Category Archives: Dating

Clichés and the City

Last night I rode the train home after seeing my old college friend perform in a sketch comedy show at the Magnet Theater.  When I rounded the corner on 28th Street, I heard the train approaching.  I scurried down the stairs, through the turnstile and heeded the familiar musical warning that the doors would soon be closing.

There, I saw him: a beautiful specimen of a man, holding the subway doors open for me.

We rode the train in silence. I avoided eye contact but inched as close to him on the crowded train as possible, hoping for the screeching brakes or sudden jerk of movement to propel me into his arms.

Eventually, he sat down, and I sat next to him, only to have him give up his seat for an elderly woman.

The fire in my heart grew.

At 110th Street, he disappeared. I was left disappointed, but relished in the blissful memory of twelve subway stops of unrequited love at first sight.

I shared this story via social media, half-laughing at it all.  Yes, the man was gorgeous, and yes, my heart skipped a beat when his pant leg brushed against my black leggings. Yet, for all I know, he’s got a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. Or both. Maybe he’s a narcissist, or serial killer. He might have sleep apnea or an abhorrence to brushing his teeth. There are a million ways why this fantasy love story will never work, and I know it.  Still, it’s fun to imagine. I’m somewhat of a hopeless romantic.

The commentary that immediately followed on Facebook, Twitter, in person and over text was astoundingly full of clichés. It was almost as if I had shared my story, desperate for an answer. Quite the contrary!

I know everyone is trying to be helpful, but if one more person delivers a cliché in response to my tales of singlehood, I’m either going to scream, or vomit.  Perhaps both.

The following are a list of phrases I will pay to never hear again.

1.  The right one will come along, or God will bring the right one to you.

First of all, I’m not one to just sit around, waiting for things to happen.  Secondly, how can I argue with a cliché, starring God? He is in charge of everything, but He’s never promised me a second husband.  At this point, I’m just trying to get a decent date.  Furthermore, I do not believe in “The Right One” or “The One”. I believe you pick someone, and make it work. In all my years of therapy, I have learned chemistry and compatibility are the two most important factors that make up a relationship.

Chemistry: You’ve got to want to make out with the person all the time, because eventually, they will annoy the crap out of you.

Compatibility: You’ve got to get along with them initially, and have similar goals, because eventually, they will annoy the crap out of you.

But, you make it work, because love is always worth the risk. 

2.  When you stop looking, you’ll find him. 

Thank you for insinuating I am so desperate for a man in my life, I am constantly looking for one. There are days I rejoice in my freedom, and there are others when I am trying so hard not to look, all I see is dog poo on the sidewalk.

The truth is, anyone who is single and desires to be in relationship WILL NEVER STOP looking, hoping, wondering and dreaming, no matter how much we try to deny it.

3.  Do what you love, and the rest will follow.

This statement is actually less an annoying cliché and more frustrating truth. I moved to New York to pursue my career goals, not to find a man. At the same time, refer to cliché #1. If a man happens to cross my path (perhaps on the subway), I will not reject him. But if he’s not interested, I’m not going to stalk him. (Okay, maybe a little…)

At this point, I am doing what I love, and what I hope to immediately follow is a hard-earned paycheck.

4. Timing is everything. Be patient. Maybe he’s not ready yet.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to wait around for someone to figure out what to do with me. I want to be in a relationship with a man, not a boy who doesn’t know what – or who — he wants.

5.  He’s out there, somewhere.

Whenever someone says this to me, I immediately think of the love of my life, floating silently through the galaxy in one of those heavy-yet-gravity-free, badass space suits. I giggle at the mental picture, and then start to feel sorry for him, being all alone “out there, somewhere” (most likely, lost in the time-space continuum).

Maybe he’s in Indiana.

You know what else is “out there, somewhere”? Giant water buffalo. Babies being groomed to become sumo wrestlers. Dogs who wear sweaters. A cure for cancer. The next teary-eyed winner of a reality television talent competition. The eighth wonder of the world. My Tony, Oscar, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize Awards. Buttermilk.

6.  I don’t understand how someone as smart, talented, articulate and beautiful as you can still be single.

The right one hasn’t come along yet. God hasn’t brought him to me. Maybe I’m looking too hard. Perhaps I’m too focused on doing what I love to do. Maybe it’s just not the right time.

Or maybe you should just ask me out.

Five-Minute Conversations With My 12-Year Old Piano Student

In addition to being a professional singer, actor, musician, designer and writer, I am a teacher.

I have taught special education, reading and theatre in the Los Angeles County public school system, and, in 2003, found myself administering private piano and voice lessons.  The majority of my students hail from a small, quiet community nestled at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. I spent the first eight years of my life there.

One of my piano students is twelve years old.  I have taught her since she was in first grade. Both her brothers — now in college — were under my direction in their respective 6th grade musical theatre endeavors: Treasure Island and The Music Man.  The entire family is smart, funny, talented, witty, kind and generous.  They are good and very real people — the kind you want to be around all the time.

12-year old piano student and I were quite compatible from the beginning of our student-teacher relationship.  Early on, I noticed she was quick-witted, honest and blunt.

When she was six, she learned a simple (albeit stupid) song called “The Hot Dog Stand”.

I stood close to her and explained the eighth notes in the piece.

“May I ask you a question?” she politely inquired, as she innocently focused her intense blue eyes upon mine.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Could you please not talk so loud? I’m right here and you’re talking very loudly.”

I have written down snippets of our conversation since that day.

*****
When she was seven, she told me she was going to the Dodger game, right after our lesson.

“Hey, me, too!” I exclaimed.

“Last time I went to a Dodger game, I got hit on the head with a baseball. The guy who hit the ball got traded to the Cardinals!”

*****

Recently, I asked 12-year old piano student for some dating advice.

“Don’t flirt with someone who’s out of your league,” she declared, matter-of-factly.

“Okay,” I agreed. “But what makes a guy out of my league?”

She thought for a moment.

“Someone who doesn’t like you back,” she answered. “He’s only out of your league because he doesn’t want to be in it.”

With that kind of perspective from the heart and brain of a 12-year old, I knew I needed to hear more.  Before we settled into our lesson yesterday, I interviewed her for five minutes (and twenty-seven seconds).

So, what advice can you give me on how to find a date?  I quit online dating a while ago.  It’s tough to meet decent people.

Online dating is a place [where] you’ll never meet your match.  The commercials lie!  All the people are arrogant hussies trying to be awesome, but they’re not awesome.  They do not possess the quality.

(Laughing)  Could I then be construed as an “arrogant hussy”?

You are not an arrogant hussy because you don’t dress like one. The hussies have…makeup all over their face, and they wear all the weird clothes, and, well, they remind me of the 8th graders at my school.

(Laughter.)  So, would you say that men in their 30’s and 40’s –

(She cut me off.)

Men who are in their 30’s and 40’s and aren’t married are not really the good type.

How so?

For one thing, they can’t hold down a girlfriend.

Why can’t they hold down a girlfriend?

Perhaps they’re drunk.  Perhaps they’re abusive or stupid or just disgusting, or, you know, stuff like that.  One thing – I don’t say this actually happens – but one thing that always seems to happen in books: the good guy is married, and then he gets divorced to be with someone else, and ends up having an unhappy relationship.  It doesn’t work.

What would you say to me?  I’m divorced.  But I didn’t get divorced to be with someone else. 

If I were you, I just wouldn’t worry about it.  You can’t control fate.

This is true.

Fate does as she pleases.  What fate normally does is…not very fun stuff.  I think you just got to show you can make it on your own. If you meet a nice guy — great! I’m happy for you! — but you don’t need one.

I know.

You’re doing GREAT without one.

Thank you!

So, I wouldn’t worry too much. The only people who are not doing well without guys are those who wallow on their couches all day, doing nothing but crying and eating ice cream.

That’s true.

So by the time they actually feel like, “I’m going to brace up and do something about it,” they’re 55,000 pounds!  They ate too much ice cream and sat on the couch!  And then they don’t do anything about it, and they’re back on the couch…

(Pause.)

Don’t wallow in self-pity.

Okay.

It never works.

It never works?

NEVER works.  I have already experienced self-pity and I hate it.  Don’t even let it…just ignore that emotion.  Stay positive.

What do I say to my girlfriends who are dating guys but the guys aren’t really –

— Into it?

Exactly.  They aren’t committal.

Guys who aren’t really committal…I have a feeling guys around this time [at your age] have probably had a relationship, and something terrible happened.  Their wife, or whoever they were dating, probably cheated on them and they felt like she was THE ONE, so they don’t want to get hurt again.

Yeah.

They don’t want to feel that pain. I have a feeling they’re not getting committal – not because they don’t like her, or think she’s not perfect — they just think, “I don’t want that pain again.  I thought this about someone else and I just experienced pain out of it; I don’t want that to happen to me [again].”

Guys just aren’t willing to take that many risks on stuff like this.

Do you think women are willing to take more risks than men?

Well, when you’re young; when you’re a girl growing up, you hear all these fairy tales about true love and all that, and you think, “Oh, I can’t wait for all of that for me!”   — But guys don’t get that.  They hear different stuff.  So when girls are ready for their true love, but guys have experienced pain, they don’t want it.

Hmmm.

Listen: no matter how good you are, they are not going to move that fast.  They’re not just going to come rescue you from the tower.

That’s true.

So to those girls who are growing their hair long to be like Rapunzel — just cut your hair!!

(Laughs) Okay.

I had to add that!

So, is there hope for a 35-year old single woman like me, to find a good man?

Oh, yeah!  They’re still out there.  There’s always a good man.

Where are they?

(Pauses):  I don’t know.  I’m not a geography person.  I failed that. (Laughs.)  But they’re out there!

(Laughing)

So, picture this: You are out walking one day.  It’s afternoon, and the sun is setting, blah, blah, blah, and you pass this guy.  And it’s great. You talk to him; you go jogging together.  And then you learn he is in this relationship with a girl you once knew in high school.  And she’s terrible. I mean, really terrible. He is having a little trouble with her, but he refuses to let her go because of her amazing looks.

But you — you open his heart to real things!  And that is a 30’s-to-40’s romance.

(Wheezing with laughter): How did you get to be so wise?

(Smiles and shrugs): I’m an old soul.

A Few Good Men

Last night I stopped at my favorite Pho restaurant to pick up a late dinner.

Andrea first introduced the hidden gem to me a few years ago, and I have been a frequent customer ever since. When I walked through the door, the owner was happy to see me.  He flashed a big, crooked-tooth smile, patted my arm and took me aside.

“When you going to get a man?” His face showed genuine, deep concern.

I threw my head back and laughed, heartily.

“I really don’t know!”

His eyes narrowed.  “Why you have problem?”  He then waved his hand towards my figure.  “You look good enough.”

I smiled and shrugged.

“No dates,” I offered, truthfully.

“Aha!” He wagged his finger in my face. “You too picky!”

*****

As I curled up on the couch with my hot pho and the next episode of “The Walking Dead” (I’m addicted!), I chuckled to myself.

It felt good to know my singlehood / lack of an active dating life was disconcerting to someone other than me.  At the same time, I wanted to protest and assure the Vietnamese restaurant owner I don’t need a man in order to be happy, fulfilled or whole. In fact, I ceremoniously quit online dating for my birthday, and life has been much more peaceful. I got tired of sorting through tacky, suggestive or grossly misspelled messages from men I didn’t find intellectually stimulating, or even the slightest bit physically attractive.

Over the past two years, I’ve been a member of eHarmony, Match.com and Ok Cupid! (My sisters and I prefer to call it “Stupid Cupid”.) I’ve met a handful of nice guys, but ultimately, I’m done with it all.  It just wasn’t working for me. Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer meeting people in person.

I added extra Sriracha sauce to the salty broth and pondered the restaurant owner’s words.

What if I am too picky?  What if I do need a man in my life? I certainly wouldn’t complain if a good one came along, but the whole process of not trying to find one is exhausting.

The truth is, I’m probably trying too hard.  Admittedly, I think about it too much.  For crying out loud, I’m spending my Friday evening writing out my frustrations instead of making out with a hot date.  (Isn’t that what we all would rather be doing?)

And, yes, I’m picky, because I want to date good men; guys that I think are amazing.  Recently, however, the good men I find amazing don’t look at me twice.  It just is what it is.

So I keep convincing myself that I’m OK with all of this. Then, I go into “fix it” mode: I really should keep my mouth shut because I’m not going to attract the “right” person, or, worse: I’ll drive a good man away because I look and act like I don’t have it all together.  It’s bad enough having Divorce and Reckless Driving on my record.  Nobody wants a drama queen.

I know the negative thoughts are untrue, but sometimes I need an explanation as to why the good, available men are so scarce.

It’s disappointing.

My ex-boyfriend was absolutely amazing when he boldly pursued me.  I had no idea things could be that good, or easy, with a man.  He set the bar high in the relationship department until his fear of love, confusion and emotional withdrawal lead to the ultimate ending of our very brief relationship. Twice.

Besides a sprinkling of a few dates with my busy ex-boyfriend, I have been on one other date this year.  I met the guy on Stupid Cupid, and he immediately asked me out.  We enjoyed good conversation over beer a few Fridays ago. I liked him from the minute I met him. We laughed, flirted, exchanged semi-vulnerable stories and he seemed to genuinely have a good time.  Afterwards, he drove me home, kissed me on the cheek and said he’d call me.

He never did.

And that’s it. That is the extent of my dating experience this year.

I paused the television just as zombies violently began tearing into the flesh of an unfortunate, terrified new character.  I crossed my arms, sat in silence, and continued to process my situation. I was reminded of something my therapist recently told me.

“You’ll have to go through a few good men, Leslie, until you find one with whom you are most compatible,” she said, gently.

I have about six weeks left in Los Angeles, and then I will tour the United States with the Brian Setzer Orchestra until the end of 2012. I have never looked forward to anything more.  In a way, my leaving will serve as an escape from the blank canvas that is my love life. I will not have time to sit and wonder why no one has the balls to ask me on a date.  I will be too busy to think, or care, about any of it.

Yet, suddenly, I am encouraged.  There isn’t just one good man out there.  There can be a few.  Or even more.  I had a pretty serious relationship with one already. We didn’t work out, but I’m so glad I dated him. It was worth it.  He was a good man. And, I went on a first date with another good man.

I’m not giving up, just yet.  Surely there are a few good men in my future.

Perhaps good men are like flesh-eating zombies.  They’re everywhere, coming for you (although some drag their feet), and you’ll never know what hit you until they find you.

Tagged ,

Less Like Scars

It’s been a year.

Today is important for me.  It’s a milestone. It’s a big deal.  I am proud of myself.  I have quite often wondered where I would be a year after my divorce was final.  I wonder where I will be after two.  Five.  Ten.  Twenty.

My divorce (and subsequent criminal record) does not define who I am.  It is a part of my life – a part of my past.  My choice to open up and share my story in such a public manner might be a totally stupid one, but I have seen how God has used it/me to help others.  It’s so exciting! Somehow, my bold vulnerability has spoken; resonated.  I’m beyond grateful for that.

Today, my fingers are poised above the keyboard, wondering whether or not I should bring the present into the picture.  I told myself that I wouldn’t write about future relationships.  Any man endeavouring to date me might be completely turned off by the fact that I have this blog in the first place.  It’s intimidating.  It’s dangerous territory.

Chalk me up there with Adele and Taylor Swift in the “don’t fuck me over or I’ll write about you” department.  Ha.

But it’s me.  It’s my life.  It’s my heart.  I can’t hide it – I don’t want to.  I want to grow, I want to learn, I want to continue to change, and become the person that God dreams me to be.

He dreams much bigger things for me than I do for myself.

So, here I am: one year after my divorce was made final, two years after I left my husband, and three years after the shit went down in the first place.

And I think not of my ex-husband at all.

My heart has been distracted by a very recent, painful break-up.  It was a short relationship – just three months.  And, for the most part, it was wonderful.  I was so happy I didn’t even know what to do with myself.  I was also scared out of my mind, but, with the encouragement and support of my therapist and my friends, I settled into it.  I didn’t run away.  He pursued, and I responded, eagerly.

I finally learned what it felt like to be treated right.

He liked me for me.  He didn’t care that I was divorced.  He laughed at my sense of humor.  He appreciated my talent.  We shared similar interests and beliefs. We clicked.  We had chemistry and compatibility.  He opened the car door for me.  He bought me flowers.  He introduced me to his friends and some of his family members.  We spent as much time together as we could, in those first two months.  He took me on a couple of trips to some fantastic places.  He respected me.

I felt safe.

Finally.

It was easy to fall in love with him.  I never told him, though. I didn’t think it was appropriate.  I wanted to do this new relationship the right way.  I wanted to settle in for the long haul, and take things slow.

But then, things started to crumble a bit.  I made some stupid comments in front of important people in his life.  I felt terrible.  He forgave me, but I started to worry that my bad behavior would become a weekly issue.  I saw less and less of him.  He wasn’t able to communicate with me as often.  He was busy with his job, business trips, and other responsibilities and interests.  I felt him pulling away.

I didn’t feel like a priority anymore.  It hurt so badly I couldn’t breathe.

So I broke up with him.

He was hurt, confused and angry.  I tried to make things “right” by over explaining myself, my reasons and my emotions, but ended up making things even worse.

I de-friended him on Facebook, and then re-friended him. (Yes, I am twelve.)  He never accepted.

He told me that I gave up too easily.  I told him he didn’t fight for the things that he really wanted.

We haven’t spoken since, and I’ll never see or hear from him again.

It hurts.  Breaking up is hard to do.

But I have learned.

On this day – this one-year divorce-versary, I realized something.  A few things, actually.

The “issues” that I had in my first (albeit very brief) post-divorce relationship were not things that couldn’t have been worked out under “normal” circumstances.  Yet, I am not normal.  I am a divorcee.  Little things that might have not been a big deal to another person were stupendously huge hot buttons for me.

These things may take time, and extra patience.  Sometimes I feel like I, myself, have neither.  I don’t know what man in his right mind on this earth would want to take me on.  I don’t say that to be cute, or garner sympathy.  I have been hurt, yes.  I am afraid of being more hurt, sure.

But I am willing to get hurt.  It’s worth it.  I’d rather die with my heart broken twenty times over than live with it seized, overprotected or ice cold.

Love is always worth it.

Nothing will hurt as deeply as my divorce.  Yet, it is behind me, and it will become more and more of a distant memory.  My scars are, indeed, fading into beautiful character.

It’s been a hard year
But I’m climbing out of the rubble
These lessons are hard
Healing changes are subtle
But every day it’s 

Less like tearing, more like building 
Less like captive, more like willing 
Less like breakdown, more like surrender 
Less like haunting, more like remember 

And I feel You here 
And You’re picking up the pieces 
Forever faithful 
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation 
But You are able 
And in Your hands the pain and hurt 
Look less like scars and more like 
Character

I’m still cleaning up my freshly broken, hurting heart.  It, too, will take time to heal.  Whether or not this man was the right one for me, or I for him, I’m so grateful to have opened up, to have trusted, to have laughed and learned; to have loved again.

God is in Control

When I impulsively started writing this blog on Tuesday, I shared some of my personal journal entries with a few close friends.  My dear friend Renee asked me if I had been crying as I published the beginnings of my journey.  She emphasized that it was okay.

“You’re letting it out, you’re letting it go.  You’re being healed, “ she lovingly wrote.

I was ecstatic to answer, “I’m not crying, but excited!  I had to start somewhere!”

I have cried more than I ever thought was possible over the past two years.

Fuck crying.  I’m sick of it.

And then, today, I cried.  Sobbed.  I haven’t cried in months.

I was driving back from Santa Monica, where I had just attended my “Wife’s” amazing lecture on Ornament and Crime (she is the most brilliant architect, friend and person I know).  I was overcome with amazement at the people God has placed in my life.   I marveled at the loyalty and longevity of my childhood best friend, Joy; I thought of the overwhelming love and support I daily receive from my close circle of friends and family – people who have walked my journey with me, and continue to do so.  I really have no reason to ever be lonely or sad, because I have these incredible people, and I have Jesus.

But I don’t have a man in my life.  The last relationship I experienced was my marriage.  I feel like a freak.

I am a woman in her 30’s (HELLO, SEX DRIVE!).  I want to feel butterflies.  I want to be kissed. I want romance.  I want to have sex all the time; every day.  I want to get excited about seeing someone.  I want to fall in love, get married, and have babies.  I also just threw up in my mouth a little, typing all that.  But these are desires of my heart. I have waited, ever so patiently, and nothing has happened.

It is so hard to get a date, and is so hard to keep a guy interested.  I’m not good at playing the “game”.  If I like a guy, I tell him.  I guess I’m not supposed to do that.  And, if I really like him, he usually doesn’t like me back.  It is just downright hard to be single.  It hurts.  It sucks.  It happens.

I am laughing at myself.  My lament is a typical episode of Sex and the City.  Or maybe I’m back in junior high?

Nevertheless, as I compose this impulsive free-write, I realize that I will probably never have all the answers.  I’m not perfect.  I make mistakes.  I’m single.  I’m divorced.   I’m human.  God loves me.  I’m still figuring it all out.  I’ve come a long way, but sometimes I think I must still have a long way to go.   Yet I still have human desires and needs and wishes.  I am not incapable of relationship, just because I have experienced a traumatic breakup.

For crying out loud, I’ve spent thousands of dollars for two years’ worth of weekly therapy.  I’m practically at the point where I’m shrinking my therapist.   I think she wonders what the hell I’m doing, continuing to visit her every week.  She must get a kick out of hanging out with me.  I’m fun. And I pay her. Ha!

I have so much to give.  I am willing to give my whole heart, all over again.  I’m ready.  I’m sick of waiting.  I’m impatient.  But I’ll continue to live my life.

And, as always,  someone inevitably clucks, “It’s a process,” or “It’s a long road,” or “Maybe you’re just not ready yet.”

I want to chirp right back, “What the fuck do you know?”

I hope my story has a happy ending in the relationship department, I really do.  I have actually been happy thus far being single, but there are times when I want to scream and hit things and blow up happy couples and cynically remark that I don’t believe in love or marriage anymore.  Love Stinks.  Love is a Battlefield.  You Oughta Know.

Back to the point:
I was feeling sorry for my single, unsexed self as I curved along the 110 freeway back home to my studio apartment.  I shifted gears, and my 2007 Toyota Corolla’s 6-disc standard stereo system shifted CD’s.  Steven Curtis Chapman’s familiar voice rang out.  I chuckled at how uncool I was for indulging SCC.  But the truth pierced through, in his soaring voice and lyrics:

This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be,
But this is how it is –
And our God is in control.

This is not how it will be,
When we finally will see –
We’ll see with our own eyes,
He was always in control.

This is not where we planned to be,
When we started this journey —
But this is where we are,
And our God is in control.

I have been ready in so many ways to share my journey, my pain, my healing, joy and even my struggles.  It is exciting, because it truly is my hope that it is helpful to someone – even just one person.  I am being transformed and it’s beautiful, even when I throw lame tantrums.

As my tears dry on yet another Saturday laundry night, I am comforted and blessed knowing that, indeed, God is in control.