February 25, 2007

Ellen as hostess/bartender.

OK, I've been sick two weeks with this ridiculous sore throat and cold. Two weeks! For two weeks, this was my schedule: I worked, I came home, I crawled into my bed, and I watched TV until I fell asleep. No kidding. I started thinking that I might need an intervention, you know have some friends come over and drag me out of the house at night before I become a total hermit.

Thank goodness that, before I got sick, I had made a commitment to Rookie (www.supersinglemixers.com) to be a staffer at one of her parties. It was a Sake tasting and dance at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, a really lovely place I hadn't known existed. About one hundred people, and it looked like a good time was had by all. Great place, good food, a lesson in sake tasting, a piano player, and a DJ with good dance music.

My first task was being a greeter to the partygoers, directing them to the check-in table, and my co-host was Dale, a guy from Corona. From being with Dale, I learned that men like women for more than their breasts, but that they notice the size, shape, and whether they are wearing a bra before they notice hair color or height. I learned that dating today is different from seven years ago, that woman like more control and pay for more now than then. I learned that punctuality is important and that one shouldn't keep a date waiting. I learned that women no longer let the guy pick them up on the first date.

My second task was as bartender, a nice job. Offer a drink, fill their glass, and everyone is happy. Dale hung around, kept me company and kept me laughing, until he went to ask the DJ to put on a slow song so he could "rub up against me" and then spent the rest of the evening rubbing up against a tall, willowy blond.

So the evening was a success. Rookie puts in an enormous amount of effort to make her events fun and it shows. It looked like almost everyone was having a really good time. I had determined ahead of time not to be invisible, so I was outgoing, talked to everyone I encountered, and really enjoyed myself, even though the guy who propositioned me on the cruise acted like he didn't know me and that was kinda weird. Maybe I'm out of my sickness-imposed shell finally. Check out the pix above - what do you think?

February 20, 2007

Pet peeves.

I really shouldn't write this. I'm a bit cranky. I've had the same cold and sore throat for nine days. It's like the movie Groundhog Day, when Bill Murray wakes up every day knowing that it will be the same weird day it was before. I've worked but not played much since I've been sick, thinking that taking care of my body and resting was the best medicine. Next time, I think I'll try the be-crazy-and-do-whatever-I-please remedy and see if that works.

But it's also been a weird time for me, other than the cold. I'm occasionally asked what are my pet peeves and I can't ever think of something on the spot. Traffic? Rude people? Men? Ok, really now, I admit I'm usually an upbeat person. I prefer to surround myself with happy people who laugh easily and I usually actually don't feel well around people with "victim" mentality or who are critical or negative. Now this week, I've been confronted, like right in my face, with a few pet peeves that are just shouting at me! Listen, they say! You hate this!!!

Ya want to know what they are, don't you? OK, here goes:

1) Not accepting responsibility for one's actions, as in blaming others when we screw up. On Monday, a patient called and blamed me for his missing an appointment the previous Friday. I had called him three days before and sent him an instruction sheet with date, time, and place, but apparently I neglected to call him the day before so it was my fault. And today, a surgical rep forgot to show up with his instruments for today's surgery and told my boss that I had told him it was next week. Good thing I document all my calls, but still?

2) Extremes in thinking, like saying "you always" or "you never" or saying that all women do this or all men do that. Aaaagggghhhh! In recent emails this week, I've read that "most women are not motivated to go out of their way to please a man in any way" and that "men are afraid to date because women expect them to pay for $200 dinners" and that during those dinners "women take their cell phones to the ladies room for long periods of time" and that "women want expensive vacations and cruises and don't want to work." I hardly know what to say about this, except that "always" and "never" are very rarely appropriate and that there is no way to say that "all" men or "all" women do anything. Stop that. It just is bad logic. Bad. And it leads to my next pet peeve.

3) Assumptions. I just hate assumptions. I admit that we women do this. One of us will call the other and relate something their date just said or did and ask for an explanation. I figure we could easily come up with 20 or 30 or maybe 100 believable explanations and then pick the one we like the best and then what would be have? Yes, an assumption. And the chances are pretty high that we would be wrong and then we would base our actions on an erroneous assumption. Which doesn't make any sense at all. My favorite assumption of the week was a comment related to my post about how we secrete hormones that cause us to "attach" when touched or kissed - so someone writes to me that we can bond by standing within 3 feet of the other person or hearing a voice on the phone and then writes "I have noticed that women instinctively keep their distance from men and now I know why." Isn't that nuts? How could anyone connect those dots?!?

I told you I was cranky, didn't I? But it's nice to get this off my bountiful chest. So what did we learn today? Accept responsibility for our actions. If you f**k up, just say it! Much better on the stomach and the arteries, plus it leads to honesty and integrity, those buzzwords that most of us have on our online profiles. Second, never say always or never when talking about people. Look at the action of the moment, talk about what's happening now, and leave the baggage in the bag. And finally, don't assume. How easy this is - just ask! If you find yourself coming to conclusions about what someone is saying or how they are acting, just check it out. Ask questions. Find out the truth. You're afraid to do this? What's the worst that can happen? You can get to know the real person and have a really honest relationship? Lovely idea.

That's it. Thanks for reading. Where's my cough syrup?

February 17, 2007

Ellen goes out....

It can happen. Sometimes I go out. Actually, this is a quiet time for me, and I like it. I remember, maybe ten years ago, buying books on solitude, knowing that learning to enjoy being alone was important. I usually think that I can change something about myself quickly, just by hearing it or reading a book about it, but really we change slowly, little by little, incorporating something new into our lives and our hearts and our actions over time. So, many books and some therapy and ten years later I am enjoying being alone. I love to sit outside, listen to the birds, and feel the wind against my skin or curl up with a good book or just watch a movie on TV. Alone.

But there must be balance to have health. I know that. So, when my new friend and new WOW member Rookie MacPherson invited me to be a staffer at her recent dance (http://www.supersinglemixers.com/) I said yes. I would get to wear a costume and carpool and have dinner before with my friend (and WOW member) Pam, so that would be extra nice. I admit I was nervous, not having been in a large group of single people lately, but I knew I had to do it. First, I had made a commitment and I am big on keeping commitments. Second, I knew I had to get back into the social scene, and this would be an easy way to do it, working as a staffer and having a reason to talk to the crowd, one by one. So there I was.

It turned out to be a fun event. Rookie apparently spends months and lots of time and energy planning her events so that singles our age will have fun and have more to do than sit around and wait for something to happen. There was a DJ, food, drinks, fun tables (tarot card reading, Chinese face reading, foot rubs), and a trivia contest. I dressed as a Sorceress and Pam was Dracula and we greeted the incoming guests with an explanation of the Trivia game and the location of the name-tag table. As usual, however, I felt invisible, like no one could see me, since none of the guys approached me and started a conversation. Rookie says we are just too beautiful and full of energy for men to have the courage to get near us, but she's been dateless for longer than I have, which is amazing considering that she is beautiful, smart, and very funny. Who knows?

Anyway, I had fun being a greeter and got a foot rub, which was wonderful. Pam got her cards read and a foot rub and, considering the blissful look on her face, I assume it was as good as mine. When I looked around the ballroom, there was lots of mixing and dancing and conversations, and it looked like the singles in attendance were having a really good time. Kudos to our Rookie. And now she's invited me to work at her upcoming Sake Tasting Event, so I will have one more chance to be social. And maybe this time, I won't be invisible.

February 14, 2007

Is February the month of love?

So, yes, I am Valentine-challenged. Without a boyfriend. Without a lover. But you know that. And this month I am constantly bombarded with reminders of Valentine's day, the holiday of lovers, and what should I say? Is it tough for me and my similarly Valentine-challenged friends to be reminded of what we don't have?

First, about my married or attached friends. I've heard from several who have mates who "hate" Valentine's Day, calling it a Hallmark holiday and swearing not to honor the occasion. Other friends lie in wait, hoping that this is the year that they receive a thoughtful gift, something other than roses and candy. Others who are not so happy in their relationship aren't looking forward receiving their usual "I'm sorry I'm such a jerk all year, but maybe these expensive flowers will make up for it" gift. And the restaurants are packed, the flower shops have their second best day of the year (after Mother's Day), and the men feel like they've done the right thing and are redeemed for the times they didn't.

Even my email boldly reminds me today about love. The Writer's Almanac tells me that the famous Yeats said that when he met the love of his life "the troubles of my life began." Although he proposed almost immediately, she refused, saying that believed in magic and the occult and that they had been brother and sister in a previous life, but apparently she inspired some of his greatest poetry. E.B. White was ready to give up writing when an editor told him he was a great writer who just hadn't produced his masterpiece yet. She said that giving up writing would be like "a violinist giving up music, the thing he most loved, because he can't be the best." He married her. When Sylvia Plath met the poet Ted Hughes, he led her to the side of the room, kissed her "bang smash on the mouth, ripped off her earrings and headband," and she responded by biting him "long and hard on the cheek...blood running down his face." We know how her life ended. And one of those emails that you're not supposed to open writes that someone wants to give me a $500 Victoria Secret gift card, just click here! I was really looking forward to reading Dr. Laura Berman's Passion Files, titled "No Valentine? No Problem!" and then found that the ten suggestions for pampering myself ended in the middle of #2 "Give a little loving attention to...." I'll never know. Cupid.com Predating invited me to their speed dating events, but none of them were for anyone over 49. And in my Today's Inspiration, Brendan Behan is quoted as saying "The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink, and somebody to love you." But he spent much of his life in a Dublin jail, became famous after writing a play, and the drank himself to death at the age of 41.

Oh Ellen, you say, have you become so cynical? The reality is that I think of love as a verb, something one does, not something one waits to receive. I can either live my life hoping for someone to love me, or I can become someone who loves. I can be a victim, sorrowful about the lack of romance in my life, or I can be one who spreads love and joy everywhere. I can smile at the people I pass on the street, I can help the elderly lady put her groceries in the car at the market, I can answer the phone at work with a smile in my voice and give my patients an extra few minutes when they are worried. I can tell my loyal friends how much I appreciate them and I can share with my new friends the pleasure of meeting them. And I can hug and kiss and play with my grandchildren and remind my daughter of her beauty and kindness to others.

Someone told me recently that it was OK to be loved, but that it was better to "be love." It's not easy to meet someone with whom we feel that chemistry and connection, that romantic love that is celebrated today. But it is possible, every day of our lives, to spread a little bit of love to everyone we encounter. That kind of love is always available.....and has no end.

February 7, 2007

Are we dating or are we at war?

I've heard from so many of you women lately, especially those married for a long time and now divorced, that you may not want to have a man in your life again. You've gotten over the bitter divorce, are on the path to healing the old wounds, and are creating the life you always wanted. You are happy with living alone, delighted at your freedom, and fear going back to unhappiness and being controlled and losing your identity.

But does it have to be that way? Aren't we women who have grown and changed and wouldn't we attract someone respectful of who we have become? Couldn't we create a new relationship that is fulfilling and joyful and allows us to be fully ourselves, our new selves? Can't we attract a man who finds this new us to be utterly delightful?

Not if there is a war going on. Not if we fight them for power. Not if we refuse to be feminine and soft. Not if we have to win. Not if we are so afraid to return to our old selves that we won't let someone be close to us, to let them "in." Remember the psychologist Dr. Toni Grant? She wrote a long time ago about us "Amazon" women, that we deeply fear the submersion of our personalities when bonding to men, thinking that such bonding means attachment which requires surrender and transformation of our identity. To us, she says, this really means losing our identities, that which we have worked so hard and long to create. To Dr. Grant, however, surrender in love means victory, the embracing the totality of one's feminine potential, of opening oneself up to a man with complete trust and faith, becoming more than one was before.

Just like everything else in life, we cannot enter such a relationship timidly or holding back. But either do it or don't, there's no middle ground. Love cannot exist with fear. We have much to gain by allowing ourselves, this new fabulous woman we have become, to fully participate in a new love affair, one that will enhance our lives and bring us the joy and fulfillment we missed the first time around. Surrender ladies, and create something amazing.

February 4, 2007

Should we be monogamous?

Maybe it's the full moon or we're all just geting more comfortable, us 50+ ladies, but I've had several conversations in the past week or so with women who are considering sex outside of marriage or committed relationships. They question the definition of monogamy and really it's not as easy to define as you may think.

Just some facts about monogamy from Google. A dictionary definition is having only one mate during a period of time. Ninety percent of bird species are monogamous throughout their lifetime. It's a useful social convention, defined by the culture in which we live. It's a dictim from God, starting with Adam and Eve. A high-profile actress recently said that monogamy is a weird thing, an overrated virtue, although she apparently started that quote with saying it's something she admires and aspires to. (She's the one whose famous hubby boinked their very young nanny.) And male chimps frequently and brutally beat their females, using branches as weapons, to police their wandering eyes, although the males routinely procreate with more than one female.

But the times, they are a changing, and the younger generation always leads. One-quarter of 18-24-year-old women are having sex with more than one partner at a time. Twenty-five percent of high school students are having what they call non-connected sex, and apparently much of this is initiated by the girls. We and his wife forgave Kobe for his very public indiscretions when he presented her with a huge diamond ring. We kept a President in office after he engaged in oral sex with an employee, lied about it, and then claimed that a blow job wasn't a sex act.

So, back to my women friends and what they really want. They are considering same-sex relationships outside of marriage and don't think it's violating their vows. They admit to often having fantasies about sex with another women while making love to their mates. Really, we women rarely see our women friends without kissing and hugging hello and good-bye, and sitting on a cough with our bodies touching is fine with us. So, if we kiss and hug, what's wrong with taking it a little farther? These women are not going to leave their long time husbands, but they admit they wouldn't exactly be comfortable telling their mates about these desires. If they do become intimate with a woman and don't tell him, is the secrecy itself breaking their vows or are some secrets OK in a marriage?

Morals and values are personal and we have to define them for ourselves, but such ideals are human constructs and depend on geography - we grow up believing that the values of the society in which we live are the right ones. In a changing society such as ours, where women no longer have to marry to survive, don't values change as well? Isn't it also possible that human beings are naturally bisexual, that we could be attracted to either men or women but that certain societies hinder this duality? Our friendships with other women are very different than our relationships with our men - would sex with them really violate our vows?