The antebellum period was the era before the American Civil War. At least, that's the official definition of it. I have a different definition, AND a different spelling.
I am in my own personal "Anti Belle"-um period. I have lived my entire life trying to be the person that someone else wanted me to be. My mother and grandmother used the term "being a lady" so much when I was very young that I got it all confused with my potty training and until I was five years old, if we were in public and I needed to pee, I would tug my mother's sleeve and tell her I had to "go be a lady." I was filled with warnings and admonitions of what a lady did and didn't, would and wouldn't do. (Wetting your pants was then, and I assume is still, one of the things on the "don't do" list). One of my mother's pet phrases that she could use out in public was "my little Southern Belle." She was so disappointed that I grew up wanting suspenders instead of ruffles and preferred barefoot to teetering heels. I tried, but some things even I couldn't do. I pushed my little square peg of a self into the round hole as much as possible, but there was a little bit too much of me to fit.
I was always chided when I was too loud or too quiet, if my jokes were too off color. My skirts couldn't be too short, my hair couldn't be too long and my choices of boyfriends was always too wrong. So, I grew up thinking that being "too much" was a bad thing.
When my life changed recently, once I'd stopped crying (which took a bit. Everyone grieves differently, and I grieve as hard as I love and live. A little "too" much maybe?) I took a good long look at myself. At who I have become, who I thought I would be and who I want to be. So very little of "me" is present in either my outward or my inward appearance. Over the decades, especially this last one, I've lost much of the spark that made me "me." One of my dearest friends and I discuss the fact that the magic has gone from our lives. And it has nothing to do with age itself, it is what life has done to us as we aged. What we allowed it to do. We stood back and watched while the magic died, and inside we grieved while on the outside we still smiled and laughed and lived. And pretended that it was all ok. Because, that's what ladies do.
No more. I am 58 years old. I have no clue who I'm going to be when (if?) I grow up. I have started the journey of self-discovery the same way I have gone after everything else I've ever truly wanted in my life. Looking it straight in the eye and charging ahead. It worked with cancer (twice). It worked with businesses I've begun. It worked with relationships (sort of). The only difference now is that I'm not armed with the warnings and threats and admonitions of husbands, parents, friends or anyone else. Only my own words in my own ears.
"To Thine Own Self Be True." Not my parents, not my grandparents, not my cousins or uncles or aunts. Not my brother or my sister or my pastor or my teachers. Not husbands or lovers or friends. Only "Mine Own Self."
I Want To Meet Me.
I think I'm going to like me. I like the inward changes I've made. They don't show up on the outside yet, but they will. I've joined a gym. I'm expanding new work and social horizons. I'm taking a deep breath and jumping off of docks before I stick a toe in the water. I am jumping on the faith that the water won't be too cold, too deep, or running too quickly. If so, that's ok. I know how to swim.
Little by little, I can feel me changing. Like a fuzzy caterpillar that feels a change going on and prays that it is wings starting to form, I too pray. Because I am ready to fly.
I was very sick of the all-grey look of my hair. Grief turned it almost totally white almost overnight. Certainly in the month between haircuts, it was apparent to my hairdresser and I that things, they were a changing. So, today I got a bit of my natural dark brown woven in among the grey. And in one tiny spot, an almost imperceptible streak of purple. Nothing bold or brassy. A tiny outward display of major inward changes.
I want to do the things I've always wanted to do and didn't because someone else didn't want to, or didn't want me to. I want my body back...the one I had before I let myself go, in what I realize now was likely an attempt to make myself unattractive so no one would notice me and I wouldn't be tempted to cheat.
I want to learn to appreciate good wine. I want to learn how to blow glass. I want to drive across the country. I want to stand on the top of a mountain I've never seen before and yell into the wind that "I made it." (Even if I have to drive there to do it). I want to remember how to dream, and learn how to make them come true. I want to have another man look at me with passion and love in his eyes someday. And I want to return the look. I want to laugh and cry and live.
In a most decidedly "Anti-Belle"-um way.
There's a definite place for Southern Belles. Some of the most wonderful women I know fit that description to a T. But, I don't. And I'm tired of trying to.
My name is Bobbye, I am neither a lady nor a Southern Belle. I am a strong Southern woman, with roots that go deep and wings that can fly me to the stars. Nice to meet you. It's taken me a long time to get here, but I'm glad I came. It was worth putting pants on for.
I know it's Christmas Eve and I should be decking the halls and jingling the bells, but I am avoiding the holidays this year. Isn't it over yet?
So, in untraditional fashion, I chose a subject tonight that couldn't be farther from holiday greetings. We shall discuss for a while the lack of truth in advertising when it comes to online profiles. I have been cleaning off my computer after a few days in the computer hospital and I ran across something that I had written that inspired this posting.
I internet dated for a few years (buy a copy of "Hot Bubbles and Chocolate" when it comes out if you want a play by play of some of my bad internet dates...names changed only because I blocked them from my phone and my memory) and I've had profiles on pen pal sites off and on for quite some time. I much prefer pen pals to meeting men through dating sites. My wants and needs are quite different now than they were in my online dating years, and I'm quite content to make really good friends that care about getting to know me instead of what color underwear I'm wearing. When I've gone through bad stuff in my life, sometimes my pen pals are better for me than people who live next door (metaphorically speaking). And it's always nice to have good news to share, knowing there's someone who'll be happy for you. When choosing a pen pal, you're not concerned about looks (most sites don't allow photos, although of course you can ask for one later if you want) or location or job titles or annual income. Just the person behind the screen name. One of my pen pals is a married with kids Brit, we have a lot of things in common and never run out of things to talk about; another an 83 year old Scot with wicked sense of humor. He's made me laugh through tears more than once. All of my pen pals are male. It's my favorite flavor. I've always had more male friends than female and since I'm not a girly girl I find I have more in common to talk about with intelligent men than I do with women, no matter their level of intelligence. Other women specify they only want female pen pals. To each their own.
Even in the pen pal world, liars abound. And male predators are no different just because they are hunting in a different setting. You have to be careful, follow all of the online rules to a T. Never ever give out your phone number until you've known someone longer than just a few weeks and emails. Don't give out personal information until much much later. If ever. Use a dummy email acccount that you don't use for anything but internet chat. Don't use your real name, except possibly just your first name. Don't consider meeting in person until you are certain the one you're writing to is the one who will be meeting you at the restaurant, or (if you're much braver than I am) at the airport. A lot of people can carry on a charade a remarkably long time if they think there'll be a prize at the end. I will never understand why people think it's ok to treat someone else badly just because it's an "online thing." You should always remember in your dealings with the people who write to you, that those are real people behind those words, and treat them the way you want to be treated. While being aware that their grand-daddy may not have taught them that rule.
There have been very rare cases in my life where I knew almost instantly that someone was not only who he said he was, but that he was very special. And I broke my own rules. So, I will admit with a blush that this is one of those "do as I say, not as I do" lectures. It has only happened to me twice. The first time was the start of a year long relationship that was one of the happiest memories of my life. The second. Well, that's a secret. I'll tell you later.
Be careful when you're writing your profile not to give someone the wrong impression. There should be a handy cheat sheet of what men (and I'm sure women, although I don't read many women's profiles so I don't know) really mean by what they say in their online profiles. It wouldn't be very beneficial if men could know what women really mean by what they write because most of them won't read it anyway. It's like throwing chum in the water near a school of sharks to put your profile on a dating site. Almost instantly you will get a deluge of letters from men that could not be farther from what you've said you were looking for if they were in a rocket headed to the moon. Don't be flattered, be wary. This first wave is usually the desperates that haunt these sites hoping that if they send enough letters, even if they are horrid, that someone will eventually fall for their line. Obviously sometimes timing is everything and Mr. Right PenPal just happens to be searching when you hit send on your profile. So, yes, you're going to have to read every letter carefully. Look up their profile and double check them. And then decide whether they get the "sorry, but no" form letter or the "I'm intrigued, tell me more" one. And if someone is crude enough to send a first letter full of innuendoes, requests for sex talk or dirty pics, don't bother writing back. They don't deserve consideration.
I created a profile for a site that was offering a prize for the best one. (Some things changed here to make it sound more current. I think I was actually 47 when I wrote this.)
This is it.
I’m 58 and don’t look a day over 75. I’m totally physically fit and have been confused for a Victoria’s Secret model on multiple occasions. Only my knee replacement surgery scar kept me off this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue cover but there’s always next year. I’m fit as a fiddle. Don’t be jealous, but I can still wear the earrings I wore in high school. I would love to get sporadic poorly written emails from a man who is getting nice long interesting chatty emails from me and ignoring any questions I might ask, while also not responding to any deep thoughts I might share. Any sexual innuendo should absolutely not be carefully and artfully disguised in the form of playful banter or light flirting. Heaven forbid that wordplay come into motion. Or that intelligent conversation might slip in now and then.
Talking about the universe, our place in it, our lives, our hopes and our dreams are firmly discouraged. Deep thoughts and meditation give me a headache. I hate animals. If you have pets for heaven’s sake don’t write me. Especially if you’re one of those nuts that considers them “family.” I would love it if you’re a trophy hunter that kills only for the heads or tails or whatever you have hanging on all the wal. Preferably you don’t care about the environment, believe that your religion and race is the only one that matters, are intolerant towards other beliefs and think that tolerance shows weakness. It would be nice if we didn’t discuss our hobbies or interests. I don’t care what you’ve read. Or what you do for fun. I just want to know how well-hung you are.
If you have a great sense of humor and would rather laugh than talk dirty, move on to that cute little thing next in line that likes to take long walks on the beach and pet kitty cats. I’m just here for the sex chat. And maybe a few dollars.
Whether we have anything in common or not won’t matter to me, as I will only be writing to you long enough find out if you get a good pension/retirement package and how easily you can be separated from it. I need some help bailing my oldest son out of jail. It was a bum rap. His lawyer is using the SODDI defense (some other dude did it) and I am sure that he won’t do time. I hope not. He didn’t know the gun was loaded. The sun was in his eyes. His sister’s baby is due any day and since she doesn’t know who the daddy is, her brother is going to have to help out with the new kid. I’m busy with her other four. My ex-husband won’t help with any of the bills because he was never sure they were his kids anyway. (I wasn’t either).
The perfect pen pal for me would believe that women only get online on dating and pen pal sites if they are desperate for sexual attention from males. If you show the slightest indication that you respect a woman’s intelligence more than her body type you will be blocked from writing to me again. I am more than just a mind. I am a body that has been neglected far too long and needs a REAL man to remind me that I am a woman. You saw right through me, didn’tcha big guy? You’re right on. I only put in my profile that I’m “open-minded” because I would consider a threesome. And I’ve got this friend…
If there is even the slightest chance that there might be something in this relationship for me other than dirty talk and unasked for photos of your private parts, please don’t write. I have absolutely no interest in getting to know someone through long, nicely written, honest, truthful, interesting and interested letters over time. And don’t write to me if you have the slightest belief that you might fall in love with me. I can’t imagine a worse fate. Please, keep that foo foo love stuff to yourself. I’m only interested in the here and now and fame and fortune. The only possible instance that I would consider love talk is if it’s in the first week of our writing when you ask me to marry you because “I have such purty eyes.”
* * *
OK, if you’ve read this far, I hope you have a smile on your face. No matter what I write in a profile, most men read it as above. Don't be most men. Don't disappoint me by being just another jackass in nice-guy clothing. I've ridden too many good horses not to know a jackass when I see one.
You have my address if you’d like to correspond with an intelligent 58-year-old single lady who is not ashamed of the scars that prove that the things that tried to kill her failed or the lines that prove she has laughed more than she’s cried. . If you’d like to get to know someone who places honesty far above any other quality, a woman who has been around the block a few times, but still has a few more good miles left in her, who values good friendship and isn’t looking for instant love ...tell me about yourself.
If you see me somewhere, say hello. I'll write back, although I'm not "trolling" for new penpals any more. I caught my limit, and even had to toss back a few. I think all of my profiles are now closed, but you know how the internet is. What you put out there is always out there. Someplace. (Another reason to be careful about what you put in a profile that might come back to haunt you someday).
Until next time...
PS: Merry Christmas!
So, have you been hit with the llama riddle? The one that has turned all your friends into llamas? Or maybe you're a llama? I am. I got the riddle wrong. The sad thing is that I actually had heard it before and SHOULD have known better. But I got cocky and didn't give it thought and, now I have a llama as my profile pic. Mine is cute though, it has buck teeth and hairy ears. Reminds me of my Great Uncle Earl.
If you haven't been hit with the riddle yet, drop me a line (there's a form on the home page) and I will let you in on it. You just can't tell anyone I did. I heard that someone passed along the right answer and had to be a llama for life. Would that make me a llifer?
I pondered putting a pic of the Dalai Lama on there, but figured half my friends wouldn't get it and the other half would think it was silly. So, I have old bucktoothed Uncle Earl.
It's funny how these things go through Facebook. Like the time that women were supposed to write the last lingerie item they purchased as their status in support of some charity or the other. How that supported anybody I can never figure out, but I did it. Oddly enough, my "big white granny panties" didn't get any woo hoos like my friend's little black teddy. Of course I'm the only one that's telling the truth. She wouldn't be caught dead in a teddy. Or any underwear for that matter.
The next thing to go around you were supposed to put where your purse was as your status. "Front seat of the car" did a couple of woo hoos. If anyone asked what the statuses were all about ("anyone" being humans with penises) we were supposed to hint that it had to do with your first sexual encounter. One poor woman didn't know about the sex part and she just posted that it was "in the leather shop getting holes punched." Ouch.
I'm not sure what it says about us as a nation that so many of us find those little status things amusing. I admit I find it hard to not click if someone tells me they can tell me what kind of car I would be. Or what Pharoah owned me in a former life when I was a hound. I know it's a scam and they're getting my info. But, I lied on my info form, so I don't care. If they want to hack into my bank account, they're welcome to all thirty two dollars and forty two cents.
Until next time...
Last night was filled with lightning, thunder, tornado warnings (or watches, which is it if "conditions are favorable" but they haven't actually seen one) and that combined with my overactive mind meant that I never went to bed last night. I read. I watched TV. I tried on the dogs new sweaters. Purchases that were a total waste of money...Bailey became paralyzed when I put hers on and I had to remove it before she would take a step. Kindle stuck her head right in and pranced around a bit, then sat down and started removing it. She is such an escape artist, from shirts or fences.
It's still raining buckets out there. The creek is rising and winter grasses are showing up again. But, we are supposed to have a drastic temperature drop this afternoon and we are under a winter storm warning. That means of course that every grocery shelf is empty of toilet tissue, eggs, milk, bread and strawberry PopTarts. No kidding. WalMart has to keep extra stock of strawberry PopTarts because they are the first thing to leave the shelf in droves when snowflakes are in the weather forecast. No other flavors either. Trust me. You can Google it.
I would love to see a pretty snow. But I want to get it over with before I decide to run away from home for a few days. I have cabin fever and I think it's time I hit the road for a fun journey with the girls. They now have a fancy stroller to ride in when I stop and go into stores along the way. Camoflaged as "real babies" no one guesses that instead of a rosebud lipped human inside, two little redheaded dachshunds are casing the joint. Now that I have the PTSD diagnosis, it's legal for me to have an Emotional Support animal(s). So, even if we get caught, I can beat the rap.
I'm finally getting a little sleepy. So, I'm off to bed. I guess my body has decided to live on Australia time? Until later, keep daydreaming!
I wish I lived somewhere that it snows more frequently. I don't want feet of snow, just a few inches, and I don't want it to last all winter, but I WANT SNOW! I want to see my trees outlined in white and see white lilypadlike spots floating in the creek. Right now there's nothing but leaves, everywhere I look. A blanket of snow would be a nice break from all this brown.
Living in the woods definitely has its perks, but falling leaves is not one of them. As soon as I get the leaf blower out and get the patio, walkways and decks all blown off...here comes another windstorm and the dogs are once again dashing through the leaves, now piled almost as high as their heads (mini dachshunds so still less than knee high, but still) in the areas that I don't attempt to keep blown clear.
I was on Pinterest one night (OK, one year...I don't ever stay logged out for very long) and I saw an easy way to make compost. You just bag up your excess leaves in black plastic bags. Poke a few holes in them and by springtime you will have compost. It will compost faster in sunlight than in shade. So, forover a year I've had black plastic bags piled up beside my garden shed. I finally needed some compost so I went to see how well it had worked for me. As soon as I untied the first one I discovered my fatal mistake. I forgot to put holes in the bags. I still had nice crunchy leaves. Lesson learned. In the corners of some concrete steps where the leaf blower didn't reach, leaves left over from last year have a nice layer of black dirt underneath the new leaves. I would assume that's what I would have had in my black bags if I hadn't been a forgetful doofus. Holes are punched now though, so NEXT spring I expect some compost, dammit. I quite enjoyed jabbing the holes, by the way. It was the bright spot of my day.
It's very pretty having a blanket of leaves in the woods. Fun to walk through, although it makes it difficult to sneak up on wildlife, but during our drought those leaves brought me nightmares. I kept them blown away from the house, but all it would have taken would have been a spark and the woods would have been a charred mess. Luckily, we're getting rain now. As much as we need it, I wish it would let the leaves on the walkways, patio and decks dry out so I could blow them. It's amazing how much a wet leaf weighs.
If you have any spare snowflakes, send them on down. Not too many though. Only enough for some pretty photos in the morning. You can have them back tomorrow, gently used as they say on eBay.
As I try to remember how to live, I'm realizing that that is very hard work indeed. I should be losing weight with all the extra walking I've been doing lately being forced to go to various places to stand in line to fill out forms and deliver documents (picking up the death certificate was so hard). Tremendously painful on my bum knee, but things must be done. Life does go on, and no matter how much I feel like just rolling up in a ball in the corner and waiting for someone to rescue me, facts are facts and there are no knights on white horses any more and I'm the only that can rescue me. Luckily I know myself pretty well, so I know where to start.
I would love to get a job and get some structure in my life, but that's impossible. (I am applying for SSI Disability) So I've started setting an alarm to go to bed and one to wake up. Only one of those works. Okay, neither one does. But I'm still trying. I set three goals for every day. I learned quickly to set the bar low so I could feel good about completing them. Today my goal was to tear out more carpet in my bedroom, wash the dishes and sweep the living room floor. The floor is swept, another 4x10 area of bare floor is exposed in the bedroom (I'm tearing it out a square at a time to make it manageable. And makes me feel like I'm getting more accomplished. I wrote a chapter in a new book and did more line editing in one that's awaiting publication. I cleaned out the sink so I can wash dishes easier (it was full of plants being watered) and the living room has been swept. Damn dishes. Did mention the dishwasher died just before Clark did?
If a cop walked into my house right now he would make the report "There are signs of an apparent struggle. The place has obviously been ransacked." You can barely walk down the hall filled with furniture out of the bedroom. I couldn't get the beds out, so I just keep rolling them around out of the way. I managed to pull not only a lot of carpet, but also that muscle under my shoulder blade that gives me so much trouble. (If I hadn't had a CT scan during an episode with it, I'd be sure my cancer had spread. Obviously it still crosses my mind. Muscle relaxers don't help. Driving off of a cliff is the only thing that might do it, but I'm still pondering that thought.) The kitchen is upside down with half of the cabinet tops tiled last weekend and the rest still needing grout. Meanwhile, the copious amounts of gadgets that usually line the counter tops are in teetering piles all around the kitchen. The dining room table is still loaded with stuff that has to be gone through. It still makes me tear up when I find notes from Clark. I have five huge bags of clothes to go to charity with more that need to go.
Living alone is a whole new ballgame for me. I have never done it. Last Monday marked the longest I'd ever stayed alone. Three weeks. I'm still wandering around trying to remember what day it is and what was it I came in here for? I'm trying to stay busy so I don't think too much (I'm in no condition to be making decisions about anything). But I find myself writing a few paragraphs and opening my mouth to call out "listen to this and see what you think." But, there's no one there. I get hungry and open my mouth to ask "what do you want for supper?" But there's no one there. At night my nightmares awaken me and I reach out a hand in the darkness. But there is no one there. I know it will get easier. I don't really mind being alone. I like solitude. I like me and I enjoy my company. But I miss the companionship of having someone in the house who was always willing to drop everything and go on a journey down backroads we'd never driven before, go for ice cream at midnight or decide one night to go on vacation the next day and just do it. I know those backroads are still there, and I can certainly go on vacation by myself. But, I'm used to being a part, not the whole. I want someone to hold me again and tell me "You will be ok." But, there's no one there.
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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