Love Truisms and Contradictions

 

I get confused about what kind of dating advice to follow. It seems like everyone has a strong opinion about how to find love or as it may be, how love finds you.

I’m single and lately I’ve been wondering if love is guaranteed for everyone.  If so, does it come by way of devoted method (Match, Speed Dating, Singles outings)? By chance, regardless of method? Or is it like my mother says przeznaczenie – destined, marked.

Am I cynic or romantic if I say: chance?

In January when I told my hairdresser that making a rotisserie chicken was on my list of goals for the year, she paused and said, “I knew there was a reason you were single.”

“Because I haven’t roasted a chicken?” I laughed so hard I gave myself a temple headache.

“Yes! Girl, you gotta come over my house. I’ll show you how to do it. Shit. No wonder.”

“You think I’m single because I’ve never roasted a chicken?”

“Yes!! You gotta give a man something to bite into. He needs a drumstick. I’m telling you. You gotta Google that shit. It was on Oprah. It’s called Engagement Chicken or something like that. Seriously. Google, Oprah Engagement Chicken and you’ll find it. Man needs to bite into something.” She gnashed her teeth and mimicked eating a chicken leg.

If only it were that easy:  Rotisserie Chicken as enchanter.

Is this the secret?

I’m sure there are thousands who have been wooed through the stomach, but kitchen magic is not my strong suit. I can cook, just not in a love spell kind of way. Although let the record state, I have cooked with lavender.

People mean to be encouraging. But I find that when someone speaks with certainty on a method, (if one believes love is found through a method) it’s because it worked for them.  Therefore it is the way love happens. Not everyone takes this stance. So we’ll just call them “some people.”

Other people have learned from bad experiences and come crawling back from the field with warnings and tales to tell. They give me glimpses that sometimes love is not unlike a medieval world in simplicity and torture. We can also call these people “some people.”

Then there are: single people, serial daters, high school sweethearts, thrice remarried folks, long haulers, players, second chancers, life partners, one time yes’ers, serial monogamists, soul mates, companions, special arrangement people, sell-outs, the Montagues and the Capulets , the happily married, chance encounter miracle receivers, this-is-what-you-do-now-people, I fell out of love with you shruggers, weekend fling types, meant to be types, there’s a reason you’re single caution blinkers,  heartbreakers, the  heartbrokens, misery marriages, love at first sight prophets, slow cookers, radio holding John Cusacks, The Live to Tells, My parents (married 46 years), and those on the catch and release program. That’s more points of view than a fly has eyes.

sometimes you have to be Lloyd Dobler fearless

Maybe if I compounded all these opinions and insights I could have a 365 degree view on love. Maybe by considering all angles, I can come to know this elusive beast. [Insert Unicorn joke here.] But that’s the thing, to understand its many facets doesn’t mean I can find a way to get it. I can’t will it. That’s too much logic for something that appears at random, in my opinion. Love and marriage can turn out so many different ways. My mother once equated it to Roulette.  I didn’t ask her if she meant Russian.

 

Best to avoid the Don Draper types. That furrowed brow means trouble.

My favorite truisms that are contradictions.

 

1)  You’ll find someone when you’re not looking

2)  You need to put yourself out there

Which is it?

1)  There are Plenty of Fish in the Sea

2)  It’s hard to meet a good guy

 

1)  Guys can be shy, make the first move

2)  Guys like the chase, let him make the first move

 

1)  Do the things you love and you will find him

2)  Take a plumbing or mechanics class

Also known as:

1)  Be Yourself

2)  Try something different

3)  Live in England

 

1)      Show your interest

2)      Feign disinterest

 

1)   Be Open

2)   Protect Yourself

 

1)      Don’t settle

2)      Nobody’s perfect

 

1)      I knew he was the one. I just knew.

2)       It took me a while to know. It takes time to know someone.

 

1) You have to have a spark.

2) Sometimes the spark comes later.

Also known as: Don’t kid yourself, either way.

 

I have mulled these truisms over. My truism is this: It’s a mystery what brings two people together.  I think it comes down to luck.

Kurt and Goldie? Cute! Please tell me they're still together.

Maybe you’ve had this experience too? This advice. These contradictions. So many possibilities! No one certainty? There have been days, when I’m bummed that I’m single, longing for a soul mate who may or may not exist.  Self-love is hard won in the face of rejection and don’t I know it.  On the flip side, I have felt excited and grateful for the freedoms of being single– traveling the world, experiencing variety and having a chance to grow and live out my dreams where the only compromise or hindrance of reaching a goal is negotiating with myself. Self-love comes into play here too. Seems like that’s one kind of love you can make appear. The other one’s a mystery.

The Sound of the Doorbell

I used to live in a secure access apartment building in a nice downtown location during my first 4 years in Denver. The only stranger who ever came to my door was the occasional buzzed-in person knocking on the wrong look-a-alike door or a mom and her daughter (tenants from the building) who were selling cookies. I want to add that the Mom had some healthy force behind her knock. My friend Laura calls it the Cop knock. Anyway, The Cop knock made me spring off my sofa in a tangle of blankets annually.  The first time I looked through the peep hole, I expected to see some thug coming to collect his debts at the wrong door. Instead, I saw a sweet blonde girl in her green Girl Scout vest asking if I’d like to buy some cookies.  Sure kid, as soon as I unglue myself from the ceiling.

I never heard a doorbell at that apartment. When someone buzzed at the front door, my phone rang. I forgot they existed.

Now I live in on a street dotted with charming bungalows and I’m noticing something different. People ring door bells. The old apartment still had me deprogrammed, so I’m startled every time.

1.) Because I thought that door-to-door solicitation ended not long after my parents bought the Encyclopedia Britannica from a guy in a suit.

2.) I have an old timey doorbell that sounds like a mouse hits the chime with a hammer in a quick one-two stroke and then runs away.  It’s a sound I enjoy but don’t hear often. When I’m expecting friends, the door is just open.

This probably isn’t a big revelation for anyone who lives in a neighborhood where kids are selling things. But the last two people at my door were adults.  One was selling oranges out of his truck the other was a roofer in the neighborhood giving out his business flyer.

I answered the door suspiciously, especially with the orange guy. With no truck (that I could see), no business cards, two oranges in his hand and a paring knife in a makeshift cardboard sleeve, I knew whatever he was about to tell me, I was not going to reach for my purse. He tried to sell me a box of fruit for $45, then $35, and finally did an about face at $25 and crossed the street to the next house. I love fruit, but how many oranges can a single girl eat?

Besides, I couldn’t quite tell if he was a legit business man.  I really like the idea of buying direct from someone’s farm.  Love the idea. Only I didn’t see any proof that this was real. He was also rather abrupt with me.  All I kept thinking is that this guy is talking too fast, I have the screen door open and he has small knife in his hand. I didn’t feel threatened in the slightest but it occurred to me that the older I get the more suspicious I am of people’s intentions.

I am glad for my common sense, but I realized how things have changed since I was a kid.

I used to be one of those door-to-door kids in my old neighborhood in Lowell.  First I sold Donna Deanne chocolate bars (Plain, Almond or Crispy) $1 each. I toted them around in a cardboard carrying case to help raise money for my school. Sometimes I would just throw the money right into the box or slip the dollar bills into an envelope. Quarters would jingle.  I feel like an alien when I say, kids handled cash! People trusted them! Kids went door to door alone!

I remember my brothers and me eating a whole box. We had to tell my mom she owed the school $12, or was it $24? She wasn’t very happy with us. We just loved those Crispy ones.  I walked to every house in my neighborhood trying to sell my candy bars. I even went to weird apartment buildings, all in the name of trying to win a prize.  If I remember correctly:  Sell $50,000 worth and get a t-shirt. Sell $1,000,000 and win a Boom Box (cassette recorder included).  I exaggerate of course, but when you’re a kid, those goals seemed that huge. Over the eight years I sold things in school, I mapped out the best houses. Remembered which people didn’t answer their doors. Who had broken doorbells and who were repeat supporters.

God Bless Mr. Ouellette and Mr. Flynn, neighbors on either side of our house, who were my biggest customers no matter if I was selling chocolate, stamps, wrapping paper, magazines or overpriced cookie tins, they bought whatever I was selling.  I could count on them in part of my tally. I never sold enough to get the Boom Box but it didn’t stop me from dreaming of making a big sale.

So, it turns out the orange guy is legit. I asked my neighbor, and she has seen his truck. That made me feel good, although I thought his prices were steep and he could work on his customer service delivery. Still, he’s just trying to make a sale. I wonder if he’s mapping out the best houses. If he remembers one house from the next. If he’ll try again.

Funny what memories get called up with the sound of a doorbell.

Top 10 Valuable Translations from Mom

Mom drinking a glass of wine like she means it.

When I was born, I weighed in at 10lbs 11 oz. For those of you spatially challenged that’s two 5-pound bags of sugar with a small grapefruit head. (Thanks for the push out Mom!) I guess if I asked her when the challenge of motherhood began, she could probably say right from the beginning. I wanted to come up with a Top 10 list to honor my Mom and let her know that even though I poke fun at her, I really do heed her advice.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Top 10 Valuable Translations from Mom

 

1. Ironing Clothes/Dressing up

Translation: Care about how you present yourself to the world

2. Buying multiple loaves of bread for the freezer

Translation: Be prepared for company or World War III. Either way, it’s good.

3. Czyś ty zwariowałas? Have you gone crazy?

Translation:I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Your idea is definitely doomed.

4. Buying multiple shampoo bottles, soap and toilet paper

Translation: You never have to experience running out of anything if you think ahead.

5. Shopping at thrift stores, hand-me-downs

Translation: Spend your money on the right things and send your daughter to college without loans

6. Running into the basement and dancing like a crazy person when my brothers band practiced The Beatles, “Twist and Shout”

Translation: You’re never too old to dance (especially in your own basement.)

7. “No money, no funny.”

Translation: No money, no funny.

8. The urge to cover things in plastic.

Translation: Take care of your things.

9. Owning vacuum cleaners of every shape and size.

Translation: Life gets messy in hard to reach areas. Have ways to clean it up.

10. Fighting with me over what’s a good or bad decision.

Translation: I love you.

Four Things I Learned from a Woodpecker

Northern Flicker Woodpecker in my front yard (just on the edge of the shadow line)

Last month, at 6am every morning, I heard a woodpecker drumming into a telephone pole behind my house. Despite the early hour, I found it a pleasant way to wake up. It only lasted a few seconds so it didn’t get annoying. It was better than using my battery-powered beeping alarm. I felt like the bird was telling me, ‘Hey get up! I’m out here doing my work already.’

At first it was just pecking for bugs in the wood, but then I heard it making a rattling tin sound. Lying in bed, I would think, ‘oh little birdie. You’re hitting a metal plate, you little pea brain. Try a different spot.’

I talk to the birds. Sort of. Mostly I’m trying to listen. If a bird jets down in front of me and holds itself there in a too long way with its glossy black eyes staring straight at me, I think, what message are you bringing?

I wanted to identify the kind of woodpecker it was, so I did some research online. Turns out it’s a Northern Flicker Woodpecker. And it sometimes bangs on metal to communicate and mark its territory. So much for thinking the bird didn’t know what it was doing. Who’s the pea brain?

Nature Lesson #1 Sometimes you have to make some noise.

This is a great reminder as I learn how to market myself as a writer. Nobody is going to find me if I just quietly scribble in a notebook. Nobody will know to knock on my door. I have to bang on some metal.

Just a week or so ago, the woodpecker took up residence in a rotted out tree hole in front of my house. Every morning when I lift the shade, she’s there. Her sleek brown head pops out of the 3-inch hole revealing paint brush red markings on her neck. I sit at my kitchen table and watch her while I eat my breakfast. I wonder if she can see me. I’m kind of fascinated by her because I know I’m watching a process happen. It’s spring and I’m sure she’s sitting on some eggs. When I walk by the tree on the way to my car, she retracts her head back inside.

For a few mornings, I watched her spitting out beak-fulls of wood pulp. She was burrowing deeper into the tree to make her nest bigger. ‘Exhausting work, little birdie.’ I thought as I sipped my tea. Sometimes efforts feel like that: just a tiny beak-full of wood pulp against the gigantic tree of life.

Still, I could see she was making progress.

For one, she was an opportunist. When the trees got trimmed recently after a storm, some of the rotted branches left a cavernous hole. It would be a fixer-upper nest, but she moved in and got right to work.

Nature lesson #2 Don’t reinvent the wheel, when you have one.
Nature lesson #3 Don’t underestimate little efforts.

I have so many ways I can apply these two lessons in all areas of my life. In terms of writing, I have resources everywhere. It’s my job to scout them out. There are trail blazers who have gone before me who can share important information. I don’t have to drill my beak into solid wood, at least in some areas anyway. I know that birdie has carved out a perfect nest for herself and she did it one spit full of wood pulp at a time. Perseverance: A wise word my writing teacher imparted during class.

The other morning I saw a squirrel just above her nest on a tree branch. It seemed relatively disinterested in its spastic little run up and down the branch. But I worried, would the squirrel try to eat her or the eggs? Should I intervene and making noises if I saw it go too close? I could see the bird sensing and reacting to the squirrel’s presence. The bird popped out her head from the hole and twisted her neck all the way up to look up at the branch above her. She stayed that way for a while in a stare down with the squirrel. She looked like a lady perched in a window of a New York tenement looking up to a neighbor on a fire escape. It actually made me laugh.

Nature lesson #4  Protect your efforts.

I noticed the Northern Flicker Woodpecker doesn’t leave her nest for too long. I see her fly out for food or rendezvous with another Flicker briefly. I suppose there will be other times for her to cruise around the social circuit more when things are at a less precious and crucial time. But for now she goes back to that nest to sit with her eggs.

They’re incubating and she’s waiting for them to hatch.