Monthly Archives: September 2015

Messages from Switzerland

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There comes a time when you realize maybe you don’t want to do everything on your own. You’re riding along on life’s adventures seemingly missing nothing; happy to be free and make your own choices. Then something happens…. And you realize, maybe you do need more that your furry cats.

Friday night, as I was curled up on the couch with one of the cats and a giant glass of wine, Facebook Messenger flashed at me. I glanced at the name and thought to myself, “who the hell is that?” It was not a name I recognized right off… Elia. I looked again and it clicked. It was a guy from the gadventures.com forum. When I was planning my Croatia trip, I went on the forum to see who else might be doing the same trip. He replied, but after a few messages, realized he was with the group arriving the day we left. Ok.. Have a good trip! That was that.

But here was this message, 3 months later… “Hi Mary, How was your Croatia trip?” Harmless enough, so I replied. We chit chatted a bit about our trips.

He commented, “Unfortunately, we weren’t on the same trip.” His trip was a YOLO trip, a trip gadventures.com caps at age 39 I think, so I knew he was young. I told him I was too old for his trip.

His reply, “No ur such a good-looking woman. U Look like 24 :).”
Now, I remembered him being from Switzerland, and looking at the clock, realized it was around 3:30 am there. Was I being drunk messaged from Switzerland???

I asked about the time and yes, he had just gotten in from a fun evening of billiards and bowling, so I’m assuming he’d had a few. Ok, a little flattery from someone isn’t a bad thing I guess. Conversation didn’t go much longer than that. So that was interesting.

Saturday rolls around, it’s rainy and I have no plans other than laundry, vacuuming, cat brushing… I thought I would be funny and shoot him a message asking if he got his sleep…. Not expecting a reply. Well, I started a conversation that went the entire day. He was messaging me while I worked on my blog at the coffee shop (later he asked if I blogged about our conversation… )

During the course of this, I discover he is all of 21 years old. YIKES!!!!! I was thinking he was at least 26…not that that’s any better. He was interesting to chat with, very polite and funny, travels a lot… he actually looks like Chandler Bing – I’m not kidding in the least about that. But 21????? Lord. I asked if he realized I was old enough to be his mother. Yes, but he didn’t care because we really didn’t know each other and we are on different continents and he enjoys talking to older, mature women…..Hmmm… Is that European thing?

Now let me say right now… I AM NOT A COUGAR!!! I would never go out with anyone in their twenties, they have to at least be 35 (I kid, let’s make it 38..). But I have to confess, it’s been fun chatting with him. He’s very sweet and he really knows what to say to a girl (mature woman) and what not to say. It felt good.

100103WomenDatingYoungerMenIs it wrong to be friends with someone of the opposite sex who is much younger? I have girlfriends that are much younger than me and that’s not a problem. I think talking with people from different places and different ages keeps things interesting. Besides, at this point in my life, if I want to go out with other singles… most of them will be younger… that’s just reality. Why is it so weird when the female is the older person? I like to think of myself as young at heart. Maybe, because I don’t have children, I am more open-minded about these types of situations? I don’t know.

Just having someone express an interest lifted my spirits on a yucky, rainy day. It also irritates me though… where was a guy like this when I was 21? Ugh.. So, thank you Elia, you have made me think. Maybe I am missing something. I’ve been so preoccupied with being a happy, “I don’t need a man”, single woman, that your cheeky charm caught me way off guard. I am happy and it’s been a good year with new adventures, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had someone say nice things to me, make me laugh and feel desirable. Yes, it’s a little creepy if I think about the age (I’m pretending he’s older) I haven’t completely lost my mind, but it makes me question if this is my sign that it’s time to enter the dating world again? Maybe so.

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Rainy, Saturday aftenoon

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There is something to be said for rainy Saturday afternoons. I don’t feel guilty sleeping in and lounging on the couch for a while. However I do seem to be more productive as far as domestic duties: laundry done, vacuuming done, cats brushed. I can relax.

I’ve ventured across the street to the Starbucks. Getting my pumpkin spice latte fix. I did remember to order decaf…. I would never go to sleep with a regular and the red wine I plan on drinking later. It’s funny, places like this used to be places to meet and talk to people. Now, we are all just plugged in; faces downcast and stuck in our electronic devices. It’s a wonder we still know how to make eye contact with other humans….or do we? I’m not sure if people really know how to start a conversation with anyone any more. In fact, the girl beside me seems to be having a conversation with herself (after a very loud telephone conversation). Now I do that on occasion, but not in public! Where do we go to have conversations with people?

It is an interesting place to people watch. It’s also fun trying to determine if people are meeting for the first time.. Online dating meet ups: both looking a little stiff and nervous, clutching their cups like life depended on it, with perm-a-grins and anxious giggles. Been there done that.

A lot of teenagers here. Hoping they are drinking decaf … The line has not stopped since I arrived. We are a population of over caffeinated, device junkies.

An older gentleman has parked beside me. He looks like the professor type: cardigan sweater, loafers, gray, wavy hair pulled into a pony tail. He’s on his IPad too… doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in saying hello.

The artsy type has come in now. Two girls. Very short hair, leggings with funky tops. One with shiny metallic silver booties.. Ah to be young. I suppose I could do that… I would be called the old weirdo…or eccentric older type. Is being eccentric good or bad?

A group of older ladies (meaning older than me) are chatting away.  They are very animated.  One lady has large, dark-rimmed glasses and has the most infectious smile.  They are enjoying the laid back day too.

Watching the 3 baristas, they are like a well-oiled machine. Even they don’t seem to need much conversation between them, as they delve out the cappuccinos, lattes, teas and cocoas.

The rain has stopped for the moment. More people are out and about. I may actually venture around to the bookstore. I may even take a nap when I get home, before I pour that glass of wine and hunker down on the couch for a movie.  It’s an exciting day.

My Wish for You, My Single Friend…

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Last night, as I was perusing Facebook, I came across the following on Adventuresforsingles.com Facebook page:

stop looking

I followed in my comments:

FB comment

This is what I’ve been doing for the past year. Not thinking about dating, instead, focusing on me and doing what makes me happy.

I was catching up on some of the bloggers I follow and came across a post from yogini.sharon on her blog Midlife Moments. Now it’s funny, as I’ve been reading her blog, I found we share a lot of commonalities. After some exchange of comments, she agrees. We are two single ladies, on our own and finding what makes us happy in life besides having a partner; realizing there are other loves beside romantic love. We are learning how to find courage, strength, security and passion within ourselves and the world around us. Her post was truly wonderful and there is no way I could write it any better so I’m sharing her post. Even if you are not single, take a few minutes to read it. It is truly a beautiful reminder to love oneself and to find happiness in what you do have.   Thank you Sharon, my twin in Louisiana, for such an insightful letter…

Midlife Moments

It was overcast all day

I have a friend who is newly single. I watched as she navigated her break-up with her significant other. I supported her as she went through the initial stages of grief .. anger .. bargaining .. denial … depression … acceptance. I let her talk … and cry .. and vent … and held her in my heart as the fear … that fathomless fear …. of being alone crashed into her world. She is through the worst of the initial stuff and is settling into her single life. I, as a single woman and a writer, seem to her like a guide that can help her to step into being single and have a full life regardless of whether or not that space in her bed is ever filled again. My friend, I may seem like a guide that does it with grace, but know that everything you feel…

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Yes, Tiny houses have bathrooms

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Intrigued may not have been the correct word… obsessed may be more accurate…

And yes, tiny houses do have bathrooms – any style you want.

tiny house bathroom 2  tiny house bathroom 3 rustic bathroom

I can’t stop Googling Tiny Houses.. there are so many in all different shapes and sizes… from very basic and rustic to über modern and sleek.

rustic 2 rustic tiny house

modern tin 1 Modern tiny house

And just quirky…

unusual 1 unusual 3 dr suess house

Whatever your heart desires.

And the use of space is incredible.  Tons of time spent planning, making use of every space.

stair drawers kicktoe kitchen storage

Well.. if I were to build a tiny house… it wouldn’t be on wheels.. I would opt for something more along the lines of this…

small house

I could spend hours on Pinterest looking at stuff and another site I’ve been frequenting is:  http://www.tinyhouseswoon.com

http://tinyhouseblog.com   is interesting too.

But again, I’m just thinking out loud… Its fun to think of the possibilities.

Everyone have a fantastic weekend.

 

 

 

Tiny Houses

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For some reason I’ve become intrigued with tiny houses. Apparently it’s a new movement. People are trying to simplify their lives by downsizing … And I mean really down sizing, their homes, possessions and debts. Large homes have been a sign of success and status, but people are tired of being stressed with debts and large mortgages.  A lean towards living greener, more sustainable lifestyles is becoming more important to individuals as well.

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The typical tiny house is anywhere from 100 to 400 sq. ft. The typical American house is over 2000 sq ft. That’s quite a big difference. If your tiny house is mobile, then it’s probably not much over 120 sq ft so it is towable…Which brings me to this question. If you want to move around and travel, why not just buy an RV? I mean that is what they are made for. I also read that most mobile tiny house owners really do not move very much. Maybe because a lot of RV parks do not allow them due to height restrictions. So, unless you have your own piece of land, where are you going to put it? And then there still maybe restrictions.

Aside from wondering where in the hell I would park one, it is interesting to think of life without a mortgage! The typical cost, depending on your tastes of course, can range anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. However, you may have a hard time getting a bank to finance it if you can’t pay for it straight out. But besides that, some are pretty cool and the idea that I could be happy in less than 200 sq ft without a lot of stuff, little, if no mortgage, giving me more money to travel, is something to ponder.

I grew up in a one story, 3 bedroom, 1 bath house, with 5 people. Families these days would flip out at the mention of 1 bathroom and we didn’t have a den either. We were always right there together .. For better or for worse. But, we survived. I do not miss my 3 bedroom, 2 bath house I sold. The 3rd bedroom just became a place to put stuff .. Stuff I rarely used. I got rid of so many things when I moved. Why on earth did I still have a box of cassette tapes with nothing to play them on or a Walkman?? I think the Goodwill near my house was full of just my stuff. Now mind you, my apartment is a good size. The only spaces I gave up where a bedroom and a garage.

So could I really downsize to something smaller? It would call for a lot of compromising. I’ve always said I wanted a bigger kitten. That certainly wouldn’t happen in a tiny house. I do like having a place for guests to stay; that could get tight in 120 sq ft, and I love my books, which do take up space. Would a Christmas tree fit in a tiny house? Hmmmm

But still, when I look at some of these tiny houses online and on TV (two shows on now about them..), I’m just in awe. The creativity and thought put into the spaces are wonderful. So many homes and apartments now just feel like you’re living in a square box; no personality. I like character in a space, which is maybe the reason I like my stuff. My stuff shows my personality. What would I be willing to give up? Would definitely have to get rid of some shoes… And jackets…and well, just a lot of clothes in general. oh, and my stash of wonderfully aromatic candles.

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It’s  really funny that I’m even interested in this. When I look at condos for sale and they are under 900 sq ft, I immediately write them off as too small. Now that makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? I was at a friends condo a while back, one bedroom, one bath with a combined living and kitchen space and I was like, “Wow, this is small.” Two of them were living there. They were only renting, and have since bought a large house…

People in large cities, namely New York, who are relegated to small studio apartments due to cost and space limitations, must think this tiny house movement is insane. They’ve been micro living for decades. Why would people who can spread out, cramp themselves into tiny spaces? Is it a case of just wanting something you don’t have?

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So this is all fun to think about and look at. And I like to picture myself as a well-organized, green-thinking individual, doing what I can to reduce my ecological footprint on this earth.. But, yeah that’s pretty much all in my head.  I live in my head a lot.

 

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“102 Minutes that Changed America”

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I hadn’t planned on spending my evening like this, but I was flipping channels and landed on the History Channel. Everything on is about 9/11, a lot of unseen footage from personal cell phones, interviews with the firefighters. Much of it I’m not sure I wanted to see or hear: the 911 calls from people in the buildings, radio communication between the firefighters, seeing people so desperate they were jumping. Horrific even after 14 years.

I think everyone in the states remembers where they were and what they were doing on that catastrophic Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001. At that time, I was working at The Cato Corporation corporate office, which is a women’s clothing retailer. I was wearing my dark pink suit with black t-strap heels. I was distributing checks and was actually at an assistant buyers desk when we heard it on the radio. Here’s the thing, since it was the second week of the month, our Buyers, along with my boss who was EVP of Merchandising, were on their way to New York to meet with vendors.

We weren’t quite sure what we heard. We scrambled to the breakroom to turn on the tv. Once confirmed, I ran back to my office and started pulling the buyers itineraries. Some had gone on Monday, but others where flying up that Tuesday morning. Trying to get through on cell phones was crazy. When I finally did get my boss, he was at Laguardia and had no idea what was going on. He was just irritated because he was going to be late for an appointment. It took me several times to get through to him what was going on. There would be no business going on in Manhattan.

At the time, I had been seeing an older man I had no business seeing. I wasn’t looking for anything serious, it was just exciting. He lived in Florida. He was Airforce and was flying himself up to Charlotte. So in the middle of the craziness in the office, I get a transferred call from him. He had been called back. He also decides at this time to tell me he loves me. The world was going crazy.

After the first tower fell, the rest of the day was a blur. We did reach all of our buyers and all were ok. The sheer disbelief of what had happened was overwhelming. The next three days, we just worked on getting everyone back to Charlotte. Obviously there were no flights and rental cars were snapped up quickly. We got some on the train. I think it took the rest of week to get everyone home.

I received a bouquet of yellow roses that afternoon. That’s something I just remembered. It was enough just trying to comprehend the events of the day. My friend and I went to a nearby church for a prayer service. So many people were there; praying, questioning, consoling one another. I could not imagine being those policemen and firemen at the World Trade Center. The utter helplessness they must have felt.

Looking at footage of the devastation is still shocking. It looks like the setting of an end-of-the-world movie, but it was real.

Every year on this date, I remember that pink suit, that transferred phone call, the scene of the 2nd plane hitting and the first tower coming down. I think these images are seared into my brain. And the sheer feeling of confusion was numbing. I think this country was numb for the first few days.

The name of the last program I’m watching tonight is “102 Minutes that Changed America.” That could not be more true. I don’t know how well I’ll sleep tonight.

Online Dating? Some reminders not to ….

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Hard to believe it’s already September. Feels like it was just last week I was sleeping off a hangover from New Year’s Eve. Turned out to be a very busy summer, which is a good thing. I started the New Year with really no plans other than, no dating… I’ve been thinking about that a little bit lately.

It’s been extremely nice not being stressed out about dating; wondering if some guy will call me back or not. Ick… But, I suppose I’ll need to get back out there at some point. Maybe… The online thing comes up now and then, but all I have to do is remind myself what was out there. I’ll recap some of last years dating candidates for those who missed out.

imageThis one came across my page. I refer to him as “The Thinker”. What exactly he’s thinking about sitting naked on the side of his tub is beyond me. And why he thought this photo would be great on his dating profile.. well… I probably do not want to know.

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This handsome guy decided to show his “quirky” side I suppose. Honestly, I don’t know what’s up with this. Between the hair, the ear thingy’s and.. is that a big pimple on the end of his nose? A friend of mine who works at the hospital said, “Oh, looks like he’s in a doctor’s office waiting room…” Yep, steering clear of that one…

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This one is showing all of his good habits… smoking, lack of personal grooming, and looks like he’s standing outside a tattoo parlor. Just not my style.. sorry.

Some had no picture, but instead tried to woo me with their romantic messages:image image

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Looks like I have a choice of Yoda speak and Joey speak, someone that’s angry about something? and a sappy poet…

I’m saving the best two for last though.

 

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This guy started a lot of talk on Facebook about what exactly is tattooed across his forehead. It looks like 5150… which a friend said was Police code for “mentally unstable”. At least he’s being honest upfront??? Certainly crazy enough to put a tattoo on his face. Here’s the kicker. Several months later, my nephews wife said she saw a picture of him on a friends page. Happens to be the brother of someone she went to high school with. YIKES

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And the crowd favorite.. Mr. Urban Cowboy who’s ” comfortable in my jeans, boots and cowboy hat. I ride a steel horse.” Well, all righty then. The peek-a-boo chest was just too much.

So there’s a brief synopsis of my online dating world last summer. Why do I have the photos? I had to comb through Facebook to find them. I was keeping my Facebook friends entertained with my unfortunate dating prospects. Don’t get me wrong, there are some nice looking guys out there, but things never worked out. Here’s the thing about on-line dating, I think some guys find it hard to commit to someone because there’s always more options sitting in their inbox. Ugh.. Anyway, my friends wanted me to continue just to see what may pop up. I’m not quite ready to face all of that again.

Roof Over My Head or Travel?

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There are only two things I’ve been able to think about since I’ve been back: where can I go next year and how can I buy a home next year AND still take a trip?

I just signed a year lease on my apartment, which I love. Really enjoy the area. I can walk to shops and restaurants however, traffic is getting worse every year and rent is just getting ridiculous. I read an article several weeks ago regarding apartment rent in Charlotte. It stated that Charlotte renters pay nearly 27% or more of their monthly income on housing. That’s hard to sustain, especially with the potential of it going up every lease renewal. And another article said Charlotte rent prices are among the fastest growing in the US. Yeah for me. And let me tell you, they are building apartment complexes left and right around here.

When I sold my house three years ago, I broke even – after 15 years of ownership – and that was doing well after the previous years. I was unhappy where I was and just decided to bite the bullet. My original intent was to buy a condo or townhouse. But, after several deals on my house went south, and ones I liked not appraising, I decided to just rent for a while. I soon discovered though, I would be paying almost twice as much in rent a month as I was paying in mortgage, especially if I stayed right in Charlotte. Reluctantly, once my house sold, I moved up the road about 15 miles to Huntersville . Rent is cheaper (not by much…) and as I said, love the area…… but I HATE the traffic. With no traffic, it would take me about 20 minutes Traffic-jamto get to work, with traffic, 40 minutes and that’s if there are no accidents HAHAHA…. I realize compared to some places this might not be much. The problem is traffic is multiplying quickly and our roads can’t handle it. I read in the Charlotte Business Journal that data suggests Charlotte’s 2010 population of nearly 1.87 million will grow to 2.74 million by 2030. And they think a toll road is the answer…. But that’s a subject for an entirely different post…..

So, if I want to continue traveling, something has to give. Luckily, my car is paid for but it’s a vicious cycle of paying rent while trying to save up for a 20% down payment on a home. Not easy. I jokingly asked my mom if I could move in with her. She looked at me like I had ten heads and said NO! That really wouldn’t work anyway. Love my mother dearly, but we would drive each other crazy. You know what they say about older people having no filter when they talk? Well, that holds true for her… Again… a subject for an entirely different post…

I have until after the first of the year to figure this out… Crazy apartment complex requires a 60 day notice… or was it 90.. Anyway, it’s plenty of time for deals to fall through! Then there’s the “where do I want to move” question? Do I want a townhouse or a one-level? Would I be ok with downsizing again? (I went from a 3 bedroom, 2 baths with garage house to a 2 bedroom, 2 baths apartment – no garage). Would the money saved be worth it or would I go nutz with two cats in a smaller place? Will I be able to do another Europe trip if I buy or will I have to scale it down…maybe a cruise? They’re pretty affordable…or nothing at all – that would be a real bummer. I’ve been poking around on realtor.com. Of course one I love is up for sale…but can’t do anything about it now… Just have to hope there’s something I love when the time comes and that interest rates are still low. Too bad I can’t lock in now. HA