what..."  In the end, maybe our friends are truly our soulmates.  Excellent message, and every girl needs to learn (or be reminded) that guys come and go...but your girls are forever. 

"The Women" --> Carries a similar message to Sex and the City, but delivers it with slightly older characters, wearing lower heels and longer skirts and having less sex. 

"How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days" -->  This movie reminds us all how we behave sometimes when we have a new guy in our life.  You know, that moment when we become just a little too possessive, a little too over-the-top and get a little too carried away with our girlfriend-abilities?  The movie, of course, exaggerates our behavior (that is the point, after all), but it's still a good lesson in what not to do.  Unless, of course, you're trying to lose the guy. 

So, that's my list.  I'm sure there are others; but these are the movies that I turn to when I have a lonely night and a pint of Ben & Jerry's to hang out with.  And I've tested these waters, believe me.

Writer's Block: Solo traveler

Do you find it very hard to open up to people? Why or why not? What are the benefits and disadvantages of being emotionally guarded?

"Sometimes we build walls not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to climb over."  Unknown

Years ago, I went to a friend's house for dinner.  When I sat down at her kitchen table, her two-year-old daughter, who had never met me before, came up and sat in my lap.  I was in her seat, you see, and she didn't know where else to sit.  So, she looked at me, decided I was ok - and got comfortable.

Adults often worry about kids being this upfront and open; they're afraid they'll get hurt, or taken advantage of, or worse.  So, we spend a lot of time teaching our kids to be guarded, cynical and suspicious...only we call it careful, cautious and smart.  We expect that as kids get older, they'll just figure out when it's ok to take that wall down.

But how do we expect that will happen?

If we've taught the lesson well enough, shouldn't it stick with the kid well into their own adulthood?  If they didn't just know when to be cautious, how will they just know when it is no longer necessary?  What happens if they don't ever figure it out?  Is there a plan in place to deal with that?  

Not too long ago, a friend and I were talking about how these walls affected us when we reentered the dating world after having been married for a while.  It's so easy to become skeptical of what people are after and what their agenda is that we forget not everyone has an ulterior motive.  Some people just are that honest, genuine and...well....worth it.  

This doesn't just go for us; it's on the other side, too.  You might meet someone who you think is worth letting your guard down, only to find that he is not willing to lower his own defenses.  And can you blame him?  To take down the wall is to risk getting hurt.  And let's face it...at our age, if we're single and dating again, we've probably been really hurt.  Who wants to repeat that?    

The thing is...if we never lower that wall, we can't let anyone in.  If we don't let anyone in....no one can prove they want to stay.  

So how do you get past this?  I'm no expert (by any stretch of the imagination) but I have been asked for this advice before.  When I searched myself for what I thought was my own answer, I came up with this:

Eventually, you have to find a way to accept that life is going to hurt (sometimes).  It's about lessons, good and bad, and experiences.  The trick is to learn to live on the offensive; you're going after life, not waiting for it to catch you.  

So the wall might keep the hurt out....but it will also keep out the good stuff, the fun stuff and the new stuff.  You're not living behind the wall; you're just hiding.