Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Horse Wins a Race, A Guy Wins My Heart

I am 35 years old and I have only been someone’s girlfriend twice in my life.

The first time was in 1998. I was a senior in high school and dating Dave, an absolute sweetheart. I lost my virginity to him the summer before we went away to college. We stayed together until Spring Break of freshman year when the distance between our universities just made things too hard.

The second time was in 2005. I remember the moment when we addressed it. Max and I were driving to a professional basketball game after dating for a couple of months. Because I loathe uncertainty, I had to ask, “If someone asked me if I had a boyfriend, I should say ‘yes,’ right?” I chose to ask this while driving over the George Washington Bridge, just to ensure all of my anxiety levels were as high as possible. He looked at me like I had just asked him his name. “I sure hope you would say ‘yes!’” he answered. And that was that. 

If I ever want these, please smack me.
(Three years later, he asked me to marry him, and four years after that I would ask him to divorce me.)

A decade since that moment in the car with my ex-husband (and three years since my marriage died), Rick expressed that he wanted me to be his girlfriend. Whoah.

Unlike with Jason, when I wanted no part of being his girlfriend or any else’s, I actually like Rick too. We have been spending as much time together as we can since we met in the end of April and it’s been great.

When Rick brought up the G-word, I got skittish because that’s what I do. Yes, I’ve been hoping to find a relationship again for awhile now, but I’m one of those people who is perpetually single.

I really like being single. I’m good at it. I know what to expect. I know how to take care of me.

But I also know how wonderful it can be to be in a healthy, balanced relationship. Sure, it’s been long time since I had one of those, but I do remember the early days with Dave and with Max – the cuddling, the handholding, the first birthday spent together, the first road trip. And of course, the joy of sex with someone you really care about.

I told Rick I wasn’t quite ready for the labels yet, but I was getting there. 

I wasn’t seeing anyone else and I found myself thinking about him an awful lot. I felt excited about the possibility of… something… with him. Fortunately, Rick has been wonderfully patient with me every step of the way. He told me that he understood and that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Things changed a couple of days later at Belmont Stakes, the famous horse races.

American Pharaoh Wins the Triple Crown, Rick Wins My Heart

Rick had invited me to join him for the big event. He and his friends are into the racing and betting. Me, on the other hand, well I was tagging along for an excuse to day drink. Oh, and to meet his friends, of course!

I knew absolutely nothing about Belmont or horseracing, which made the day even more exciting for me. We rode two different trains to get out to Belmont Park on Long Island, just outside New York City. When we arrived, I was just in awe.

The facility was huge but still charming, with all kinds of seating both indoors and out. (We were in the Backyard, AKA the cheap seats.) Something about the park felt like a throwback, as if I were in a Disney movie like Mary Poppins. The people watching was incredible! The outfits were Vineyard Vines meets Kentucky Derby. To put it in perspective, there were men wearing seersucker suits and women wearing those huge hats like Kate Middleton wears. The crowd consisted of everything from the super wealthy to the hard up gambling addicts. The energy was palpable as we got closer to American Pharaoh’s shot at winning the Triple Crown.

Given that Rick actually understood what was going on, you would think it would be sort of annoying to be at such a big race with someone as clueless as me. But nope! He proudly introduced me to his two best friends from growing up. As we wandered the grounds, he explained the races and the betting (which was totally intimidating and confusing, hence my gambling all of about $25) so that I might appreciate the madness. And the entire time, Rick held my hand.

I had never seen or done anything like the Belmont Stakes, and I was experiencing it with a kind, loving man who thinks the world of me. How lucky was I?

It was a hell of a day! Even I understood that American Pharaoh’s win was a big deal.  

(Confession: I didn’t get out of my chair to watch that race because I was busy eating a soft pretzel with mustard. I didn’t want all that perfectly good rock salt falling on the ground. My love affair with carbs wins again.)

Much later that night, tired from alcohol and snacks and sun, Rick and I strolled from Penn Station to Grand Central. Hand in hand, I found us talking about my terribly conflicted feelings about motherhood. I won’t share the details of that very personal conversation, but I knew in that moment that things had changed for me. Rick wasn’t just another guy I was dating. This man actually meant something to me. 

It was a big day for a horse, and a big day for this divorcee. 

The next morning, while we laid in bed chatting about nothing in particular with our arms wrapped around each other, Rick paused.

“You are my girlfriend, right?” he asked.
There was only one thing for me to say.


When was the last time that you realized you were in a new relationship?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Art Of Dating Someone Who Is Not "My Type"

Well, this is an interesting twist of events.

I like a guy. Like for real. Like we hold hands and have sleepovers and we have made each other dinner. He calls me “baby” and it doesn’t make me throw up in my mouth. And guess who is not freaking out? THIS GIRL!

Because I actually like this guy – and he digs me, too! – I have been really hesitant to write about him here. In my blog world, someone ends up a punchline (e.g., the guy who dumped me because I’m allergic to dogs, the guy I dumped because he baked me brownies and then he gave me flowers).

But it’s exciting to finally feel this way, some 18 months after I decided I was ready to look for a relationship, so, I have to dish to you, dear readers.

You're not my type! Go away!
Wait, come back! I changed my mind.
As you might remember, I had put dating on the backburner, but I kept Tinder and Hinge on my phone because why not? Swiping left and right can be amusing while you’re waiting for your burrito or whatever. So, one night in late April, I ended up chatting with Rick on Tinder. 

  • Age – My criteria has been maybe a year or two younger or up to 10 years older. He’s 37, so that’s perfect. (And, how weird is this… we have the same birthday!)
  • College educated – Sort of. He didn’t finish undergrad. But, since he’s an electrician, he has a ton of related education and certifications. 
  • Salary – Hard to say, but he definitely has more expenses than I do, which leads me to . . .
  • No roommates – Well, she’s not a roommate. She’s his nine-year-old daughter. Yup, he's a single dad.

No, he wasn’t my usual type, but given that I’ve been single for as long as I have, perhaps my type is worth reevaluating. Rick asked me to continue our conversation over a drink. I said yes.

As I walked into the bar to meet Mr. Tinder, the usual online dating thoughts ran through my head: “Please be cute. Please be smart. Please be normal.”

My dating prayers were answered.

Relief #1 – he looked just like his photos (and he’s actually tall, for real!).  Good, because obviously I thought that he looked cute!

Relief #2 – it was just… easy.

We had a nice mix of small talk and real talk. But the best thing for me was my immediate sense of his warmth. He felt kind and open in a way that you don’t often encounter, especially from a man on a first date.

At the end of our date, he walked me to my car and asked to see me again before I left for my trip to Germany. I agreed. Again, he was not my usual type, but this was fun and so relaxed. He hugged me goodbye, and I got in my car with a big stupid smile on my face. What a gentleman! 

Three days later we met for dinner. Three hours later, he walked me to my car and kissed me in the street. It was a great kiss – that make-me-melt combination of sweet and sexy. I knew I might be getting myself in trouble, and in a good way.

Rick was definitely making me rethink the rules I have been trying to stick to for two years.

Outdoor country concert = best date ever.
Since I returned from my vacation, we have spent as much time together as our schedules (particularly his) allow. Each time that we have hung out, whether it’s date (dinner! bowling! Jason Aldean concert!) or just hanging out at home, we get closer and closer. It’s really cool. I have to admit that despite how very different our lives are (I'm at happy hour while he is coaching his daughter's lacrosse team), we have many similarities in how we view life. We have been able to talk about past relationships (we are both divorced) and our hopes for the future.

Rick is much better at articulating how he feels about me; I’m still guarded. But oh how refreshing to be with a man who is secure enough with himself, his masculinity, and his feelings to be so open! (Ahem, Ryan, take note!) And those other more closed off men were the guys who were "my type" -- at least superficially.

We are both crushing hard. It’s really scary… I have a million questions [fears], particularly because I have never dated someone with a child before. But I'm doing my best to be very present and just go with the flow. 

Next step -- meeting each other's friends. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

By the way, since I’m finally dating someone where I see relationship potential, of course, this means that yesterday Zach contacted me out of the blue to ask me if I wanted to fuck (he never wastes words). Then tonight Jason, the Incredible Sex – who I have not seen in nine months! – texted me to see if I wanted to have a “platonic drink.” I told them both that I’m seeing someone, so no. Much as I love me a good booty call, I would never risk a potential boyfriend for a frivolous fuck or allegedly platonic drink.

Have you dated someone who wasn't your usual type? How did it go?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Very Worst Kinds of Goodbyes

Non sequitur: Here's why I'm asking you to log in with Facebook.

As I sat in the Munich airport after Melanie dropped me off, I thought about how much saying goodbye sucks.

Melanie and I went to Verona, Italy, for two nights.
We just thought this staircase was cool,
so I thought you'd like to see it.
I had just spent a week with Melanie (my first college roommate and quite possibly a soulmate) and her family. We hadn’t seen each other in three years. We understood each other just like we always have, even though since our last visit I got divorced and she and her husband welcomed their second son (my absolutely delicious godson, who’s six months old).

During my visit, we strolled through city and country roads, blabbing nonstop about everything and nothing. Our lives are pretty different now, but that doesn’t matter when the love is there.

As tears rolled down my face and gate change announcements in German blared over the loud speaker, my heart ached terribly. (And why the hell don't I ever have tissues?) It had only been an hour and I already missed my friend something fierce.

What is worse than saying goodbye to someone when you have no idea when you might see them again?

I started thinking about some of my saddest farewells, all of which I now associate with moments of huge emotional growth:

  1. The last day of summer camp as a camper. There is something just magical about the friendships I formed at sleepaway camp, as if each day were a year of hugs and inside jokes and arguing. It didn’t matter what kind of towns were from or what sort of grades we got in school. At camp, those superficial barriers were all but gone so we could connect based on who we were on the inside. Oh, how I used to sob on the bus ride back home after camp!
  2. The last day of summer camp as a counselor. In 2002, I was a volunteer counselor at a camp for kids with HIV. There was one 13-year-old in particular with whom I really bonded (probably too much, in hindsight). I knew she had a really screwed up home life in addition to having HIV. She and I both cried our faces off on that last day of the session. To this day I still think of her and pray that she is healthy and that she stayed out of trouble. Sadly, I have no idea what happened to her.
  3. Leaving my exchange family in St. Petersburg, Russia. In high school, I participated in an exchange program with a family, and I really connected with the student, Yulia, who was my age. We were fortunate enough to see each other several times between 1996 and 2002, but I have not seen her in 13 years. I still remember Yulia’s blue eyes turning a stinging red with tears as we clung to each other, promising that this wasn’t good bye, it was “see you later.” (She did recently find me on Facebook! Praise the World Wide Web.)
  4. The day when Max and I sold our condo. After living in separate bedrooms for almost a year, our condo finally sold in September of 2013. After we signed the paperwork, we went to lunch a beerhouse that we used to frequent in our early days of dating. When it was time to go our truly separate ways with two separate sets of house keys, I cried in the parking lot. [Are you sensing a theme with all of this crying?] For the first time in eight years, I had no idea when I might see Max again. This wasn’t necessarily bad, but certainly unsettling.

As my plane flew west over Europe, I dabbed my eyes on my cocktail napkin.

I realized that there is something worse than saying goodbye when you don’t know when you’ll see them again.

Those other goodbyes were so difficult because I wasn’t just anxious wondering when I would see these people again – it was if I would see them again.

With certain people in your life, you know that it’s never a questions of if; it’s always a matter of when. Melanie is one of those people.

What are some of the hardest goodbyes that you have had to say?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Do You Miss Me? I'll Be Back Soon!

I am writing from one of my bestest friend's guest room in her home outside Munich, Germany!

My love affair with carbs goes international.
Leading up to this trip, I had a busy week with two dates with the same guy (!), figuring out where the heck I left my passport, and last ditch effort workouts before departing for my long awaited reunion with Melanie, one of my college roommates. And, I got to meet her six-month-old son -- my godson!

The last time I saw her in person was three years ago, right after my ex-husband told me he was not attracted to me and before I accepted the inevitability of divorce. Amazing how different my life is now.

Anyway, I miss you, dear readers, and I will post as soon as I return from my trip! Tschüss!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Want to Know Why You Have to Log In With Facebook?

Dear reader,

If you’re a returning reader of my blog, I love you!, and allow me to explain the new Facebook login.

As you might remember, I have had some issues in the past with people from my real life – and I’m not talking selected friends and family–  reading my blog. While this is certainly flattering, it also makes me very self-conscious.

The reason why I love blogging is because I don’t hold back. I have shared everything from my raw post-divorce pain to my first sex (finally!) to getting dumped (more than once!). For me to write freely about my life and the lessons I’m trying so hard to learn, I can’t be worrying about what others think. I need to write for me, and it’s a huge bonus if you read what I write and even more awesome if you connect to my words.

This is an icky way to feel when writing about
really personal crap.
The past few months, I have gotten word again that people who know me – but I don’t necessarily know them – are reading my blog. It's a mind fuck; this feels like a cross between being someone walking in on you masturbating and getting caught crying when you thought no one could hear you.

These are not people I would talk to about heartbreak or orgasms in real life, so I am not comfortable with those people reading my blog. 

Lucky for me, I have a genius programmer friend who would be an amazing criminal if he weren’t an upstanding guy. He has been super supportive of my writing and this blog. When I told him how upset I was about the situation and that I was considering pulling the plug on my blog, he wouldn’t have it. Instead, he came up with this great solution: require a Facebook login simply so I can know who’s stopping by my blog. If there are visitors that I’m not comfortable with, I can talk to them directly. He built it, and here we are! (I told you I have awesome friends.)

So, this is why you are now being asked to log in with your Facebook account. 

To be clear:
  • I will never friend you
  • I will never post anything on your wall
  • I will never invite you to play Candy Crush with me (is that what people are playing?)
I know it’s annoying to log in, but know how much I appreciate your readership and comments, so I hope you will stay with me despite this extra login step.

Have any questions or concerns about logging in? Leave them in the comments and either I or my genius friend will respond.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

From Happy Hour to a Lap Dance: How I Earned My Hangover

It started off innocently enough. On Friday after work , Yoshi, Connor, and I were going to happy hour at our neighborhood bar.

“Now, Yoshi, I only want like one glass of wine. Two at the most. Not our usual happy hour turns into staying out until 11.”

But do you think I’d be writing about a typical happy hour? Of course not.

One glass of wine turned into three. Oh, and there was some tequila. (The tequila wiped out poor Yoshi early.) By this point, my empty stomach and boozy head was up for anything.

Connor gave me a sly look.

“Want to go to a strip club?” 

I had never gone to a strip club, but I have always thought it could be fun under the right circumstances. My conservative, sexually mute ex-husband would never, ever have would have participated in something so sexually overt, so I never bothered to ask.

Going to a strip club on a random night with my friend and two of his buddies – were these the right circumstances for my strip club experience? Conditions were not totally ideal. I was in my work clothes; let's just say I wouldn't have picked a cardigan for the occasion. Also, I have been told it’s best to go see strippers with someone you’d want to get it on with later, but there was zero chance of that with the guys I was going with. No matter. You know how I answered Connor.

“Sure, let’s go!”

We grabbed some sandwiches then off we went. There I was, 35-years-old sitting the middle seat of a cab with three guys in their 20s. Going to a strip club. Because WHY THE HELL NOT.

As we walked in to the club I was excited but kind of nervous. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. 

Would it be skeevy? 
Was it weird that I was going and without a boyfriend/special friend? 
Was I going to feel ugly/fat/unsexy?

The answers turned out to be: no, no, and no! The place was remarkably not gross. It was pretty clean and the clientele mostly looked like normal guys. There were a handful of women, and they looked pretty normal too.

We took our seats next to the stage/walkway thing, right by the pole. (Wow, so stripper poles are a real thing?!) Connor handed me a gigantic pile of ones. I guess I had a confused expression on my face, because he felt the need to state the obvious.

“Kat, you tip with that.”

Oh, right. That.

With a couple of dollar bills in hand, I started watching nearly naked women strut, crawl, and pole dance. (I kept thinking of that Wyclef song, Perfect Gentleman.)

I turned to Connor, my eyes huge. “Holy shit! Look at her ass! Her legs! How can she do that in those shoes? I did NOT expect the women to be so hot!”

He grinned. Silly, naïve Kat!

I stared at the strippers. I stared at the patrons. I was utterly un-subtle about the entire experience, but I couldn’t stop! There was so much to take in.

At some point, I was told it was time to go to the VIP room. (Good thing I trust Connor, because I was so buzzed with booze and amazing people watching that all I could do was follow his lead.)

Next thing I knew, I was getting a lap dance from a beautiful Eastern European woman. 

There’s no doubt that I’m straight, but damn. She was insanely hot and it was a full contact lap dance. (But dammit, I was going to be going home alone!) I was too shy to get really into it but I have to say, I really enjoyed the experience!

After my lap dance, I took a moment to just look around this so-called VIP room. 

I have never seen anything like it. The room was electric with erotic energy. Gorgeous women were on top of men of all shapes and sizes, grinding, dancing, giving bedroom eyes. I was just fascinated. My sexual experiences have been at least somewhat private, and here were all these people getting themselves warmed up for who knows what.

It’s been almost three years since my ex-husband told me he was not attracted to me and I realized I had to get out of my sexless relationship. I guess I still have moments of shock that the world is indeed full of men who are comfortable with their sexuality and are not afraid to express their desires.

And thank goodness, because that is HOT!

At closing time, we hopped in a cab and headed back downtown for the food trucks. As we stood in line for gravy fries, I marveled at my totally unexpected evening. We started at my old reliable watering hole, then ended up getting a lap dance, and now we were back where we started getting snacks.

Walking arm-in-arm, Connor and I walked/stumbled back to our respective homes. I collapsed into bed. It had been a hell of a night.

The next day, when I was lying in bed hideously hungover, I kind of didn’t mind. I had earned this hangover! My hangover was the price you pay for a night of a new experience – one I never would have had if I were still with my ex.

What is a wild post-breakup experience you had?

Our Three Peas

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'm Going to be a Fabulous Godmother

Here's my big sister and me chilling with my beloved godfather.
(Notice the beer and cigarettes behind me!)
In 1980, my Catholic parents asked their friend of a couple of years, Frank, to be my godfather. They could have asked one of my uncles, my Pop-Pop, or another friend, but no, they choose Frank. For the next 23 years, he truly never got over the thrill of having been asked.

Frank was an unlikely candidate for my parents’ friendship or my spiritual guide. He was a trucker who swore and cussed. He drank too much wine/margaritas/Tia Maria and lived in ratty t-shirts. He referred to his ex-wife only as The Bitch.

Despite that rough around the edges exterior, Frank had the biggest heart. Contrary to his politically incorrect humor, Frank viewed the world through his big blue eyes as being full of friends he had yet to meet. He loved and he loved big.

And he was my godfather. Mine! Of course he loved my parents and my siblings, but they could only call him “friend.” I got to call him “friend” AND “godfather.” That made me special.

Maybe in part because he didn’t have kids of his own, Frank always made me feel incredibly important, like no kid in the history of the universe was as awesome as I was. He would clap his hands together in delight and tell me how cool I was. He was endlessly amazed by my fabulousness. Can you imagine how that felt – for him and for me?

I have so many wonderful memories with Frank, like riding in his boat on the Atlantic Ocean, eating French toast at his house after my family had slept over, and smoking a cigarette with him and my dad (my dad! smoking!) on my 21st birthday.

But more than any of these moments, I will always remember Frank’s catchphrase with me.

Frank would ask me, “Who loves you?!” I would get super embarrassed and roll my eyes. So he’d say it again, amused by my embarrassment. “Who loves you?!” I would give in and say, “You do.”

As I got older, I wasn’t embarrassed to say I loved him. Instead, I would kind of shout my response! I wanted the world to know what Frank meant to me.

He would grin from ear to ear and laugh and say, “Ha! You’re cool.”

The day Frank died, I lost my number one fan. It's been 11 years and I still miss him terribly.

Given my relationship with my beloved godfather, I have always wanted to be a godmother. However, since realizing that I'm not down with Jesus and therefore am no longer religious, I figured I had no shot at being a godmother. 

I'll try to be as cool as this lady.
Well, I am honored to share that in the past five months, I have been asked twice to be a [non-Catholic] godmother!

The day her son was born – and what would have been my fifth wedding anniversary – my dear friend Melanie asked me over FaceTime from her hospital room in Germany if I would be her son’s godmother. (I will meet him in May!) And then, last week, I stood with my two-year-old niece during her child dedication ceremony and promised to love and support her through her spiritual journey.

It is a great honor of being asked to play a dedicated role in a person’s spirituality (Catholic or otherwise). Now, I am understanding more and more why Frank was so thrilled at having been asked to be my godfather. Especially since I don’t have children of my own, I am grateful for my roles as godmother and aunt.

Now it’s my turn to embarrass my godson, goddaughter, and nieces and nephews when I ask them, “Who loves you?!”

Have you been asked to play a special role in someone else's family? How did it make you feel?