Friday, November 1, 2013

The Proposal

It was my birthday. Earlier in the week I had made an appointment to do something a little different. I booked an appointment to play dress up at the new downtown location of a place I’d been an online member of for about 2 years. I got up rather early, considering that we hadn’t even made it into the city that never sleeps until after midnight. We walked to the location and I was quickly brought a bunch of dresses to try on. The first dress was a sequined number, in a blush/rose gold color. It looked amazing on me, but it wasn’t my usual style. I liked it, but decided to try on a few more dresses. Nothing else compared to that dress and really, while it wasn’t something I would normally wear, that was the whole point. I was finally thirty; thirty, flirty and thriving to quote a favorite movie. So, I took the plunge and rented the dress for the night. I also got earrings and a clutch to match and with my birthday coupon, I got it all at a steal!

Afterwards, we went for the trademark pizza of this city before we headed back to change for the shows we would see and dinner. Back at the hotel room, I put on my dress, and managed to bring Eric to tears. I had hoped to wear both the dress I rented and the dress I brought with me from home, but sadly, with the plan being to walk everywhere, there wouldn’t have been time to change. So I wore that hot number all night, and I think it made the day all that much more amazing.

We saw Chicago and it was phenomenal. I had such a good time and was surprised by the number of songs that had not been included in the movie. After the show, we headed to dinner at an Irish place that has a local chapter in my city. We ended up in a semi-secluded table by the window, which was nice and romantic. The place wasn’t terribly packed either, and I was glad we opted for an early dinner. Dinner was delicious, and I enjoyed a hard cider with it. I was shocked that I didn’t get carded, but somewhat thrilled to think I looked older. Maybe it was just the dress. After dinner, we got a chocolate molten cake which was delicious, but the real treat came after dessert. Eric gave his cell phone to the waitress to take pictures, but told her to wait; he needed to get in position first. He came around to my side of the table and knelt on one knee. He told me that he was so happy that I had come back into his life and he wanted to make sure I was a part of his future, so he asked me to marry him. The ring was perfect, exactly what I would have picked out myself. It was a simple, solitary stone, but with a secret detail that you’d have to look for to see it. I had made the joke so many times about not wearing white to my wedding because I have a child and “the gig’s up” that Eric thought to include a piece of her in my ring. Under the diamond, on either side of the band itself, are two small green gems. Emerald is my daughter’s birth stone.

I accepted, our waitress was crying and she took some really great photos on his phone. Afterwards, she brought us complimentary champagne to celebrate. We stayed at the restaurant a bit longer before it was time to head to our next show, but the night was perfect. The proposal was simple, and elegant, which is all I wanted.

And all I could think was, to think this all started with a simple remorseful email, asking for forgiveness for transgressions committed almost 9 years previously…

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Greek Revisited, Take 2!

I changed train stations, began taking different trains, and blocked his number. Yet still, at the beginning of October, he found me. I was sitting quietly on the train, listening to my music and staring absentmindedly out the window, letting my thoughts wander aimlessly as I usually do. Someone sat next to me, which is not unusual for a bit of public transportation, but I sensed that this person was looking at me and it only took a second before the person spoke to me. I looked up and found the Greek sitting beside me.

He had sent me an email about 2 days before, which had seemed harmless enough, but I still wasn’t comfortable contacting him. Apparently I wasn’t being given a choice in that respect. He immediately launched into a speech about his feelings for me. He still loved me, and he was sorry for throwing away what we had without a fight. He read me an excerpt from a book. Then he declared that he wanted to try again, and this time, he was putting marriage on the table, which previously had been one of the many reasons I did not choose him in the end.

I was completely at a loss. The only thing going through my head at this point was a repeated “holy shit, holy shit, holy shit.” I did manage to deny his statements when he told me he really did want to get married. After hearing for close to a year how marriage was the epitome of evil and all that was wrong with the world, this 180 certainly came out of left field for me. By the time we reached my stop, I hugged him awkwardly. I felt bad for what he had been through and what he had disclosed, but at the same time, I felt violated. I felt scared. I was relieved to leave the train and get some space.

I unblocked his number, mostly to avoid another ambush on the train, and agreed to talk to him on Monday, as it was a holiday and I was without plans. I ended up seeing him on Saturday as well at a local fair. I was meeting up with some friends and he tagged along. It was a little awkward at first, but nowhere near as awkward as when Eric showed up. Sitting between two men who were vying for my affections was a situation I should have been accustomed to at this point in my life, but no matter how many times I find myself in this situation, it doesn’t get any easier.

On Monday we met at a restaurant near his house. I had strategized with Derrick prior to this meeting, but once I got there, all the strategizing died because he had walked to the restaurant, which was packed, and any other place we ventured to would require me to drive him. It was a long, emotional day. I let him state his case. I stated part of mine, but in the end, I needed the time to review everything. However, in spite of his newfound interest in marriage, that was never the reason I walked away from him. There were a lot of reasons, including a complete disregard for my boundaries on his part. After about a week or so more of talking to him, I finally had to have yet another long emotionally charged conversation. It will, hopefully, be the last this time. He swore he would leave me alone until I contacted him, but past experience has taught me not to trust this.

What it came down to for me was this: if I was as happy with the Greek as he believed me to be, I never would have reopened communication with Eric. I would have been content to pursue the relationship with the Greek. That’s not how it went down, and I found in Eric what I was missing in my life. I love Eric and I want to move forward in my life with him.

I don’t know what will happen with the Greek. Part of me wants to maintain a friendship, but a lot of me is just done. If I want my boundaries to be pushed or challenged, I can rely on my ex husband for that. I want to be stronger in my 30’s than I was in my 20’s. I want to set firm boundaries and I won’t be able to do that if I remain friendly with someone who has proven on a regular basis to disregard my intentions and feelings for his own personal gain. While part of me misses his companionship, I can’t base my decision on a sense of normalcy that was created against my wishes. Yes it was normal to see him daily on the train, but I did fight against that occurrence at points and I have to learn to differentiate between actually wanting to see someone versus accepting that it is an inevitability.

Our last conversation was on Thursday of last week. I haven’t heard from him since and I hope to keep it that way.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Proposal Watch 2013

So, when I first came up with the title of this entry, I was thinking of the Buffy episode where Mr. Trick hijacked Buffy and Cordelia in a limo on their way to a dance (possibly prom? I don’t remember). However, I’m pretty sure the title of that particular episode, or at least, the video that Mr. Trick showed them after the limo had abandoned them in an open field, was “Slayerfest ‘99.” Oh well.

Eric apparently picked up the ring from the jeweler a couple of weeks ago. He’s since shown it to his entire family and our mutual friend Cassie. I, obviously, have not seen it, though he has described it to me. From the sounds of things, he hasn’t decided on a proposal, although, as I told him, my standards are not significantly high. My ex proposed to me by blocking the door to my basement apartment’s tiny bathroom while I was taking out my contacts. There was no ring involved, and apparently no thought process either, but I was also fiancé #3 or #4, so perhaps the pomp and circumstance went to fiancés 1-3.

His family, surprisingly, has been very receptive to the idea. I thought at least someone would point out that it was too soon, but thus far, he has yet to meet with any opposition. Sadly I do not expect the same luck from my own family. With the recent break up with Derrick still on their minds (and more than a few of them expecting us to reunite) added to the quick moving relationship I had with my ex husband (also following a break up with Derrick), I am resigned to the skepticism I am likely to encounter. The only thing I can do at this point is let time prove them wrong. Things are not the same as they were with my ex, and I can only hope that as we move forward, my family will come around. I don’t think they are against Eric himself or have any issues with him, but I do think that the speed of an engagement would concern them.

Still, my concerns about becoming engaged too soon are withering, and it helped significantly when Eric recently met many of my immediate family members to include my sister, father and my father’s fiancé. We attended a local fair with my sister and stopped by my father’s house as it had been quite a while since my daughter had seen him. There, Eric met my father and his fiancé, having already met my sister at the fair. He seemed to fit in well and my father’s fiancé asked what he did for a living, which helped to establish that he meets their criteria of being gainfully employed!

The one thing I can say, in spite of my fears regarding the reaction of family and friends, is that I am ready. I’m ready to give marriage another shot, a true shot, knowing exactly what I’m getting myself into. I want to do it right this time, no shotgun wedding, no second guessing, and with a willing heart. I did my ex husband a disservice when I married him against not only my family’s objections, but also my own.

I can also say with a sense of conviction that, much as I still care for Derrick, a marriage between us really wouldn’t have worked. He’s one of my best friends and he and I always connected on so many levels. But the work required for a marriage is something he wasn’t ready to put forth, and I can see a major difference between my frustrations of last year at this time with trying to make something work on my own, and my feelings now. No relationship is easy, but I can see now that moving in together was the true test for my relationship with Derrick and it is a test we failed miserably. It’s amazing how much our break up improved not only our relationship, but the one Derrick shared with my daughter. Once he was no longer attempting to discipline her on a regular basis, their relationship gradually returned to a friendly one. My daughter is still not 100% comfortable with Derrick, but she has relented in her refusals to have much to do with him. I don’t know what will happen when our lease ends and Derrick and I go our separate ways, but I do know that at least we will part on good terms.

So, the proposal watch continues. Awhile ago, Eric had told me he would probably wait until November, but now I’m not sure what his plan is. Seeing as he’s already told his family, I can’t imagine he’s going to wait too long. I will admit that I am nervous, but mostly excited. I feel like I’m finally getting a real chance at love. It’s funny though, if you had told me 6 months ago that I would be engaged to Eric, I would have thought you were crazy. We hadn’t even re-entered each other’s lives at that point. But life is crazy sometimes, and my life has been exceptionally crazy, so I’ve learned to just go with it! I will definitely post again whenever it happens. Feels weird to see “when” instead of “if” but I don’t think there’s any denying it now.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Couch to 5K

One of the items on my 30 by 30 is losing two dress sizes. With less than a month to go, I don't think this goal is attainable; however, I have started doing the couch to 5K program and I am noticing that it's at least helping. So far, my exercise program has been to do couch to 5K three nights and then one or two nights of Jillian Michael's 30 day shred with two nights off. It's been fairly easy to stick by so far, so I am pretty proud of myself. I haven't seen a lot of weight loss, but I'm feeling better, and that seems more important.

It's been suggested by the couch to 5K creators that, to help you stick with the program, you should sign up for a 5K at the end. I've been looking at options and none of them sounded good, until I found a GroupOn deal for a fun "ugly sweater" 5K at the harbor that includes hot chocolate at every mile and an after party with two hard ciders. The weekend is a little sketchy since I might have my daughter, but Eric said he would keep her with him during my race and they'd cheer me on together. If that happens, there's also an ice show a hotel at the harbor always puts on that Eric suggested we see, so we can always make a day of it.

Now, I just need an ugly sweater. Eric has told me that he's willing to buy me one for my birthday. He kindly sent me to this site after I told him that as long as it had bling or sequins (so I still get something sparkly for my birthday) that I was game. I sent him this sweater as it's green AND has beads, which count as bling in my book.

There's also a color run in Baltimore in November, but it is also a weekend I have my daughter and is right after I'm set to finish the program. I think December would be the safer bet, and it's also cheaper with the GroupOn. There's other, more competitive 5K's around Thanksgiving, but I think I'd do better in a less competitive environment. Both the ugly sweater and color run 5K's are just for fun and are not timed. I recently posted a facebook meme that said something like "I am not trophy wife material, I'm more of a participation ribbon girl." So, I think a less competitive environment would suit me fine!

Now I just have to make sure I stick with the program at least through Christmas so I can run this race. Maybe I'll add some running goals to my 45 by 45 list. My brother has already done multiple marathons, so it wouldn't be all that unique, but still a worthy goal.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

30 days til 30

As of tomorrow, I have a month left until I turn the big 3-0. I've still got about half of my list left to complete, but even if I don't come close to finishing everything on my 30 by 30, I'm pretty damn proud of how much I accomplished in the last 6 months.

Over Labor Day weekend, I accomplished yet another feat: I got my first tattoo. I went with a former co-worker on the Friday before Labor Day as it was a service reduction day for state workers. We got there not long after they opened and my friend offered to go first so I could "see how it was done." She did alright on the outline, but when the guy switched to color on her butterfly, she couldn't quite keep the poker face. Lucky for me, I had chosen to go with a simple tattoo: dolphins swimming around my ankle. It was painful and I was nervous, but I got through it. :) And now, almost a month later, my tattoo has pretty much healed and it feels awesome to know I finally took that step as I've been wanting the same tattoos for about the last ten years.

This weekend, Eric and I are going to a drive-in movie theater, which is also on my list. And then next month, he and I are taking my daughter to see Niagara Falls. That will kill two things on my list: a road trip in my new car and seeing Niagara Falls. The plan is that the following weekend, on my actual birthday, we're going to head up to NYC to take in a Broadway show (or two, he's been hinting that he would like to finally see Avenue Q).

I figure, with some of the other things I have (like making my own mead and losing weight), I should accomplish about 2/3 of my list by my birthday. Whatever is left will either be left to the wayside or incorporated into my 45 by 45 list in honor of my mother...which I really need to get a move on and start compiling that list!! I'd like to have it mapped out by my 30th birthday.

Still, I am amazed at what I did accomplish this year. I went on a cruise, got to "swim" with dolphins, went zip-lining, parasailing, and surfing. I've done a lot of things I wasn't sure I would do and I'm really proud of how I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I also signed up for an exotic dancing class in DC next month, which is also on my list. I'm not sure how far out of my comfort zone that will push me, since I've already taken two seasons of belly dancing and have a dvd called "strip to it," but I'm excited.

As far as the actual act of turning 30, I'm actually looking forward to it. My 20's were such a whirlwind of bad decisions and basically rebuilding my life that I'm really optimistic that my 30's will be a better decade. I hope to be "30, flirty and thriving," to quote one of my favorite movies. By the end of my 30's, I hope to be finished with law school, working as an attorney and finding new ways to better my life. I hope to be a better mom to my daughter, a better friend and, possibly, a better wife than I apparently was in my 20's. I've learned a lot in the last decade, so much that sometimes I forget it's only been a decade as, to me, it's felt like a lifetime. However, the good thing is that it hasn't been a lifetime, and I still have time left to grow from the mistakes I've made.

For my last 30 days of my 20's, I want to celebrate how far I've come and look forward to what lies ahead!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Greek...Revisited

Deleting someone from your phone doesn't delete them from your life, especially if the person has a past of being extremely persistent. This past weekend, this became all too clear as the Greek sent me a text message which sent me into an unexpected panic attack.

I hadn't realized how much our relationship dynamic affected me until I got a text message that basically warned me to expect him to pop back into my life in October. I freaked out. I've taken measures since then to protect myself, some simple technological ones, others more extreme moves in my daily life.

However, yesterday, I realized why I was having such an adverse reaction to communication from the Greek. Talking it out with Eric and other friends really put something into perspective. I never felt fully comfortable with the Greek, I always felt slightly on edge and I could never put my finger on why. Yesterday I realized, at least in part, what one of my major issues with him was: he didn't respect my boundaries.

One of the blogs I read had an entry a while back about how when she said no to something, it felt like the other person took that as an opportunity to start negotiations. That's how I felt with the Greek. I felt like he would push and persuade until I gave in, and thus would destroy any boundaries I had set. No was never enough. I'm not trying to say that he forced anything sexual, it was more in social situations. We actually had an ongoing half joke about some of the things that he had pushed. He would say he "persuaded" me for outings or experiences and I would counter with he guilt tripped me. And the more I've thought about it in the few weeks since we took leave of each other, the more I've felt upset about it. This explains my extreme reaction to his text, because I don't know how hard he will push when he's ready to see me again. I don't know how hard he will try to find me, and I'm not looking to risk that.

I actually have a perfect example of him not respecting my boundaries. On our commute, there is this guy who commutes with us to the city sometimes. The first time I noticed him was on Halloween last year where he was wearing garb with a dragon puppet on his shoulder, a popular accessory at our local Renaissance Festival. This immediately scored points with me and I would always look for this gentleman on our rides to and from work. The Greek used to tease me relentlessly about this and would threaten to engage the guy in conversation. I recently switched positions and moved to a new office not far from my old one. Right before I switched positions, the guy ended up on our train and sat nearby enough where the Greek could easily engage him in conversation. He proceeded to do so. This did not bother me until the Greek made it his mission to engage me in the conversation as well and introduce me to this guy. I begged him not to do it when I saw the guy sit near us, but he didn't listen. While the guy demonstrated no signs of being bothered by the dialogue, I was mortified. It was just another example of the Greek not respecting my boundaries.

A friend that I confided in sent me to a blog entry on another site that really hit home what I was feeling. I'll post the particular paragraph that really resonated with me below:

Sometimes people do react very badly to these requests, and they treat you as if you are doing them emotional violence. Sometimes you say “Hey, knock it off” and the other person hears “YOU TERRIBLE PIECE OF SHIT WHO CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT.” That is their jerkbrain talking, not something you did. It doesn’t feel good to learn that you were hurting someone’s feelings or making them feel bad, but it’s incredibly manipulative to answer “Please don’t flirt with me, I am uncomfortable” with “You hate me and I can’t do anything right” and force the person whose boundaries you’ve been violating to comfort you and rebuild your self-image. When someone reacts disproportionately to a simple request (like Alice), it’s hard to hang back and let them get as weird as they want to and then still stand up for the thing you need. When someone tells you that you are stomping on their boundaries, the hardest thing sometimes can be to separate what they say from the messages of your own jerkbrain and give an adult response that doesn’t vomit your feelings all over them. Both of these are emotional skillsets that are part of having adult relationships, and I think that even if they weren’t installed or nurtured from childhood, they can be learned.
The bolded part (my emphasis) is really what hit home for me the most. I felt like that a lot, like somehow because I was taken outside of my comfort zone and dared to point it out, I was suddenly the bad guy. I've always had issues with establishing and maintaining boundaries, but in this particular relationship, I feel less like I wasn't establishing or maintaining clear boundaries, it was more that he was constantly pushing the boundaries to see whether he could realign them. Even when we "broke up," it wasn't until I completely pulled the plug on communication that it stopped. He asked for space, and then when I willingly gave it and went through many different venues to not invade his space, he would inevitably contact me to meet and ride in with him in the mornings. I finally put my foot down and said I wouldn't communicate with him anymore, and I haven't responded to anything since.

I'm dreading October right now, and I'm not even sure if I'll have that long as his track record for sticking to the no contact rule is sketchy at best. I also find myself just angry at the situation. I feel childish for some of my anger, but have been assured by a lot of people that my reaction is not childish. Whether it is or isn't, I'm still upset because I feel like I'm being cheated out of convenience and comfort for my own personal safety. And I feel like I shouldn't have to choose between convenience and comfort versus safety. I didn't ask for this. I didn't ask for him to come into my life and cause the drama and issues that he did. I didn't ask to feel this conflicted about someone. I want to put this behind me. I want it to be, as I said in this entry, that it will be as if he never existed. But I can't put this behind me when I'm so anxious about when the next time he'll try to come back into my life will be and what means he will employ to do so.

I want my life back. For now, though, I can only consider new strategies to maintain my distance from him and hope they do the job.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday Mourning

Yesterday was a sad day of realizations for me. I’m not sure where they came from or why they kept popping up in rapid succession, but I do know that they made me think.

I’m turning 30 in 2 months. Perhaps that was the reason for the thought process. August 26th is one of my “unbirthdays.” In two months from that date, I would be 30. So, naturally, I thought about my 30 by 30 list. However, I also thought about the dark side of 30.

My mother passed away almost 11 years ago to colon cancer. When the doctors finally found the tumor, it was huge as it had steadily been growing since she turned 38. They removed it, which bought her about 8 months of life, but there was no hope. She was in stage 4 by the time they finally listened to her complaints and found the true cause of all her digestive issues.

Having a close relative, like a parent, with cancer tends to increase the risk of you developing it as well. In my case, I not only have colon cancer on my mother’s side through my mother, I also have it through one great aunt on my mother’s side and one great aunt on my father’s side. So, basically, I am screwed.
As such, the doctors told my siblings and me that when we turn 30, we need to get a colonoscopy every year. I’ve been dreading this day for almost 11 years now. My sister jumped the gun a bit and had a couple of colonoscopy’s before she turned 30, and then one after she turned. The last one she had, the doctor told her she didn’t have to come back every year anymore, to just come back again in a few years.
I was 19 when my mother died. I’m over halfway to spending more of my life without my mother than I was able to spend with her. That saddens me. So much happened in the last 11 years that I did not get to share with her, and sometimes, even though so many years have passed and I’ve accepted it, I still find myself angry and sad to not have had her during this time. It is especially hard because I don’t remember a lot from the years I had with her because I was simply too young. The hardest part; however, has been raising my daughter without my mother. My father was not around much when we were children, he’s not around much these days either, so I lacked the motherly advice so many others complain about. I wish I had the ability to complain that she was overstepping her boundaries and that her advice, while appreciated, was unsolicited. But I don’t have that luxury. I don’t have the luxury to fight with her about my lack of parenting skills, and I feel crazy sometimes for wishing I did.

My mother was 45 when she died. My next realization is that when my mother turned 30, she only had 15 years left of life. Tied into this realization is the fact that my entire family comments on how much alike we are. So, for reasons that I acknowledge are purely illogical, I feel like I’m facing a terminal sentence of 15 more years of life myself. While I know that it’s unlikely that I’ll suffer the same fate as my mother (I mean, I’m so focused on preventing colon cancer, I’m sure there will be something much worse that I’ll miss, right?), I started thinking about something I could do in tribute to my mother, and also to make sure that if something does get me by age 45, I’ve lived as full of a life as I can in the next 15 years.

I made a 30 by 30 list that I’m about halfway through. I’m hoping to get at least 20 of the items done by my 30th, but I think it would be more interesting to create a 45 by 45 list, or a “bucket” list if you will, in honor of my mother. Instead of simply focusing on things *I* want to do in the next 15 years, I will include all the things my mother wished she could have done and find some way to include her memory along the way.

I haven’t made the list of 45 by 45, but I plan to within the next few days. I think this will be a nice tribute to my mom and a way to feel like I’m fully embracing life. I’m pretty excited!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ring Fever

I'm apparently on the brink of getting engaged. I'm not sure exactly how to feel about that. It's not with Derrick, the person I truly thought of as the "love of my life" for years. He and I officially called it quits for good in May. No, it's with Eric, an old friend of mine I reconnected with right after Derrick and I ended things.

Eric and I knew each other 9 years ago. We met through a mutual friend, Cassie. Cassie and I met through my best friend, but really, we became friends through an online journaling site. She and I started out just reading each other's journals and then within a few months, we started hanging out in person. Before I knew it, she was someone I considered my closest friend and for a year, we spent so much time both on and offline together.

Through her, I got to be closer with Eric. He and I had a mutual interest in each other, but we had one major roadblock: I was dating Derrick at the time. Things came to a head after we expressed our feelings for each other because I wasn't willing to break things off with Derrick. We stopped speaking 9 years ago this month. And then, after Derrick and I finally ended our on-again, off-again relationship, I started re-reading all of my old journal entries from the first time I dated Derrick. Through that re-reading and reliving of those experiences, I realized I still had a lot of buried feelings for Eric. So, I contacted him and Cassie.

And now, Eric and I are pursuing a relationship, and he's already bought a ring. I reconnected with him in May. It's now, well, almost September, but still, it's not been that long. I was with Derrick for over 4 years and never got to marriage. I'm afraid I'm reliving the past. I'm afraid I'm going to make the same mistakes that led to an unhappy and borderline abusive marriage. I've been down this road before, and I keep arguing with myself over things. Eric is not like my ex husband. He has a lot going for him my ex husband did not have when I met him and agreed to marry him (after only a month of dating...). He has things like a career, a degree, and is looking into buying a house.

But I still have my misgivings. I know I'm ready to try again for marriage, I just didn't think I would be with someone other than Derrick. However, I know that I still love Eric very much, and I think that because we never gave the relationship a real shot, it's only fair to see it through. That doesn't mean I have to marry him, but I...want to. I feel something for him I've never felt before. He gets me on a level that even Derrick, someone I still consider my best friend, hasn't connected with me on. We have a lot more in common than I think I ever realized, and even though his geekier habits do tend to make me cringe sometimes, I also find them endearing.

He ordered the ring on Wednesday. He said it will be here in 2-3 weeks, and he gave me a timeframe of October. But he also told me a story that the jeweler he went to had shared with him. He said that a lot of times, the men who come into the jewelry shop have an idea in mind of how they want to propose, but then once they get the ring, they abandon their plans and propose as soon as possible because they want to see that ring on their beloved's finger.

Eric jokingly asked me what he should do if he got struck with what we have coined "ring fever."

I told him to take two tylenol and take a nap.

It will be as if he never existed...

I've deleted the Greek's number, blocked him from facebook, and deleted all of our texts as well as pictures I had saved in my phone. He came into my life as a whirlwind: unexpected, wreaking havoc all over my world. He left more subdued, but still with a fair amount of destruction.

He had said that in a month or so, when he was "over" me, he would like to try a friendship again. However, after seeing that he had removed me from facebook yesterday, I decided this was just something I didn't want. I don't want to know him anymore. If I delete him from my life, eventually, maybe the memories will fade with him, and it will be as if he never existed. My memory doesn't usually work that way, but I do tend to hold onto memories, both good and bad, through keeping things that remind me of things. I didn't really write much about the Greek in my private journal, which has served for years as my memory bank. It was like, even during the course of our relationship, I didn't want to commit the experience to memory. As if I knew from the beginning it wouldn't pan out the way he thought it would. I was right, but I know that may have also been a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This relationship was built on a lie, and I feel relieved that the lie has ended. It aids in my desire to put it out of my mind and to let go of the memories. It will be as if he never existed. It will be as if I never lived a lie.

Circling the Drain

In 2007, I had hit rock bottom. My finances were in a huge upheaval, my marriage was already on the rocks and I was trying to deal with a newborn. As a result, my credit suffered severely, my marriage ended in 2008, and I became a single mom; still fraught with financial strife, but on the mend.

In July of this year, I started a "new" job. I put new in quotation marks because it was a lateral move within the government. Same position, different agency. It should have been my easiest transfer with the government since I started in 2008. For some reason, everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. The agency I left apparently didn't notify the Department of Budget and Management that I was transferring to a new agency. So instead of holding onto my information until the new agency could get my paperwork, they deleted me and I missed a paycheck. Then I was notified that my benefits could not be deducted correctly because I didn't receive a paycheck.

I had a huge fight with one of the workers in benefits over getting the paperwork to pay back the state for my benefits. We didn't ever agree on the repayment amount, but I got the paperwork and took it to the benefits office with my check. Yesterday I received a new notice from DBM, again requesting me to repay the benefits. I hand-delivered the documents and the check to DBM. I have no idea what they did with my check, but now I'm irritated. So, I guess I will be calling them on Monday.

And then, to add insult to injury, I got a new credit card in order to take advantage of a free balance transfer offered. I did a balance transfer from my main credit card to this new card to start paying it down. For some inexplicable reason, the new credit card canceled the transfer after it had already cleared, and I was charged a bunch of fees, pushing my old card over the limit. This is something I will be able to take care of before the next billing cycle ends, so it shouldn't be a major issue and I should be able to keep it from being reported to the credit agencies, but I'm very irritated.

It was one thing when my financial issues were from my own doing, but this has been one huge problem after another and none of it has been my fault. I know this is a period of transition and I will be fine within a few months, but this has been a nightmare. I feel like I'm back in the beginning and I'm struggling again. At least this time I have a full time job making decent money and my finances should be settling down now that my daughter is back in school. Summer daycare is very expensive, and I'm very glad that summer is over!

I'm hoping by October, my finances will settle down and I can start getting ahead again.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Naturally Unnatural

“Your hair is so beautiful, but redheads seem to be dying out.”

“It must be your Irish heritage. Your red hair gives you away.”

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Well, it’s not really a secret so much as it is the debunking of a common assumption. Lean in close, I don’t want this to get out as I enjoy fooling random strangers on the street.

I, Erin, am not a natural redhead.

I know! It shocks everyone when I reveal this! So many people have assumed my hair is naturally this lovely shade of red. One man even kept staring at me to see if he could see some hint that would confirm my declaration. I’m surprised by the sheer amount of people who believe I’m a natural redhead simply because my eyebrows hint at my natural dark brunette coloring. My natural hair color is truly almost black, and I’m told that is more in line with my Irish heritage than my deceptive auburn hue.

I don’t allow the ruse to continue for long if someone directly comments on my hair. I typically will set them straight. I just prefer to be a redhead. It goes best with my personality, which I affectionately describe as “sweet and spicy.” It also goes along with my rare, but explosive temper. It takes a lot to set me off, but when it happens, I definitely fit into the fiery redhead stereotype.

So I got to thinking the other day, why is the deception so easy for me when others who also have chosen to dye their hair are easily recognized for their trickery? I finally came up with a reason after performing my monthly dying ritual: my awful methods for dying my hair make it appear more natural!

Let me explain. I’m sure you’ve seen someone having their hair dyed in a salon type atmosphere before. They tend to separate the hair evenly and brush on the hair dye with a tool that seems like a cross between a paintbrush and a basting brush. This way the dye goes onto every strand of hair evenly and creates that uniform look.

The problem with that “uniform” look is that it’s not how hair appears naturally. Even the blackest hair tends to have some form of highlight in it, even if it’s very subtle and hard to see. However, with dyed hair, even with the “highlights” that some women get, it’s obviously not natural because, again, there’s still a “uniform” look even with those highlights. The highlights are placed at even intervals, making it more obvious that they are not natural.

I dye my hair at home, using a $10 box. My hair is thick, and so normally by the time I’m done with my roots, I’m already about halfway through the bottle of dye and still have to apply it to the rest of my hair to “freshen” the color. So, I’m typically rationing off the remaining dye to cover my head. This means that I don’t use the separate and brush method. Oh no. If you saw me dye my hair you would probably laugh at my insanity or stare profoundly in horror.

Instead of the brush, I tend to section off my hair and squirt a trail of dye down from the top of my head to the ends of my hair. This means that the dying is VERY uneven. When I finish dying all of my hair in this fashion, I try to cover more of my hair by piling it on top of my head and putting the dye on any non-dyed hair. It looks really weird and, ultimately, some of the hair doesn’t get dyed.

This crazy method that probably makes absolutely no sense, actually results in my hair being multicolored. Not multicolored in the sense that it looks like a crazy rainbow, but multicolored in the sense that it has depth and highlights. And since I’m never able to recreate exactly which hair sections will be the most saturated with dye and which ones won’t, the dimensions are constantly changing. The various colors in my hair as a result lend it a more natural look than the typical salon dye job. This in turn makes everyone believe I am a natural redhead and, thus, the name of my blog.

So, the lesson today is that sometimes veering away from the norm and making a fairly routine action your own turns into something beautiful. Or, in the alternative, looks can be deceiving. I’m sure both of these lessons are going to be regular themes in this blog.