On a recent job application, only one question slowed me down. "What are you most passionate about?" It didn't give me pause because I couldn't think of anything, only because the space allowed was so small. I think the question might have been easily answered in that small spot by "What are you NOT passionate about."
I know almost everyone is passionate about something. Whether it's their grandchildren, the state of the environment, politics, religion, a particular craft (I learned long ago never get between a quilter and a fabric sale!), a sport, or a possession (I dated a guy briefly who could carry on a one-sided conversation for hours...and did...on the merits of his car versus any other on the market).
But me? I'm passionate about almost everything. I'm all in to whatever I do...or I'm all out. No in-between. One of the many character traits that has driven more than one person in my life bat-crap crazy while trying to keep up. I believe if you can't go big, you should go home. Or at least go sit with the little dogs on the porch.
Some of my passions a bit more, well, passionate than others. Animal welfare is close to the top of that list. I have zero patience with anyone who breeds animals strictly for money (and after 25 years in the world of dog breeding and exhibition, I have to add "or ego" to that sentence. If you breed over one or two litters a year you are part of the problem) whether or not you have a waiting list and can justify every dollar you charge for your puppies). I think every single person who decides to have a litter of puppies or kittens for any reason should have to volunteer at an animal shelter, holding healthy happy animals as they spend their last terrified moment on earth before being given their final sleep. They should have to nurse back to health animals that trusted one human too many and almost paid with their life. Even years ago when I was involved in breeding and showing, I thought it was totally justified of cities and states to put a breeding tax on dogs and cats to slow down indiscriminate breeding practices. I still do.
Our environment is another major passion. I won't argue it standing in a picket line, or in a group of angry protesters holding signs and shouting, nor will I discuss it or argue it on social media or in conversation, but here I will state firmly that until we start worrying about our world as a whole, fervent pleas to "Make America Great Again" are nothing more than a clever slogan and marketing campaign. "Make our World Happy and Healthy Again" would be a much better goal. For instance, in my personal opinion, if someone really cared about the plight of coal miners, they would be honest with them and everyone else that coal usage has been in a decline for over a decade as the desire for a cleaner and more efficient product becomes more important for the majority of Americans. Add to that the fact that jobs that miners have traditionally held are being replaced more and more frequently by machines and you see that the decline of numbers of jobs in the coal minining industry hasn't been damaged by "tree huggers" nearly so much as just by the passage of time. Even if someone created a new use for coal and made it profitable again, there still would not be enough jobs to keep miners employed. Instead, desperate miners are used as a chip in a high stakes poker game between politicians who have no problem at all using lives as gambling pawns. So in an attempt to make themselves look compassionate and dedicated to lessening unemployment numbers, environmental laws are revoked that were kept in place to keep the dark side of coal mining from coloring our planet. And the few miners that are rehired join the many tools in the belt of a narcisstic government that uses the little guy as a stepping stone to their own rewards. That's just one small point that I have problems with in discussing our environment. There are many. Passion does that to you...makes you care enough to do actual research and search out unpleasant truths.
I'm also passionate about a dozen other things that affect my daily life. My pets, my garden, my home, my music and my writing. I am passionate about losing weight, even though I have health issues that are making it almost impossible. I'm passionate about swimming and exercising in the water. Just being near water restores my soul and my soothes my mind, so time spent in the pool doing water yoga, dance or aerobics is nirvana for me. I get passionate about creative projects too. My front porch at the moment looks like I'm having a yard sale, piled up with pieces of furniture and bits of junk that will be turned into something beautiful. Soon I hope.
I'm also passionate about finding the person that will share the rest of my life with me. That brings up the passion that I don't put into print. I'll leave it at "he will be a very lucky man".
I think I would have made a very good actress. I'm very good at stepping outside of myself and becoming whatever is needed of me at any given moment. I certainly would have no trouble at all handling the stage demand, "Once more, from the top, with passion!"
Not sure why suddenly it seems that every post topic is on dating. It's not the sole focus of my life, but I guess the things that puzzle me the most have to do with the people I've met in the last few months and how they've impacted my life.
I have always had dogs. Always. I came home from the hospital to a house with a Miniature Pinscher that ruled the place. He was old and cranky and I suffered more than a few dog nips (that breed is aptly named, by the way, minus that "s") before I learned to respect him. I will forever be grateful to my parents that they made ME realize that, rather than just "getting rid" of Tippy. They realized that he was there first and it was his home. I was the interloper. Once I learned to respect his warning growls and not chase him when he ran away from me, we were friends. And I've been friends with almost every dog I've met since.
I can't imagine a life where I woke up absolutely alone. As alone as I am, there is still a warm body to reach out and touch when I awaken in the night with a nightmare or hunger pains or yearnings. Someone who is happy to snuggle closer on cold nights and to lick away my tears if I cry. And dance around me when I laugh. They may be "just dogs" but they are my friends...my best friends...and I will never give them up for someone I've just met no matter how important the new person may be to me.
I never used to feel the need to explain this to someone I'd just started dating. I always said I had two house dogs (I can't imagine having pets that didn't share my life when I'm indoors as well as outside, but I respect the opinions of those that do) and two indoor-outdoor cats. I always assumed it was universal that pets that share your life are "family." If I still had a mom and dad and siblings, I wouldn't be quick to "get rid of them" either for a new man in my life. But a few months ago I dated someone who lived a fairly good distance away (anything under a six hour drive is a day trip for me, over six "a good distance"). We decided we wanted to meet, but were waffling over how to go about that. One of the dangers in dating online and finding someone interesting across the country from you. I could have flown to him, but I'd have to board my dogs. So, explaining that upfront as my reason, I invited him to visit me (stop shaking your head, don't judge me...I did my background searches, I'm not an idiot). He arrived and made himself at home in my guest room upstairs. I kept the dogs locked in my bedroom downstairs since he had been very upfront about the fact that he'd never been around dogs much.
This was a red flag I will never again ignore.
The next morning I was awakened by screams of horror coming down the stairs. I raced up to find my two girls dancing around his bed, excited by the fact that 'we has company, mom!' I laughed. He didn't find it amusing. I tried to be understanding, but good heavens. They weigh 7-10 pounds. Their tails were wagging and they were too short to even jump up on the bed! If they'd been 150 pound snarling beasts, I could have been a little more sympathetic.
I dragged them back downstairs and locked them back in my bedroom. He tentatively came downstairs, scolding me for not having "more control" over my "animals".
Needless to say, the weekend did not go well. Every time the dogs were around he shrunk into himself, not out of fear of being bitten I eventually realized, but the germ aspect. I never let him know that the dogs had probably licked the plates he ate from and drank from the glasses. They'd been through a steamy dishwasher cycle, but I'm pretty sure he would have demanded I take him to the ER, or call Poison Control. We had a lovely time when we were in the car going sightseeing, but his belief that I was an inch away from being condemned by the Health Department because I actually had a 'cat toilet' in my home made me more than a little uncomfortable when we were in my home that I'm sure he saw as some third-world hovel. The visit ended and we kissed goodbye at the airport. A very firm goodbye. He was a lovely man and in another time and place I could have flipped head over heels. But in this time, and in this place, I couldn't get past the overriding thought that he was a germophobic weenie.
I'm pretty much "over" the whole dating thing. I'm tired of bouncing, I'm tired of heart cracks and I'm tired of having to explain myself to men that have no clue how to deal with a woman who doesn't go to church every Sunday, attend various social functions throughout the week and have a three course meal set out every evening by six. Everyone says they want "different" and "unique" and "quirky" but few can deal with it when faced with it in person. I think the majority have some ideal woman at the very back of their subconscious mind that wears pearls and an apron during the day (aka June Cleaver syndrome) and silk teddies and a garter at night. The fact that I prefer to be sans clothes as much as possible sounds good on paper I guess, maybe I should add an apron and pearls and high heels to my birthday suit?
Although my interest has waned and my belief that "he is out there" is weakening, I'm not taking down my online profile. As flexible as I can be in my expectations, I have very few dealbreakers. But, I think I may add the disclaimer. In caps. "Must Love Dogs."
It is tough being single. It's even tougher when you decide you don't want to be alone any more and you open up your heart to the possibility of finding the person that can make your dreams come true and help you dream new ones.
I think it must have been easier back in our parent's and grandparent's day when your world was fairly small. You kept your eye on someone from grade school and when you became an adult, you hoped he came calling and courting. If he didn't, you started down the list of neighbors. Every new person in the community brought anticipation and the thought of possibilities. It wasn't uncommon for brothers to marry women who were sisters (not theirs, despite what you've heard about Southern family trees...the resulting offspring of these brothers-to-sisters marriages were the "double first cousins" that started the whole raised eyebrow thing even though it was totally innocent) that they'd met when the siblings went along as a chaperone and ended up needed chaperoning themselves.
Today, our world is bigger. But the internet brings the far parts of the world closer to us. It makes it seem simple to place an ad online saying you're looking and what you're looking for and sit back and wait for the right person to respond. And therin lies the rub. So many respond that aren't the "right people." They may be fakes, game players (and not the Scrabble and UNO that we all love), scammers or even just miserable folks who really have no idea how much their fears and insecurities end up screwing up life for the rest of us. I don't know. Maybe I'm one of the ones with the fears and insecurities, but I sincerely hope I haven't screwed up anyone's life. I think I've been too busy getting my own screwed with.
I get 20-30 emails a week on my dating profile on OK Cupid. Only one or two are a genuine male person seeking a genuine female person such as myself. A slightly larger number are the fodder of a bathroom wall waiting to happen: "for a good time call BR-549." The rest are scammers of one sort or another. Thankfully, they are pretty easy to sort through. I don't even look at the profiles of anyone who writes only, "Hi there." or "Hello beautiful" in their initial letter. 99.9% of the time if you say hello back you get a cut and pasted response telling you about the wife that died a few years ago leaving them with a small child (or two) to raise. The story goes on that they are tired of living alone, need a good woman to share life with them and be a family. Words created and strung together to appeal to the desperate lonely that want so badly to 'belong' somewhere that they ignore the warning signs of broken English from someone supposedly born and raised in Tennessee or Tupelo and grammar that is so different from standard English that moderators on dating sites have given it the monniker "scammer grammar" as an excuse to delete the perpetrators from the site's membership roster.
I relish the days I get a letter from that first group. I love meeting new people, and although even the most optimistic has to admit that most of the time budding relationships don't survive past the initial giddy rush of "this could be IT," hope springs eternal that just like Sam Beckett, we will close our eyes and jump, and this one will be the leap home. I love learning new things from people who have walked in almost lane of most roads of life. From near-vagrants to multi-millionaire's, I've gotten letters from them all. From the painfully shy to the brazen and the hopefully optimistic to those nearing hopelessness. And a few, a very few, I've let creep into my heart.
With the exception of a couple of men that have become dear friends and I hope will always be in my life, every leap has been disastrous for me. I care too quickly and too deeply and when the inevitable end comes, my heart gets cracked. My niece said to me, when I told her I was a bit in the dumps after being "ghosted" by a guy that I honestly had thought was the nearest thing to Mr. Right that I'd met in 15 years, "Good grief. Your heart must be mostly Super Glue by this time." She's right. Most people have more sense than to open themselves up to this kind of heart ache and their lives to this kind of stress. I've never been anything close to being a "most people."
And the knowledge that I could get hurt isn't going to stop me. The next letter I get that says "Hi there, I think maybe my life needs a little more gypsy-mermaid-hippie in it" I will respond with "Nice to meet you! Tell me more about yourself" and the next few days (weeks, months) will be filled with long talks, online chats and discussions and for a while I can almost forget that I'm in the last quarter of my life. I'm one cat away from being "the crazy cat lady" and because of my character quirks and vagaries, likely to stay that way. Most men don't want to get an idea one day to take a week long road trip and be packed and rolling out the driveway the next day. Most don't like the idea of spending an entire day in bed or on the couch reading books or binge-watching Netflix or wandering back roads just to see what's there. Most men don't want to take off for a weekend at the World's Longest Yard Sale or stay up 'til the wee hours at a wonderful antique auction where treasures are going under the gavel for junk prices. They don't want to take on a two acre jungle as a landscaping project or make plans to turn the barn into a guest house. They don't want to spend their weekends painting old furniture or gutting a little vintage camper trailer to rebuild it as a companion on those roadtrips. Most men don't want to be wanted and needed as much as I do. They don't want the complication of being head over heels in love with someone who feels the same.
Luckily, or maybe unluckily, I'm not looking for most men though. Just one very unique one.
And even though I may need to invest in stock for Super Glue or Gorilla Glue, I'm not going to stop so long as I'm breathing. Where there's life, there's hope. And I refuse to settle for anything less than everything this time. He is going to be the last love of my life. And he's worth waiting, and running out of Super Glue for.
Well, he was partly right. I don't mind spiders, but I HATE SNAKES. I have never seen one that I thought was "beautiful" or "interesting" or anything other than "back-of-the-neck-clenching-hideous." I respect everyone's right to own snakes, love snakes, handle snakes or swerve around them when they see them crossing a road...but I will never understand. It's like voting. I respect your right to have voted for an idiot, but I don't have to understand it or like it or agree. And I can't help but doubt your sanity when you tell me about it.
What prompted this outpouring of serpent disgust? One of my gorgeous fantail pigeons had been faithfully setting on 4 beautiful little eggs. I was so excited. I had moved her and the egglings right up on my front porch in a bunny hutch that I placed right outside my bedroom window. Over the past few weeks I had chased off raccoons and possums and the occasional dachshund that showed too much interest in their cage and I was counting the days to hatching. Think about it, have YOU ever seen a newborn pigeon? It always seemed to me that they were hatched as adults. I see flocks of pigeons in cities, all exactly the same size and apparent age. No babies. You sometimes see baby wild birds in different stages of fledging, but, not pigeons. I was mesmerized. Every morning when I gave them their breakfast, I couldn't wait for mama to step off her nest for a few moments so I could see her eggs. The morning they were due to hatch I made them a special breakfast, hoping mama would stay off just a few minutes longer and I would get a chance to see the new babies.
Surprise. She was already off the nest. I leaned in closer...and the nest was empty. I got a flashlight so I could see into the dark corners where surely the babies were hiding. Nope. No babies. No eggs. Had it been any predator other than a snake there would have been some sign of the drama. Egg shells, baby bird parts, something to give a hint as to what had done the damage. The fact that there was nothing aimed a bright red flaming arrow in the direction of...a snake. The only creature that makes eggs just disappear.
I don't care if it was a poisonous snake or a "beneficial snake" if I find out who did it, he will pay. I'm thinking I'd look really snazzy in a snakeskin belt, with maybe some snake tooth earrings, and possibly toss a few snake steaks on the barbie. Yeah. I'm that mad. (Although my skin crawled a little bit when I was thinking about a snake skin anywhere near my body whether or not the snake was inhabiting it at the time.)
Don't give me the old "it's just nature" argument. It's NOT nature. It ate my PETS! I have ten acres filled with wildlife. Frogs, birds, toads...lots of things that snakes eat. I know. I've seen them. But, this one came on my porch and ate my pre-pets. It's war. Don't give me the "flying rat" argument either and tell me that pigeons are a scourge. I know they can be pests sometimes. Mine aren't.
I learned that snakes hate cloves and cinnamon, so my yard at the moment smells like Thanksgiving. I read that they won't cross a grass rope, so there is one strung around the aviary where the unhappy couple is not presiding again. If I find out that they are afraid of aardvarks, I may be in the market for one. I wish I could afford a mongoose.
If you know any snakes that are looking for a new home, send them my way. I need the target practice. And, Lori, just look away. And hush.
(Yesterday I spent a lovely day with a friend. We went on a picnic and a drive through Little River Canyon. Gorgeous day, good company. (Thank you!) We were talking about how hard it is to choose a life partner, and that sometimes what we think is a good decision turns into a bad one. We both have been there. With a beautiful long relationship, followed by a shorter one with dark twists and turns. Both of us afraid to step into the next relationship, unsure of our ability to choose. We did OK the first time, but that second one. Gulp. Even with the good parts, the dark parts were awfully dark.
Since my second husband passed away, my life has undergone some of the most drastic changes of my life. I'd never lived alone for any length of time. That was a culture shock for me. I'm not afraid to live alone (I'm not afraid of much any more...except maybe snakes, ok, yeah, definitely snakes) but I don't like it. I'm not afraid to meet new people and put myself "out there" but I'm still afraid of taking that step into "a relationship." What if it's another mistake? What if it damages me as much as I was damaged in my last? I know I'm round, but really, how many times can I bounce without breaking?
I'm sort of ambiguous when asked "what do you want" when I'm filling out a dating site questionnaire. "I want to be happy. And make him happy." Beyond that, I get sort of grey with my answers. Why knows what love looks like? I can't honestly fill out a form asking for hair color (don't care if he has any, nor what color or where it is), body shape (love makes anyone beautiful), eye color (so long as they're willing to gaze into mine with honesty and devotion, I couldn't care less) or annual salary (you can't buy the things that matter, money is wonderful, but I can't imagine any relationship decision made on money having any lasting quality). Don't care if his teeth sleep in a glass on a shelf, so long as he has them. Don't care what he drives, so long as he knows how to fix it if it breaks (I can't, and if we're poor we can't afford to hire a mechanic). Don't care where he lives (although I do love my house and neighbors, I'd relocate to follow my heart almost anywhere). You'd think it would be easy to find someone to fit into that vaguely shaped gray outline wouldn't you? But it's not. Because, on some things I'm adamant. There is no grey, there is only black and white. And the things I care about are rarely on a dating profile questionnaire. The person that fits into my outline has to have a good soul. A happy heart. A kind outlook on life. An open mind. Has to truly enjoy laughing. And most of all, be open to loving their partner with everything they are. ("Must love dogs" isn't just a movie title in my life either.)
Those men are hard to find. Some have none of those must-haves. Some have some. Few have all. I've gotten all upbeat over meeting someone who shares my views on life and is intelligent enough to want to converse on myriad subjects...only to discover the untenable flaws as time went by. I read a bumper sticker once that said "Before you choose a mate, untangle Christmas lights with him." I laughed then, but that's not a bad idea. I don't want to be with someone with whom every bump in the road brings a dramatic outburst that takes me way too quickly back to childhood moments with my drama queen parents. If we're together, we can get through anything. Tangled lights, bad medical report, spilled perfume, dog poop in the floor. No biggie. We can laugh together through most of it and cry together through the rest. Either way, we get through it together.
I also don't want to be with someone who can't see the sunshine for the rain. I'm not a Suzy Sunshine by any stretch of the imagination. I have my ups and downs just like everybody else. But I do try to put as good a spin on "disasters" as possible. We had a flat? Good thing we didn't pack too much stuff in the back over the spare tire, eh? Not, "oh my God! We have to take everything out. And it's hot. And...waaaah." If it rains on our parade, there's no reason to whine or kick something, just get a bigger umbrella we can sit underneath together. We'll still have fun! We're together. We have problems? I'll push, you pull. We'll get there.
I also can't live with someone who can't be tolerant of other people's views and opinions. I don't care who you do or don't pray to, so long as you practice the teachings of Jesus (tolerance, peace and love). I don't care who you vote for, so long as you are tolerant of the views of those who didn't vote that way (especially me). However sure you are of your opinions, someone else will be just as sure of the opposite. And they have the right to that without argument. (I hate arguments, someone who wants to fight, argue, yell, threaten, preach, teach, and shake their finger in my face will NEVER find their way into my heart again. EVER.) The kind heart is a deal-breaker. If you wouldn't stop and pick up a tiny wet puppy from the middle of a busy highway, when it's starting to sleet and snow, then you won't be happy with me. Because I will. (If we are together and you refuse, you're going to witness a hissy fit to end all hissy fits.)
With all that said, I'm not sure it's meant for me to find someone to finish up the last of my life with. I'm not willing to be swayed on any of those black and white issues. After living with someone who filled so very many of them, but not quite all, I know how important each one is to me now.
Today is the anniversary of my second husband's death. We had some very very good times together that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and some that were not very good at all. I grieved his passing, and I mark this anniversary with tears. For both of us. (The right man would also understand that grieving the passing of a past love has nothing to do with the hope for happiness in our future together.)
And I wrote this song...(Please imagine it sung in Paul Thorn style)
I'M NOT THAT LONELY. YET.
c. By Bobbye L. Hudspeth
1. Yesterday and tomorrow; Enemies and friends.
The past and the future; Beginnings and ends.
Life’s a tapestry woven in colors so true
All made up of the choices fate made for you.
Laughter and sadness; Sunshine and rain
Loving and hating and smiles that hide pain
Can’t help but wonder what might have been
Will it be different if I start again?
Cause the Lord knows I’m lonely and I don’t like this road
Don’t like walking alone and I’m tired of this load
Sometimes I want to start over; leave behind my regrets
Sometimes I want to just end it…but I’m not that lonely. Yet.
2. I wake up each morning and I look out the window
And I wonder what each day will bring
I do all of my chores, then I do all of yours,
These days I have to do everything.
Then that night the darkness brings thoughts to my mind
Of happier days and happier times
And I think of just closing my eyes that last time
But then dreams of the future will creep in my mind.
'Cause the Lord knows I’m lonely, and I don’t like this road
I don’t like walking alone, and I’m tired of this load
My heart says do whatever it takes to forget
Then my soul reminds me, I’m not that lonely. Yet.
With the roll of a dice or the turn of a card
There’s choices made easy and choices made hard
We are what life makes us out of which road we chose
We decide to feel the thorn or we can see the rose.
My heart say do whatever it takes to forget...
Then my soul reminds me, I'm not that lonely. Yet.
"I have become the world's biggest Paul Thorn fan. I'd never heard of him until I saw mention of him on someone's dating profile. Seriously, I learn the weirdest and coolest things from just reading dating profiles of men I will never meet. I Googled him, then checked him out on YouTube and I have been mesmerized ever since. My Pandora has a "Paul Thorn" channel now. The only single person channel on my list except for my other crush, Randy Travis. Paul's voice lacks the deep soul-stirring timbre of Randy's, but both of their songwriting talent blows me away. And now that Randy is no long recording (bless him) I needed some new stuff to keep me going. Paul is providing that. In spades. He's a fabulous guitar player, very bluesy with a bit of rock and roll and...well, do a YouTube search, see for yourself.
Not only is he my new favorite musical artist, he must be one of the funniest men in the world. His banter between sets has me giggling like a lunatic and just the titles of his songs are enough to put a grin on your face. "Pimps and Preachers," "I Don't Like Half the Folks I Love," "Buckskin Jones's Illegitimate Son," "Joanie the Jehovah's Witness Stripper," and "Old Stray Dogs and Jesus" are the ones that stuck in my mind. His background was growing up with a Pentecostal preacher father, which shows up in a lot of his songs, whether he's singing about praising Jesus or poking fun at some of the people he met along the way. He's cut several Southern gospel records, and his voice fits them perfectly.
His slow southern drawl is a more perfect fit though with some of his somewhat bawdy stories. Like the one where he broke up with his girlfriend because he thought she was cheating. Then decided he wanted her back. "Well", she said, "I will come back to you after Monday."" Why Monday," he asked. "I'm going on a ski weekend with a friend this weekend and when we get back you and I will get together." Monday comes, they get together and they start to have sex. And he sees a hickey "on her ass cheek." Ski trip with a "friend"....riiiiight. "But," he drawls, "It didn't stop me. I just turned her over." ("I Bet He Knows")
Another was discussing that first time with a new lover. How you have all that buildup, all that excitement. "Oh baby," he says in that low sexy voice. "This is going to be so good. Wasn't it?"
That's how my life has seemed. So much anticipation, so much planning and working to make things happen...then all of a sudden it's over. I'm determined to take things slower. Enjoy more of the "dash." You know that story? How on a tombstone someone's life is summed up as "December 10, 1956-January 18, 2012." Those dates are important, birth and death...but who you are is all summed up in that dash. An entire life in a tiny little -. We've all wasted too much of our dash already. Make the most of whatever is left! Don't sweat the little stuff. Just roll 'er over.
THAT'S MY STORY
I've never been normal. I've never tried to be. I can't imagine anything more boring.
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