Monthly Archives: November 2011

A happy ending?

I lived on my own for a very long time.  Self-sufficient, independent, didn’t need anyone.  And then – in one genius move – I brought in a roommate about 9 months ago.

And it’s been HARD.  I know I’m not the easiest person to live with (though, to be fair, I totally warned K. of this before she made a decision), and I think I underestimated how big an impact this would have on me.

Sure, I’ve had roommates before:  one from a past life that ended when she started dating the guy I was was dating… while I was still dating him.  Another who needed a place to stay while she divorced her husband.  And a third that just needed a transition place while she saved money to move to a better, non-drug, non-gunfire kind of area.

None of these ended all that well.  I know that some of it was me, some of it not me, but in the end — I’m the common denominator, I suppose.  And so, while I desperately wanted K. to move in, there was a part of me that was incredibly reluctant because of the fear of ruining the friendship entirely.

But – as if the universe needed to prove me wrong – things have been working out really well, at least in the day-to-day living together kinds of things.  I cook, she does dishes, we both walk the dog and each of us is adult enough to do the icky household stuff instead of pawning it off on the other person — fun stuff like taking the garbage out and unloading the dishwater.  As a faux married couple who never leave the house, we’re a perfect match.

We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, though, and I can say that it’s mostly been because I had expectations going into this that didn’t match reality.  I thought that her moving in would automatically make her my best friend instead of just my roommate and my pretend wife-with-no-benefits.  Here’s a little foreshadowing:  it didn’t.

Yes, we’re friends.  Close friends, even.  But only really within the confines of the house.  Out in the real world, we’re two very different people — she’s more the party girl, going out all night, dancing on tables in bars.  I’m more the early morning run type, go out for an early drink and movie, and maybe twice a year go on a bender where I come home when the sun’s coming up.  So, we don’t socially mesh very well.

I’ve struggled with this, though.  I really thought she’d be the one to kind of take me by the hand and show me the city gay life.  But – that’s not to be.  We had a long talk today (in the middle of my trainer session with her… have I mentioned that she gets to beat me up a few times a week?) and kind of sorted things out.  I don’t know that I’m entirely happy with the outcome, but I get where she’s coming from.  And as always, it’s better to have more information rather than guessing about it.

So, I’m on my own.  But – very recently – light at the end of the dating tunnel.  Which just might help this situation out.  More later!

Kinda crazy…

Insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  (Albert Einstein)

By that definition, I suppose I’ve been suffering from insanity — thinking that my normal, day-to-day life would suddenly start to make me happy despite nothing having changed.  I keep wanting my mundane suburb life to magically turn into something more than what it is … and while there’s always the possibility of a lightning strike, the odds are against me.

I need some sort of major change.  I’ve got to turn things around, take some chances and move out of my comfort zone.

I’m not quitting my job and moving away anytime soon.  My job isn’t my passion, but I enjoy the people I work with, have been there over 16 years and they make it possible for me to live very comfortably.  My job is my golden handcuffs, in some respects, and I’m not willing to break out of them yet.

So, I thought, what’s the next best thing?  Moving to the area to where the gays are, right?  Sure, I have a mortgage on one home that I’m renting out. And another mortgage on this new townhome that I’m in.  But, what’s to stop me from renting an apartment in the city for a short while?  (this is where those golden handcuffs come in handy…)

The idea initially seemed crazy — just throwing money away.  But the more I thought on it, the more it started to appeal to me.  I’m not one for night clubs and bars — and because I’m a suburbs girl, that’s all the city is to me.  What I really need is to exist on a day-to-day basis in a place where my normal routine makes it possible for me to meet other lesbians.  Grocery shopping, going to a coffee shop to read or work, heading to a local wine bar for a week-night drink … this is actually what my life is like.  And this is the kind of life that lived in the suburbs will likely yield nothing in the way of meeting people like me.  But if I do these same things in the middle of Boystown?  Now that holds potential.

Knowing that if I didn’t act immediately that I’d probably chicken out, I reached out to a good friend, S.,  who’s a real estate agent (and also gay) … she doesn’t work at all in the city, but I knew she’d be able to point me in the right direction. And then she totally amazed me (and – if I’m being honest – made me cry) with an immediate email response telling me in no uncertain terms that she thinks it’s a great idea and that she’s going to do everything she can to help me out.

I’ve been feeling like I’ve been drowning … asking for help, but not really getting it.  And with S’s email back to me, I was given a lifeline when it seemed like no one else noticed that I was struggling.  It’s funny, because her and I were close once, but kind of drifted apart and haven’t been close in a long time.  Reaching out to her was a longshot, but she came through on a level that was more than I ever expected.  It’s been awhile since I’ve felt like someone cared that much.

And S. wastes no time!  She’s been on the MLS looking at listings, emailing other agents, talking to her friends who do live in the city to find out the best place for me to be.  She’s pushing forward when on my own I might otherwise be too scared to even start researching the idea.  She’s exactly what I need right now.  And her unwavering support is more than I could ask for.

Just when I could barely see a way out, she’s come and rescued me.  And I don’t know that she even comprehends what a big deal this is to me (even though I’ve told her).

Life just got a little bit more exciting.  I don’t know that I’ll go through with this — it would be a very expensive experiment — but I’m looking forward to this new kind of crazy insanity.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

A verbatim conversation with my 91-year old Aunt at Thanksgiving:

Her (voiced filled with concern):  What happened to your hair?

me:  I got it cut.

Her (with a note of incredulity):  Did you cut it yourself?

me:  No, my hair stylist of 10 years cut it.

Her (sympathetically):  Well, maybe it’ll grow out and look okay by Christmas.

God bless her, she’s 91… I suppose that gives her the right to say whatever she wants.  The funny part is that I actually gave some thought to completely shaving my head… and now part of me wants to do it just to see what her reaction would be…

‘Tis the season

Oh, joy.  The holidays are here again!

(Note the sarcasm)

Ahem!

Anyway.  For me, this is the off-season.  I’m a runner and triathlete by nature and when it starts getting all cold and nasty around these parts, I start to hibernate.  And eat cookies and pizza and ice cream until I’m about the size of a bear.  A large, cranky, grizzly bear with a stray piece of pepperoni matted into the hair on my chin.  Nice visual, eh?

The time change really does a doozy on me… sometimes I feel like I’m a mole living underground who doesn’t ever see the light of day.  It might surprise you, but Chicago isn’t known for it’s sunny, bright winter weather.  There are too many days that go by with nary a peek at Mr. Sunshine, and I wilt like a flower who’s been shoved in a dark corner of the basement (which reminds me… water the flowers!).  Add to that the fact that I’m just coming off running a fall marathon and have little motivation to move any more than what it takes to change channels and get more snacks from the kitchen.  Not good, people, not good.

But this year I’m going to try something different — I’m really going to make the holidays my happy place.  And where does this start for me?  Sweating.  Yes, that’s right — sweat makes me happy.  Not in general, necessarily, but there’s nothing better than the cleansing feeling of cranking out a tough workout and then standing there, creating twin puddles as the sweat drops off your elbows. Who’s with me?

I decided I needed a challenge.  And then I decided that misery loves company, so I guilted a few friends into joining me.  It’s the 30 Runs in 30 Days challenge! Doesn’t that sound like FUN?! We started on Thanksgiving with our own little, informal 4-mile turkey trot (that’s at least 400 extra calories that I can consume at dinner…) and will go right through Christmas Eve.  The rules?  At least 15 minutes of running every day for the next 30 days.  I can “bank” a run if need be — run twice today, for example, to be able to skip a run tomorrow.  Easy enough, right?

The idea is that by forcing myself into at least 15 minutes of training a day, that’ll lead to more and more stress relief and better moods and less pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes on my hips.  A girl can dream, right?

Seriously, though, this is a lesson I have to relearn constantly:  I’m a much happier girl when I’m getting my sweat on regularly.  It’s a combination of working out the bad feelings and simutaneously having that holier-than-though, look-at-me-and-how-hard-I-work kind of feeling.  It’s an intoxicating mix, that much I’ll say.

So, I’m going for THAT kind of intoxication rather than the cake-flavored vodka kind (though the latter has its perks as well…) throughout this holiday season. Think it could work?

Is there an Idiot’s Guide to Being a Lesbian?

Yup, I’m a newbie gay.  It’s not like I just woke up one morning and decided to be a lesbian — on some level or another, I always thought chicks were hot.  But, on the other hand, it did take me a long time to come to terms with and accept the reality of being out in a pretty heterosexual world.  My upbringing didn’t leave a whole lot of room for this lifestyle and I fought against it, thinking that if I just found the “right” guy, things would work out and life would be all butterflies and rainbows.

As it turns out, my life did turn out to be all rainbows at least. Heh.

It’s been about 2 years now, and I’m still struggling with how to jump-start my immersion into gay culture.  I’ve got an incredibly straight life:  straight friends with families, live in the suburbs, and appreciate sleep more than late night trips to the bars.  You know how that goes.  I do have a lesbian roommate, but that’s about as far as that’s gone (and she’s just a friend … and with absolutely NO benefits…).  She keeps telling me that she’s going to “take me out on the town and show me around”, but that hasn’t really materialized yet.

So, how do I make this happen?

I’ve been doing the online thing on and off for a bit and have mostly found it frustrating. Either the initial conversations never move from the virtual into the real, or you meet the person and wonder what drug they were on when they concocted the piece of fiction that they’re passing off as their profile.  I do think that love can be found on the internet, but perhaps only for the very persistent or the very lucky (or the 22 year old blond with huge boobs and a penchant for casual sex).

After that, where to go?  I live out in the suburbs.  And not even the “good” burbs… the immediate area I live in sports approximately a dozen gays.  And I think I might be rounding up.  All the action is in the city — a place that I like in theory, but not nearly as much in reality.  First off, someone has to drive to get there.  Which translates pretty quickly into: someone has to either not drink or drink VERY responsibly.  And believe me, that person would NOT be me.  Let me share a little secret with you:  I’m not particularly good with the bar/dance club scene.  I need some alcohol to properly lubricate myself to fit in with that type of crowd, otherwise the resulting situation is a case study in social awkwardness that’s funny to everyone but me.

LBGT support groups?  Again – they exist mostly in the city.  That place again!

Any other suggestions?  My ability to spot lesbians in the wild is pretty awful.  Unless she’s totally butch, I’m probably not going to be right about it.  And frankly, I have a problem with people making assumptions about me — about my sexuality or otherwise — and so I hate to do that to other people.  But how else do you find out?  Start out conversations with: “Hi, my name is Laura and I’m gay.  Do you like girls and would you like to make out with me?”

I know that I need to find a network of like-minded lesbian friends.  A running group or biking group perhaps.  Something that doesn’t necessarily involve alcohol or dancing.  But – again – where?  Perhaps if there were an Idiot’s Guide, it would start out with:  “Move to San Francisco or Provincetown”.  Yea, that’s the ticket.

So, what am I missing?  Is there anyone out there that wants to take this lesbian under her wing?

That damn line

Where’s the line between friendship and love and back again?

I’ll just toss this out there:  I was mostly in love with my roommate, K.  I had been from before I even met her, if I were being completely honest with myself.  I saw her working with other clients in the gym, and I specifically went to the guy who had signed me up and got him to pull strings to get me on her schedule.

At that point in my life, I wasn’t out yet.  Hell, I had barely admitted to myself that I liked chicks more than dudes.  And though my gaydar was (and still is!) woefully undeveloped, I knew that she was probably gay.  Just call it a feeling, though I hesitated to label her that way until she told me for sure.

Within a few sessions of working with each other, we were getting along great — she opened up to me, and I started to do the same in return, though I’m generally reluctant to share much about myself with anyone, let alone someone I had just met.  There was something about her; she made feel immediately comfortable and safe with her.  It wasn’t but a month or so before she was dropping hints about being gay.  And within two months she came out to me.  I outted myself right back at her, and we went from there.  We were “family”, as she called it.

Now along with this crush, I also have a firm grip on reality:  she’s in no way interested in me like that.  I’ve never outrightly asked the question, but she’s made it clear in a number of unambiguous ways.  And that’s fine.  Sure, I’d love it if she were into me, but even if you throw out the 11 year age difference, we’re still really different in ways that lean towards a great ying-and-yang friendship that wouldn’t necessarily work in the romantic arena.

Part of my problem is that I’ve never been close friends with another lesbian.  I mean, with my straight friends, I can do all sorts of “taking care of” and such and it’s always taken in the context of friendship.  With another lesbian?  Not so sure.  It’s the whole “can men and women be just friends?” argument with a twist, right?

So, when you take my mostly-over-with crush (though I do have weird flares of jealousy, I’m ashamed to admit!), tack on K’s intention of just being friends and roommates and mash it up and deal with it in real life, I’m sometimes at a loss for how to act. Most of the time, everything’s good.  We get along great and (even more importantly) co-exist incredibly well as roommates.  At this point, even if something romantic were to be on the horizon, I’d hesitate to mess with what’s already a good situation.  But I still find myself feeling like our friendship is lopsided because of this idiotic unrequited love.

It makes no logical sense.  I know this.  It’s not like I necessarily WANT requited love, ya know?  But who doesn’t want the person they dig to dig them back the same way?  And in the meantime, I still have these moments of pure emotion where I just wish that she could see how well I could take care of her and make her happy.  Again – no logic to be found here!

I’m content to live and let live.  These fleeting moods are less frequent and pass with less drama than they used to.  But even still, I find myself sometimes wondering about that line between friendship and more than friendship … whether I cross it, where it actually is with two gay girls and how to deal with that whole gray area in between.

A girl’s best friend

As promised, the next installment:  my other best friend…

No, not diamonds!  (though if you’d like to send me some, I wouldn’t say no…)

Belle.  Yup – Belle is a girl’s best friend.

And with a face like this, could anyone disagree?

"throw the ball throw the ball throw the ball throw the bal throw the ball...."

Last post I talked about how sometimes fate steps in and gives you a nudge towards where you need to be.  Belle coming into my life was much like that.

I had been wanting another dog; I had put my old dog Joe to sleep a few years ago and I didn’t exactly like the empty house.  But, living so far away from work, I couldn’t bring a dog into that situation.  On a good day, I was gone almost 12 hours at a time.  So, when I moved closer, getting a dog was something that I thought could be a possibility.  Not only was I closer to work, but also my parents live only a few miles from me and would help out.

And still, I didn’t get one.  My roommate, K,  and I were still kind of settling in and figuring each other out.  And while K wasn’t opposed to getting a dog, she wasn’t completely on board with the idea either.  And then?  We dog sat Ginger the Wonder Dog.  And all of a sudden, K declared herself in love and wanted one of her own.

Literally the day after we gave Ginger back, I got an email from a good friend:  a colleague of hers had rescued a pitbull but couldn’t keep her.  He had found her muzzled and tied to a bench in the city — in March when it was cold and snowing! — and she had been there at least two days.  She had just had a litter — the pups were no where to be found, but she still had milk in her.  And despite this treatment, she was the absolute sweetest dog ever.

I met her a few days later and from the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew she would be my next dog.  And so, Belle came home with me and the three of us — me, K and Belle — immediately became a family of 3.  K loved Belle as much as I did.  Funny how things just fall into place sometimes.

And so that’s the story of how I got my second best friend.  Belle’s settled in and runs the house (though she allows me to think I’m in charge).  She’s “technically” my dog, though she’s really “our” dog (which I love).  Serendipity brought us all together, but it feels it was always meant to be.

Making a home

As promised, the next installment:  my current living situation.

About 11 months ago, I made a rather impulsive decision:  I wanted to move.  I was driving home from work — a 65 mile trek — and decided that I had enough.  That I spent too much of my life simply sitting in my car covering 600 miles a week.

A little back story… I made a move out to the far-off burbs about 6 years ago.  This was entirely motivated by the fact that all of my friends lived there; in fact, I bought a house in the same subdivision, living literally down the block from them.  And in the beginning?  It was awesome.  Lots of spur-of-the-moment sushi dinners and glasses of wine and hanging out on the porch watching the sun go down.  The commute to work was awful, but everything else made up for it.

And I had a great house.  Big and rambling, large yard for the dog … everything that I had wanted.  In the back of head I have to admit that I was thinking that I wouldn’t necessarily be living there all by myself.  I mean, I was in my 30’s — I had to meet someone to spend the rest of my life with soon, right?

Of course, that didn’t happen.  And, bit by bit, things changed.  My friend’s kids started demanding more attention and their lives simply didn’t leave a lot of room for non-family-related activities.  Soon, there were very few impromptu meetings — if I wanted to see them (other than seeing them drive by my house and waving), I had to make plans weeks in advance.

And that wasn’t enough anymore.  And so, I was driving home and  listening to NPR (yes, at some point I turned into my parents…), mind drifting to all the things I could be doing if I weren’t in the car and then BAM, it hit me:  I’m moving.  The next day I called my friend the real estate agent.  By the end of the week I was looking at new places.  And within two weeks had put in an offer and had it accepted for a new place.  Just like that.

So, flash forward:  I’m the owner of two lovely mortgages (luckily for me, I found renters for my house) and now call a nice little two-bedroom townhouse home.  And I love it.  While it had surprised me how much I enjoyed yardwork, I’d be lying if I said that I actually missed it.  And when I moved, I threw out almost half of my belongings, knowing they wouldn’t fit in the new space and it was an amazingly freeing experience.  All in all, I gained a boatload of time between the commute cut in half, no yardwork and just less “stuff” to take care of and clean.

But even with all the good the move brought, I was worried about moving away from my friends.  I knew I would see them even less — and that wasn’t even much anymore.  But – as it so often happens – when I moved outside my comfort zone and took a risk, fate/karma/whatever stepped in and provided me with exactly what I needed.

See, for the past 2 years I had been working out with a personal trainer at my gym.  And over the course of time, we became friends, chatting throughout my sessions.  She was also gay and loads of fun with an infectious personality and somewhere  along the line, my trainer sessions became what I most looked forward to during the week.  When I told her I was moving, she almost immediately told me:  “I’m moving in with you and we’ll be roommates.” Now, understand that I had never once seen her socially outside the gym at the point — I was completely floored.  I thought she was kidding, actually (though a part of me desperately wished she were serious).  And, as it turned out?  She actually WAS serious.

So, another leap of faith — really, for both of us.  She needed a place to live; she was recently out of a long-term relationship and living with a good friend, but the house was packed full of people and she didn’t even have her own bedroom.  And for my part, I had wanted to be friends with her for as long as I had known her (and plus, a roommate paying rent seemed like a good thing), so this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

It’s been over 8 months now.  And while there have definitely been some rocky times, I wouldn’t trade her for the world.  It was like I had to kind of let go of my old life just a little to make room for her and a new direction to my life.  She’s my first real best friend that’s also a lesbian … she’s been out since she was a teenager and even though she’s 10 years younger than me, she’s starting to become my gay mentor, if that makes any sense.  She’s showing me the life, the culture, the social stuff. She’s now – again – out of a relationship and that’s made it even better in some respects (for me, at least… does that make me an awful friend?  I like that she’s single again…) since she has more time.

So, she’s helping me explore what it’s like to be gay, getting me out into the big, bad world. She’s the epitome of a social creature (in fact, she can’t understand why I don’t mind staying home so much!) and is going to push me out of my comfort zone again.  Which is just what I need right now.

Next installment:  my second new best friend.

Hi Internet!

It’s been awhile since I’ve graced the internet with my literary presence (hi Internet!!  Did you miss me??), and I figured that I’d give you the thumbnail of my life in the next couple of installments (hmmm… I suppose if it takes a couple of “installments” I can’t necessarily refer to it as a “thumbnail”, now, can I…).  An introduction of sorts.

My name’s Laura, have just started inching into my 40’s and have lived in the Chicago ‘burbs just about all my life.  Mine’s a pretty mundane existence, but that suits me pretty well most of the time.  I’ve spent the better years of my life ignoring the fact that I found chicks totally hot, but finally admitted it — both to myself and to my family and friends — about 2 years ago.  Since then?  I’ve done the online dating thing, done the first date thing too many times to count, done the weekend spent together and over thing too.  What I haven’t done?  An actual relationship.

But, I’m getting there.  If you read back through my old posts, you’ll find someone who was still kind of searching for an identity.  Realizing I was gay, but still not feeling completely comfortable in my own skin.  A lot of my growing pains were spewed here on virtual paper for the internet to read, helping me to sort through some of the emotions.  I think better in writing, ya know?

And then, I took a break.  A long break.  It almost got to the point where I was thinking thinking thinking… and not much action.  But – back now.  And with a better sense of self, I’d say.  I’m such a homebody by nature, but I’m determined to be more social.  I still don’t believe that I’m going to meet Ms. Right in a bar or club, but on the other hand, it can’t hurt for me to get out and meet more lesbians.  I mean, fact is, being straight for 38 or so years left me with a very straight life.  With few exceptions, my friends are straight, married and have kids.  Doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for single, childless, gay me.

Okay – so that sounds like I’m starting my own pity party, but it’s not:  it’s simply the way things are.  What that means to me is that I need to broaden my friend base, start networking, find new gay chicks to hang out with … because in my mind, my best shot at meeting someone romantically?  Getting set up by a friend. Right?

At least that’s what I’m thinking right now.  I don’t live all that close to the gay scene in Chicago, but I’ve just started (like, this past weekend) getting out there, seeing what it’s all about.  And I’m excited to see what I find out there.  Don’t worry:  I’ll take y’all along for the ride.

Next installment?  My living situation.  I know – what a cliffhanger I’m leaving for you guys!

Back…

About a year ago, I closed down my blog, Space To Spew.  I had started it on the premise that my venting was at least somewhat anonymous (because you can be anonymous on the internet, right??), and at some point there was a non-verified, but probably true friend sighting (I saw one of my good friend’s company IP in my list of visitors).  My reaction?  Panic.  My second reaction?  Close the site down to rein in the damage.

That’s the thing with writing without too much of a filter — there’s a certain vulnerability involved.  I sleuthed out that a friend had found the site (and if I’m right, it was because of a stupid mistake on my part) and I immediately thought about all the things that I wouldn’t want her to read.  From stupid things (like me having been tipped off to my 40th surprise birthday party, which she had thrown for me) to things more intimate (like how I was seeing a therapist and had been struggling with simple day-to-day life).  I knew that reading those things would make her question our friendship, wonder why it was that I didn’t think I could trust revealing these things to her.

And the fact is that it wasn’t a matter of trust.  I knew she’d understand.  I knew she’d react in a positive, supportive way.  Mostly, it was all about me and my overwhelming desire to make everyone think that I was doing just fine. I didn’t want people to know that I was perpetually down or feeling so emotionally on the edge that I wondered sometimes how I made it through the day.  I didn’t want to be seen as vulnerable.

So, I shut it down.  Pulled the plug.  And with it, stopped writing in any kind of meaningful way; I was too scared to put myself out there again.

Now it’s over a year later, and I’m at a place again where I want to put myself out there, though the impetus is a little different. Before, this was a place to vent, to worry, to bemoan my life. Now, I’m in a little bit better place, though the details of my life haven’t changed substantially since then.  Still, this feels like I’m starting off fresh:  while I brought the old posts with me, I created a new blog to park them at, and the new blog title — Getting Out In The World — denotes the attitude change that’s happened along the way.

I still have a lot of the same insecurities going on, and it’s true that I still don’t have a girlfriend (or have had any type of meaningful romantic relationship), but I’m feeling optimistic.  I’m such a homebody — and plus, staying up late has never been my forte — but I’ve got a renewed commitment to going out more, being more social, trying to enjoy the hell out of life.  It’s the only one I’ve got, ya know.

That’s the plan.  What do you think?