Sunday, August 31, 2014

#385 Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

As Neil Sedaka sang in the 60s, breaking up is hard to do.  (Yes, I know who Neil Sedaka is and I do really like him.)  As I mentioned in my previous post, I have recently gone through this.  Let me give you my thoughts on breaking up in general. 

It’s not an easy thing to go through, whether you are the breaker or the breakee.  Personally, I would rather be the breakee because I don’t like to make anyone upset.  I would rather be upset than cause someone else to be upset.  But it does suck more to be the breakee. 

That being said, I feel that the best way to break up with someone is to talk to them about it.  Actually talk.  Not text.  Not email.  TALK.  Not only is it just more personal, sometimes the intent of what was typed is lost.  People interpret things differently.  There is no chance to stop someone and ask what they mean, to have that back-and-forth conversation. 

Whether you do this in person or over the phone is subject to the situation.  The long-distance relationship is a difficult beast.  If someone is coming to visit, do you want break up with them and then be really uncomfortable the rest of the time?  Do you fake it until the last day and then break up with them?  Yikes.  So depending on how long you’ve been together, I think that talking by phone can be acceptable. 

My one long-distance relationship ended with a phone call at 11:30 p.m.  We had dated around eight months and had known each other since college (we even dated briefly in college – his break-up then went well and we stayed friends).  This person knew I went to bed around 10 p.m.  Strike one:  he woke me up.  Then he told me it wasn’t working out and said, “It’s not you, it’s me.”  Strike two:  really??!!!  Did he just say that?  He ended the call telling me to sleep well.  Strike three:  thanks for that.  I’m out.  I was upset and livid at the same time.  Needless to say, I did not sleep well that night.  And I never spoke to him again. 

Let’s contrast that with another situation in which I had dated someone about six weeks.  He called and asked if he could come over to talk.  I thought something was up, but really didn’t expect to break up since things had been going well.  He talked to me about it and even though I was sad it ended, I wasn’t angry because he was upfront about it.  He then said he was surprised I hadn’t yelled at him, thrown something at him or hit him.  That was what he had been used to when breaking up with women.  This man had the balls to talk to me about it even though he was expecting physical violence.  What a guy!  The weirdest part of the night was that I offered him ice cream.  I’m not sure why, but we ended up sitting on the sofa with bowls of ice cream.  I’m sure he left thinking that was the strangest breakup he’d ever had.  We kept in touch a little and at one point one of us (I really don’t remember) suggested that if neither of us was married in five years, we should get married.  That date came and went almost three years ago.  I still think he’s a great guy with a huge heart.  See, that’s what can happen if you have a civil breakup.  I still smile when I think of him and he probably tells people about the one girl he broke up with who gave him ice cream. 

Now that we know the best way to break up with someone, what do you tell them?  The truth?  A variation of the truth?  Lie through your teeth?  I believe it’s always best to tell as much of the truth as you feel they need to know.  If it’s only been a few dates and they don’t kiss well or they have some weird hygienic habits, tell them you just don’t feel that certain “something” when you are with them.  It’s partly true but you spare their feelings.  If it’s been several weeks or months, and you are more invested in them, there must be something that makes you not be able to move forward with them.  Maybe you’re not on the same page with marriage, kids, sex, religion, etc.  In that case, honesty is the best policy.  Tell them your concerns and that you don’t think it will work in the long run.  Sounds simple, yes.  It’s always hard to put it into practice, but it’s the best way.  Odds are they will appreciate your honesty after some time has passed. 

What is the lesson here? If you break up with someone, they are going to be sad.  If you do it in a classy way, they will be more understanding and (hopefully) not be angry. 

I continue to learn from each of my relationships.  From my long-distance break up I learned to be careful when you tell someone you don’t want to be in touch with them anymore.  Sometimes you get what you ask for and you can’t take it back.  Although at that time I felt it was the best thing for my own self-preservation. 

From my most recent breakup I tried to tread a bit more carefully, but wish I had not fallen into the text/email trap.  As an update, Bachelor No. 1 did text me after reading about himself on my blog.  I should have texted him to call me if he wanted to talk about it, but I sent an email response expressing my disappointment in how he handled things.  His final response was that enough had been said.  Well, I guess that’s it then.  He got what he wanted in not having to actually face me.  As much as I wish things could have ended on better terms, the end result would be the same. 

I will take a moment to say that in the future I will wait at least a month to blog about someone with which I have had a relationship.  One-date-and-done is fair game for an immediate blog.  Knowing someone for several weeks/months warrants letting more time pass to reflect on everything.  I also regret that I called him a name.  That was very childish and I was trying to get back at him, since I figured he would read it.  I will keep my nicknames to myself from now on. 

I would also like to address my last post and the possible perception that I jump from guy to guy with no feelings.  First of all, this is the only time in my life when I have encountered this situation.  Second, just because I may switch gears to focus my attention on another man does not mean that I don’t still have feelings for the prior.  We only dated for two months but I was starting to fall for him and I do care about him as a person.  Even though I don’t agree with how he handled things, he is a good person.  And by no means do I expect perfection of anyone.  I am not perfect myself.  I am capable of forgiveness.  I don’t hold grudges.  Well, rarely.  (Just being honest.)  But I do believe I am capable of having a disagreement and leaving it in the past. 

If you remember anything, remember this:  in any situation (romantic or otherwise) it’s best to treat the other person as you would like to be treated.  The old Golden Rule has been around a long time for a reason.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  How would you feel if they did that to you?  Suck it up and treat them with the respect they deserve.  You both will sleep better. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

#384 The Bachelorette

Hi rose lovers!  I recently finished watching the latest season of The Bachelorette and am now plunging into the mind-numbing show that is Bachelor In Paradise, so thought I’d channel my inner bachelorette for this post.  I am a bachelorette, as you know. 

I have watched every episode of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad.  Now they are airing Bachelor In Paradise.  What is this world coming to?  And why do I keep watching?  It’s just too fascinating to not watch.  And in a small way I’m living vicariously through these people.  While watching the beginning of the past Bachelorette season with Andi, I remember thinking, “I could never walk into a room of 25 random guys and think one of them could be my husband.”  Why not?  Because 25 random guys would be too short for me.  Truth. 

So I set off on my summer hoping once again that I would meet someone to have some summer fun with.  Lo and behold, I did!  Here’s the story.   

I was preparing for my first bike ride of the summer (Post #378) when I received an email from a former co-worker about a guy she currently works with.  He complained to her that he never meets any tall women.  He’s 6’8”.  She told him about me and eventually we got each other’s emails.  We emailed, talked and then met for a date.  It went very well.  Then I promptly left for a week for vacation. 

While at Bike Virginia (I haven’t posted anything on this ride yet) I met two more tall guys.  When it rains, it pours, right?  One was 6’6” and 290 (big boy) and 55.  He lives in North Carolina.  The other looked like he was in his late 40s maybe early 50s (I’m a terrible judge of age sometimes), 6’4”-ish and from Virginia.  I spent part of two days riding with each.  Both are attractive and very nice.  But I had such a great time with Bachelor No. 1, I played it cool with Nos. 2 and 3.  (Bachelor No. 2 was pretty forward.  No. 3 was pretty low key himself and just said if I was ever in Virginia again to give him a call.)  So Bachelor No. 1, will you accept this rose? 

He did, for a while.  We saw each other pretty much every weekend, despite our busy schedules.  Then I left for camp and things got weird.  I let him know that I wouldn’t be able to use my phone around the campers so would be incommunicado.  His response (via text):  “It’s ok.  Neither of us will keel over dead.”  (This came three days after us seeing each other and everything being hunky dory.)  Okaaay.  I could read the writing on the wall (I’m not stupid) but I played it off.  I sent some “test” texts a couple times at camp and got very blunt responses so finally asked what was wrong.  He was “a little unsure of things” and said we could talk when I got home.  After I got home he asked if we could wait until early the following week (last week).  Well, it’s now the beginning of the next week and I haven’t heard a peep.  Apparently he doesn’t want another rose.  I admit that I’m disappointed he didn’t bother to discuss his unsureness with me, but I’m fine with it.  Closure is overrated. 

After we had been dating about a month I asked the Putz (my new name for him) if he was disappointed that I hadn’t written a blog about him yet.  (He told me he’d read/skimmed my entire blog before we actually met.  He found it googling me.)  He said no, that I only blogged about guys after breaking up and he didn’t want to jinx anything.  Since he had no desire to man up and talk to me about why he didn’t want to date me anymore, I’m sure he’s not reading my blog anymore either.  But just in case he is, here is my message to him:  It’s ok, I won’t keel over dead. 

Which brings me to Bachelor No. 2 (Tarheel).  He has called me periodically after Bike Virginia.  I told him about the Putz after I got home and things had continued to go well with him, and that we could be friends.  (I am a one-at-a-time kind of gal.)  Tarheel is nice and cute, and he bikes.  But we live in different states and only spent a day together, so there is a lot to learn about him.  Time will tell. 

Stay tuned, rose-lovers! 

#383 Into The Mystic

At The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, every volunteer counselor must take an eight-hour rest period during the week.  You can take it in the morning (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) or in the evening (3 p.m. to 11 p.m.).  Last year I didn’t want to take my rest period because I didn’t want to miss any part of camp and I wasn’t tired.  Too bad - they make you.  So I rested in my room most of the time.  Bo-ring. 

This year I wanted to take a little adventure.  I found out Mystic, Connecticut is only an hour’s drive from Ashford so my goal was to drive there.  Why Mystic?  Why, “Mystic Pizza” of course!  It’s one of my favorite 80s movies.  My only problem?  Transportation. 

Volunteers fly into Hartford Airport and someone from camp arranges to pick them up.  I started chatting with driver Carly and mentioned wanting to drive to Mystic.  She immediately offered her car on the days she was working.  And mentioned she has a Mini Cooper convertible.  Yes, please! 


To work around her off days I chose the morning of the first full day of camp (Thursday) instead of waiting for midweek to have a true break.  It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day.  I grabbed her keys from the table where she left them and walked to the parking lot next to the horse barn.  I didn’t bother to ask her what color her car was.  How many Mini Cooper convertibles could there be?  Four.  I walked up to the first one – not it.  Second, not it.  Of course it was the last one I tried. 

Once in the car, I adjusted everything.  Seat back, top down (I figured out how to get it partially back), radio.  Took me a while to find the gas gauge (had to make sure I had enough gas to get there, and to fill her up on the way back).  All systems go. 

It was a wonderful drive to Mystic, mostly on two-lane, winding roads.  The countryside is beautiful!  One unexpected sighting on my drive was a sign at a country church that said, “Worrying doesn’t change the outcome.”  That was a message I really needed that day to begin my week with the campers.  The Lord is always looking out for me in little and big ways, and sends me messages just when I need them the most. 

I made it to Mystic with no problems.  I walked around the shops and the river and around 11 a.m. I stopped at Mystic Pizza for lunch.  Nevermind that we had pizza for supper the night before (and little did I know we would make pizza for supper that night at Adventure).  My first slice was the standard pepperoni.  Very good.  Their daily special had white sauce, scallops and bacon.  Very, very good!  I had a nice chat with a regular at the bar who had lived there since he was four.  (And was really cute, by-the-way.)  He gave me more information about the movie when I mentioned my pilgrimage.  I even drove a bit further to Stonington Borough, where more filming took place.  After the movie was released, the current site of the original Mystic Pizza was renovated to resemble the movie set.  There are photos all over the inside.  I only saw the bar area, but there is a restaurant area as well. 

I wish I had more time to spend in Mystic and the surrounding area.  There is an Old Mystic area and I didn’t go there at all.  They also have kayak rentals.  Maybe next year. 

While walking around the shops I kept my eye out for a nice souvenir of my quick time there.  I like to do that in certain places.  No t-shirts or hats, or any tchotchke. And if I don’t see anything that grabs my attention, no big deal.  I hit all the main streets and I’d about given up.  Then I walked down a side street to The Art Garden.  Lots of stuff.  Jewelry, beads, scarves.  LOTS of stuff.  Then I spotted a silver bracelet of four fish hooked together.  Very unique.  I tried it on (I always try on jewelry to see how it looks and especially bracelets to make sure I can put them on by myself).  Hmmm.  Very nice.  I asked about the metal – Turkish silver (or so she said).  Very quirky designer the owner said.  I asked his name but she didn’t know (?).  Not too expensive.  I decided to get it.  It hit the mark in several areas.  Mystic is a seaport town so the fish were appropriate.  The camp theme for my week was Cat In The Hat.  One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.  Yes!  And fish are a Christian symbol.  Perfect! 

After lunch I took a photo of the library for my favorite librarian Mary, got back in my car, did a quick drive through of Stonington Borough, and headed back to camp.  A lovely morning driving into the Mystic. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#382 Never Stop Climbing

I just returned from my second year of working as a counselor at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp.  (Post #351)  I had so much fun last year that I decided to do it again! 
The Newman cabin
Last year I described how camp works and all of the activities.  This year I will talk more about the relationships that are formed and my feelings about camp.  I can’t give any camper names but will give some general information. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s difficult for first-time female volunteers to get in.  Once you get in, they hold a spot for you for the next years.  But if you skip a year, you lose that spot.  So in looking at my vacations for the year, I knew something had to give, and I thought it would be camp.  I like to carry over a few days as a cushion and with my bike trips and other things that popped up (BCS game, Auburn reunion), I was pushing it.  After crunching the days again I decided I had just enough days to do it.  Although afterward, I thought I had made a mistake.  Maybe I was pushing myself to do too much.  Maybe I would have gotten lucky in 2015 and gotten right in again.  I should have saved those days.  I later realized how blessed I was to be at camp again.  But I am skipping ahead…

After the volunteer orientation (Volley-O) I felt a lot less overwhelmed than I did last year.  However, I was surprised that I still had thoughts of not returning.  The first couple of days are a bit scary for everyone, campers and counselors.  Who will be in my cabin?  Will they like me?  How will everyone get along?  Those feelings don’t change as you get older.  You do gain confidence more quickly and it becomes easier, but those base feelings of inadequacy are still there.  At least they are for me.  But after the girls arrived we settled into our routines and had a blast. 

This year my campers were 13 and 14 year old girls.  We were supposed to have eight total, but two couldn’t come at the last minute.  With six girls and five main counselors, we didn’t have to worry much about coverage.  Four had (or were in remission from) cancer.  One of these also had diabetes.  The other had mitochondrial disease, which basically makes her tire easily.  The description we were given is running a 4-cylinder engine on 2 cylinders.  She was really active, but she rode in a cart for long distances to conserve her energy. 
No paparazzi!
They all had great attitudes.  One had a difficult experience at camp last year due to cliques, etc. but she came back for another round and really enjoyed her time year.  It helped that one of the volunteer counselors was her main counselor last summer. 

We spent the week doing the usual activities, but we also braided hair (again and again – “Can anyone fishtail braid?”) and painted lots of fingernails.  It was also important to wear the right outfit.  And have the “natural smoky eye” for awards night.  (Is there such a thing?)  As much as the girls love all of the activities, I think just hanging out in the cabin is great for them too.  Just goofing off, laughing, talking, etc. 

This summer’s theme is Never Stop Climbing.  The girls did a great job at that.  They all tried new things.  One had never ridden a horse.  I went out in a paddle boat with her also.  We didn’t last long, but we did it.  She also caught a fish!  And talent?  These girls had oodles of it.  Three got up on stage night and sang.  One in particular tugged at my heart.  She sang one of my favorite songs, “Keep Your Head Up.”  Now this girl was very laid back and a bit quiet.  But whenever music came on she knew all the words.  I was surprised she was going to sing at stage night because she had been a bit timid about other activities.  Another counselor was onstage with her and they played the regular song over the speaker, so she didn’t sing totally alone.  But she owned the performance.  When she got to the chorus, she sang, “You gotta keep your head up” and then pointed the mic out to the crowd so we could sing, “Ohhhhhhh” and “Ehhhhhh”.  She really got the crowd into it and it was so amazing to see.  I totally teared up.  I actually teared up a lot on stage night, but this one was one of my girls.  Last year the song on the radio that reminded me of camp was “Cup Song”.  This year it will be “Keep Your Head Up”. 

sign in the horse barn
My fellow counselors this year were Liz, Evann, Amy and Krista, with Dani, Braelynn and Crystal dropping in from their other camp duties.  We had lots of laughs and I even learned a new term – food baby.  I have since learned it’s a well-known term and I’m just behind the times.  (For those like me who had never heard of it, it’s when you eat too much and your stomach feels very full, like you are having a baby.  A food baby!)  Amy is from England so everything she said sounded so proper.  Food baby and water bottle were two favorites. 
we pranked the Blue Unit by putting up some yellow signs on their cabins
After a couple of days the week flew by as usual.  I stayed in LuLu’s Lodge again, which is fine, but my roommate snored.  The first night I slept sporadically and finally got up at 3 a.m. to sleep in the common area on the sofa.  I woke up every hour, it seemed, and finally went back to my bed at 7 a.m.  By then she was quiet.  Sigh.  I slept a little better the rest of the week and she quieted down a little.  Maybe I was just more tired.  Monday night was my turn to sleep in the cabin with the girls.  Ahhhh – peace and quiet!  They were so quiet it was wonderful.  Although the beds are kinda hard and obviously short.  I was never so happy to get back to my comforpedic bed! 

So back to me being blessed to be at camp again this year.  Being a part of this camp is an interesting phenomenon.  You go there thinking you will have an impact on the campers’ lives.  And you do.  But what happens is that they have a bigger impact on your life.  You leave a changed person.  Every time.  And any problems you might have left back home in the real world?  They seem very insignificant compared to the 120+ kids at camp who are confronting potentially life and death battles. 

On the last day of camp all the girls kept talking about wanting just one more day of camp.  But then if you gave them one more day, they’d want another day, and another, and camp would never end.  Actually, they would love that.  I wish we all could live in a mini camp bubble where there are no putdowns, no physical violence and everyone knows how to have fun.  At camp we talk about taking the spirit of camp with you out into the real world.  I will do my best to do that.  And I hope to visit that magical place next summer.  Until then, never stop climbing!