I'm doing the online dating thing. There. Full confession (or will be...If I find I have the nerve). As an informal student of the human spirit and the different ticking of the man/woman psyche, I had been intrigued by this popular phenomena -- but from a distance. Then my friend K., noting that we were both floundering, financially and emotionally (very unusual for me, since I am usually Ms. Focused and Driven), in our own disconnected ways, searching for a creative outlet after having undergone our separate big life changes, came to me. She asked if I wanted to join forces and start some sort of business, a nebulous, unformed idea at that time.
Since we were both "into" animals -- she had an ongoing parrot sitting business and I had my business as a certified cat behavior consultant, doing something with this knowledge and experience seemed a no-brainer. But what? Neither of these businesses, although they provided at least part of the nitty gritty to survive, really fulfilled our creative needs to express ourselves -- and make a living through art. So the first idea we discussed was doing some sort of PR business involving animals and animal organization. But this failed to find a real focus.
I have many years of experience in journalism/photography/writing/editing/publishing/copywriting and also getting startups off the ground. And K, with my full admiration, as an adult, got grants and energy together and two years ago was able to finish her Masters in Journalism at the USC School of Journalism -- quite the accomplishment. She had been free-lancing in the seriously underpaid and under-appreciated world of local journalism in the meantime -- a place where no one, except the few staff members or those with a trust fund, could possibly make a living. When she mentioned to me that she had found someone interested and willing to invest in developing a magazine and website regarding singles and did I want to be involved -- I didn't even miss a beat. I said yes! Wow.
A risky, meaty, edgy project with lots of hats for both of us to wear? Just up my alley! Work from home and make my own (night owl, flexible) hours? Yes! And so Singular magazine was born to be nurtured and fed from our passion and lots of hard hard work. K is the boss, with the weight of the worry, the pressures and many of the less "fun" but necessary chores on her shoulders. And I hold up my end as her right hand cohort. Works for me.
In all of this, the topic of being single hit a chord. I had been married to Michael for five years at the end of the 80s, beginning of the 90s. and before that, I had had a long relationship -- 12 years -- with a talented and successful musician in Italy, Patrick. But since then, I had lived alone, mostly happy with my singular existence. I had dated for a bit here and there, had a couple of semi-disastrous relationships (one married guy who I saw for awhile when I was totally nuts, one serious alcoholic, who was incredibly charismatic and also incredibly screwed up) -- which taught me hard lessons in humility, a trait that doesn't come naturally to me. Then there was a "friend with benefits" type of no-strings dinner-then-roll-in-the-hay connection with my friend R. That was the last experience even remotely close to dating. This routine lasted through two years or so of monthly rendezvouses, until it was apparent to me that it really had to end. And I broke it off. I needed to regroup or I needed something more meaningful than the joining of bodies. There was the problem of the mind needing some emotional nourishing too? Darn it anyhow.
Right at the end of that episode ending and a few years ago, I moved out of the city. I had been getting more and more irritable and irritated with the crowds, traffic, congestion, noise. I was tired of hearing my neighbor flush their toilet. I was sick of the police helicopters circling overhead and the popping of guns zinging in the night. I was getting to be an ugly person, one I didn't like. So I moved from my lovely little California Bungalow in Altadena (Pasadena), built in 1910, to to the High Desert in California, to an obscure town called Hesperia. I did find space, tranquillity, clean air, big skies, quiet there. But I also found pretty much of a cultural wasteland (REALLY trying not to be a snob about it, but this seems to be the truth). The place and my big house alone were fine for a couple of years. But then I started craving some of the things I had left behind -- the culture, getting together with friends... attention and interaction with men. Sex, cuddles and pillow talk. I was happy, but restless.
So when we started on the research and development for Singular, it was a logical step that I join an online dating service. Research, I rationalized. I joined Match.com, where K was also a member. She was slightly disillusioned by the whole online dating thing, but her quest and mine were somewhat different. At that time, she was still searching for the white picket fence, the successful guy to sweep her off her feet. To her great credit, since then she has shifted her goals, realized the folly, illusion and lack of personal satisfaction in that objective.
What I wanted is what I had told myself for years - someone to enhance my life, to add something positive. I was picky. I had standards. I had ambitions. I also wanted the physical relationship again (after being celibate for several years -- yes, years!). I had always been a highly sexual person. When I hit menopause, for a time I was under the illusion that I would no longer care about sex. This seemed to me a relief, more than anything. No longer a slave to my desires! Self-sufficient! Yippee!
But then those sexual feelings, to my great amazement, started surfacing once again. I thought about sex. I thought about cuddling AFTER sex. I thought about that warm cocoon feeling, that cotton candy fuzziness, when you are with someone and heads together, talking, really into each other -- and everyone else and everything else fades away. I thought about that electric shock when there is the attraction of mind and body with the guy. I started wanting that again. I was back in the spirit, big time.
So I put up my profile on Match.com, admitting that I did really want to -- or would very much like to in any case - find a partner. The whole process was interesting -- made me really think about what I wanted and why. And I felt insecure about posting photos, and also about putting myself out there, priming for rejection, without being there in person to dazzle, charm and convince. But I did it.
Then I started getting "winks." Winks, to me are the easy way to contact all the girls on the "bus," meaning, a guy can literally put out a call to hundreds of girls, if he likes, with a quick click of the mouse -- all the women who fit into the general search criteria -- and then wait and see who bites. Takes minimal effort and thought. Shouldn't I be someone hand-picked and special, someone who had caught the eye of a specific guy? I had carefully written about my likes, interests, tried to give an insight into who I am. I am quite eclectic, definitely NOT conventional, dislike organized religion (especially the fundamentalist or born-again kind). I wanted someone smart and accomplished. I wanted someone who liked nature and animals. I wanted someone interested in art. I wanted someone with dreams.I wanted someone in reasonably good physical and emotional shape. I definitely didn't want smokers. So who contacted me? Here are a few that stand out in memory -- not necessarily for positive reasons!
A 70 year old guy who lived in the desert, who had lost his wife of 40 years and whose idea of fun and entertainment was to go door to door handing out Watchtower magazine. And for reading, Watchtower was his preferred choice.
A sad guy (smoker) who lived in the mountains near to me. We met for lunch and I could immediately sense that there was no mutual attraction. He radiated his impression of himself as not really worthy of anyone -- although the desperation to prove that wrong was palpable. I mostly did the talking (blabbermouth!), pep talk kind of stuff that he should have been getting from some sort of counselor or therapist. Nice guy, but sad, lonely and not much going for him to change this -- no dreams, ambitions. Kind of a wasted life. Wanting someone to be with him to give validity to his existence. Not me.
A young hunk camera-operator, extreme skier and extreme adventure ski guide in a resort in Utah. We briefly emailed and then he called me. We had a nice conversation, in which I learned about yurts, www.yurt.com, and then the conversation quickly deteriorated (or accelerated?) toward phone sex. I'm not a prude, but wasn't going to go there, thank you very much -- or certainly not right off the bat. He was all for it though :-) This was all new to me. Good for the research part, right?
A dozen or so nondescript average guys who didn't ring my bell in any way. In all fairness, likely their getting in touch with me was only half-hearted too, and just because I was the new kid on the Match-block. We exchanged a few desultory emails, each one getting less enthusiastic as they went and then, gratefully, fizzling after neither of us had invested too much time.
One younger guy, very attractive in photo with whom I had a brief but hot exchange of emails (but no bodily fluids). Never met him and any attempt to encourage an encounter met with evasion. I still hear from this one occasionally - a little query to try to suck me back in. But deep down I really think the guy is married - or is someone so different from his photos and profile that he feels compelled to remain in the shadows.
All of this spinning of the wheels only seemed to whet my appetite for a real connection even further. But it just wasn't happening. That is, until Clark came into the picture...
And now I think I will leave you hanging (cruel of me, I know...) and tell you about Clark and that adventure in the next installment, okay? Even if you say, "not okay!" that is how we are going to leave it... for now. This is my blog after all.