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I hate clichés, except when I love them.

A year and five days ago, I went on one of the worst dates I could have ever imagined. The guy was unattractive as he pounded beers, talked about how much he hates his job and hates the place he lives and hates that he has no friends, but nothing was as unattractive as when, at the end of the date, he made a homophobic joke about merchandise in a store window. It is the only date I was ever on when I texted my sister and had her make a rescue call. In retrospect, I should have just ended the date with a “no thanks, I don’t need your negativity!”

I was so tired of bad dates that it made me twitch, so I decided to take a break. No more reading profiles, no more awkward coffee dates, no more waiting for a text that might not come. Clichéd… so clichéd.

Three days later, I was up well past my bedtime, had already put my glasses on the bookcase, and I get a message: 

Ok, Mike, I guess I will take a look at your profile, but I don’t know… an hour later, having read what has to be the longest profile in the history of dating sites, as well as answers to questions, I figured that if I was interested enough to read that much, there is enough to respond. Except, I was tired. Like, really tired. I had no idea how to muster up the charming sweetness I tried to have in messages. So that is nearly exactly what I said: 

I wasn’t sure that the little smiley face at the end was going to make up for my complete inability to flirt, but I went with it. I had said I was done dating, but he said he wasn’t looking for serious. What harm was there in having someone who lived in the same little town, who could meet for dinner once in a while?

Our first date was July 29, 2015. At a tavern downtown, I walked in and was greeted by a huge smile and a white and orange Hawaiian shirt. I sat, terrified that I was going to be too nervous to be interesting. And then suddenly, it was three hours later, and I was fascinated by this guy. We left the restaurant and walked up and down the main street, flirting and laughing and oh my god, why won’t he just hold my hand already!? We got to his car, and he asked if he could kiss me. Swoon. Finally. He walked me to my car, and we stood there, talking, and he kissed me. I was not ready for this date to be over. So it wasn’t. We ended up sitting in his car for a few more hours, never running out of things to say, always smiling, wishing that the clock would stop. Our first date was seven hours long. 

But we didn’t have “serious” on the horizon. He had other commitments, like his show, which was just getting started. I had just started a new job, and was looking for a place to live, trying to get settled. A short while later, date three or four, maybe, there was a moment after he reacted unexpectedly to something I said, when I thought, oh no, I’m in trouble. If this keeps up, I’m going to fall really hard. 

I swear to you on my mother’s life, I did not expect the next year to go like it did. I couldn’t have imagined it. I had dreamed about it, but never thought it would happen. Not to me. Falling in love like this was something that happens to other girls. Prettier, thinner, funnier, braver girls. 

All those clichés, the annoying ones that keep young actresses on a steady diet of rom-com roles, happened. Have you seen Trainwreck? That part when she and her new boyfriend become that obnoxiously new, starry-eyed couple who make eyes at each other in restaurants, kiss in the freezer section, and all that stuff? Yeah, that’s us. AND I LOVE IT. I’ve become one of those women.  

There have been hard moments, when I’ve had to deal with insecurities or have a conversation I would like to avoid. But in each and every one of them, his response has been nearly perfect. 

When we got to the point that we were serious, I made a very conscious choice to not keep a running catalogue of all the things he has ever done “wrong,” or when he has done something to really upset me. Instead, started another list: romantic things he has done, and moments of sweetness. I didn’t want to overlook those things, and I wanted those things to be what I think of when I am upset. I wanted to remember, even when it was tough, that I have someone who loves me, and whom I love very much. Ugh, that is a cliché right out of a relationship expert handbook, except I started it without it being suggested. Can’t I just be normal?

In truth, there have been two times that I have been upset, and one of them was so minor that now, I can’t even remember what the cause is. But I would make Hallmark roll its eyes over the list of sweetnesses. 

The last year has been one surprise after another. Meeting people, going places, doing things: all great. What has surprises me more, though, is how easy it is to be with him. He is my home, no matter where I live. He is the first person I want to see in the morning  and the last person I want to see at night. He makes me laugh, encourages me, and believes in me, even when I struggle to. He is every damn cliché in the Guidebook for Lovely Boyfriends and sometimes I think my heart and head will literally explode. 

I do have a list of things he does that annoy me to the point of giving him the stink eye. In its entirety: 

  1. He leaves cabinet and microwave doors open (though he has mostly stopped leaving he dishwasher and kitchen drawers open, so there is hope).
  2. He squeezes the toothpaste in the middle and sometimes gets spit splatters on the faucet when he brushes his teeth. 
  3. He likes everything too loud.

I mean, ugh, men can be so annoying… meh, who am I kidding. He does the dishes without asking, so I totally don’t care about the toothpaste. 

I cannot believe how lucky I am. I know that people say that all the loveliness of a relationship changes and often lessens as it gets older, but that is the cliché I hope desperately to avoid. So far, I still think he is the best thing since peanut butter. 

Today is our anniversary, and we are going back to that same tavern. Despite having woken up next to him this morning, and having gone to work, holding his hand nearly the whole way, and having kissed him about two dozen times before I went to my office, I can’t wait to see him. I never expected him, or us.  But holy hell, I couldn’t be happier about it. 

Before one of his shows

After a very long, very excellent birthday

He was mid-laugh on this one. It’s one of my favorites.

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Double Starbucks

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a double Starbucks day, but today is one. In fact, today might be the first double Starbucks day I have had since I resigned from professional ministry. Last night, I worked until 11, and then had to be back at work at 6 a.m., which doesn’t sound all that awful until I factor in the half-hour drive each way, the fact that I am never actually out on time, and still had to eat dinner when I got home and shower when I got up, and, perhaps more significantly, my brain is more likely to misbehave when I’ve not slept well. My first cup was a venti dark roast I picked up on my way in to work. When I got to work, the place was full of customers. Men just standing there, talking about nothing and drinking their coffees. I think I may have grumbled a hello as I stalked through them to get to the office.

I did not feel very pastor-y today. I didn’t want to have to see or interact with people. I didn’t want to listen to anyone’s problems. And for the love of everything holy, I did not have it in me to be gracious to other crabby people.

As a pastor, I should have known better: people seem to know when I feel least pastor-y, and that’s when they demand it. 

My first shifter got a running start on pushing my buttons. She refuses to take on any responsibility, but wants to do all the management tasks that make her feel like she has authority. She has been in the store longer than anyone else, so she feels like she can do whatever she wants. She is forever telling me what she thinks I should be doing and is frequently disrespectful, particularly when she has an audience. It wasn’t even 7 a.m. when I was venting in my office, via my cell phone, to my sister.

I needed to be gracious in how I dealt with her. But oh my God, why today? Couldn’t she have waited until tomorrow to be in such a spectacularly awful mood?

I spent more than an hour trying to deal with a vendor whose delivery was every kind of messed up you can imagine: wrong products, wrong quantities, wrong prices. We scanned and counted and crossed things off of lists, and still, we got nowhere. There was no combination of things that got us to the right ending.

I needed to be patient. Of all the days to demand patience, today was hardly the best choice, but there we stood, reviewing stacks of Monster energy drinks and trying to sort out $3000 worth of beverages clogging up the hallway.

As a pastor, I should have known better: the universe knows when I can’t handle one more thing, and that’s when it throws its best curve balls. 

My two favorite people to work with are Carol and Abby.* Abby works at the sandwich counter in the store, is barely nineteen, with a pixie face and her dark hair up in twin pom poms that look like Minnie Mouse ears. Last night, we were talking about tattoos, and I told her that the verse written in Hebrew on my right wrist reminds me that no matter what is happening, God’s character is constant. She told me about her tattoos, from the matching bow tattoos she shares with an aunt to the flower on her arm “just because it’s pretty.” Her grandmother, Carol, works on my side of the store. She’s in her mid-fifties, with bottle-blonde hair, pink iridescent lipstick, and a voice that tells you that she has had a wild life. She’s shamelessly herself, chatty, funny, caring, loud, and has the ability to make people feel like they are the light of her world, just by being on the other side of the counter. She’s always talking about her dream of owning a food truck, making good, reasonable food for people in an environment where she can cook, hang out, and live the life she loves. Sometimes, despite the fact that I know she doesn’t have much of an income, she will make a bunch of food and bring dinner for everyone at work just to let us know she cares. I adore her. Last night, I got to work with both Abby and Carol, and it was really great.

When Carol came in today, she looked at me and said “Honey, you look so tired, and a little depressed. Hard day? is everything OK?” I said that I was pretty tired, and that it had been a hard day, but that I was otherwise OK. She asked about how things are going with a guy that I’ve been seeing, and I filled her in on the latest. She was, as usual, glad to hear that things are going well.

“I’ve had a hard day, too,” she finally said. “You know I went to that [lung] specialist today, and that asbestos disease that they talk about on TV? Well, I don’t have that, but it’s almost the same thing. My lungs are all folded up and full of shit and there’s no treatment or anything. I’m gonna get a second opinion, but if it’s this disease, I didn’t do nothing to cause it, but then it’s like, six months and I’m gone.” She wiped under her eye. “Don’t tell nobody. I’m not saying anything until I get a second opinion, and if I talk about it, I’m gonna cry again. So don’t tell nobody, OK?”

Regardless of the work polo I was wearing, I was immediately in “pastor mode” again. I listened, and told her that I wouldn’t talk about it with anyone in the store (given the fact that none of you know her/where I work and names are changed, I figure this isn’t violating her privacy). I was stunned. She has been in and out of emergency rooms for her breathing, and her condition was generally overlooked by the staff at the income-dependent medical clinic that she went to for far too long.

She’s too young. Too nice.
She doesn’t deserve it. I mean, how many people do you know who, when given a six-month sentence, go to work a few hours later and are first concerned about how their raggedy boss is doing?

I’m glad she feels like she can tell me these things. She’s part of my little unofficial mini flock, now that I am in a different kind of ministry. I doubt she thinks of me as her pastor, but she does think of me as a friend, and that’s a privilege I don’t take lightly.

As her friend, I’m devastated, heartbroken. I am so very angry that it is happening to her.

I’m helpless. My years of pastoring taught me well that I cannot fix anything. I can guide, love, teach, pray. but I cannot fix things, and that is the cruelest reality for pastors. Every pastor I know wants to fix things, and not one of us can. I’m reminded, again, by the verse on my arm that God didn’t change from one minute to the next. God is still God, diagnosis or not. No matter how hard that is to comprehend today.

So I do what I can do: I can love. Listen. Grieve. Pray. Be a friend. And drink this tea at Starbucks while I brainstorm how to do those things better.

*Names are changed.

Fifty Cents

In middle school, we played a game.
Each spun a quarter on its edge and we watched them dance.
Spinning so fast that the looked like spheres, they whirled.
We waited.
Sometimes it fell flat and anticipation was for naught.
Sometimes they nicked each other, sending one or both away woozy and unsteady.
Collisions are what we lived for.
When the pattern and path was so altered that one came crashing down.
The one left spinning was declared the victor.

I can’t tell if I’m still spinning or down for the count.
My heart and head are spun to opposite ends of the radius.
It was an intense collision that left me bruised.
But bruises heal, and truth be told, I’d do it again.

Crash and Burn

Apparently, CJ and I were a firework: fast, intense, hot, and over too soon.

I honestly don’t know what happened. On Saturday, all was well, and he was sweet and charming, telling me that it was so good to see me after a long day at work, that I am the best person he’s ever been with, that he so enjoys spending time with me… And then today, when I asked about seeing him this weekend, he just said “we need to talk.”

And then he broke up with me.

His reason was that he likes being alone more than in a relationship. That while he does like me, and all those previous things are still true, he just wants to be alone. According to him, it’s too much for him to handle, so he’s bowing out. 

I am kinda crushed. It was a short relationship, no doubt, and one that did seem to go from zero to sixty super fast, but I can’t go from sixty to zero without feeling it.

I hate the it’s-not-you-it’s-me speech, because it never feels that way when you’re on the receiving end. What it sounds like, instead, is “you aren’t enough to change the game.”

It probably doesn’t help that it came after a long, crappy day at my new job. A job I’m grateful to have, but that I hate, and where half the people I work with seem to be either terrible employees or jerks.

Today is not a good day. Not good at all. I’m doing all I can to not just crawl into bed and cry. I’m trying to not let myself think that I’m doomed to this horrible job and perpetual loneliness for forever, but anxiety makes that hard. I’m trying to not think that this is another joke the universe is having at my expense. I’m trying not to think about how a few days ago, I was so happy about how things were finally seeming to come into place after a really long, shitty few years, only to find myself heartbroken and humiliated.

Today is stupid.

Under the Desk and Dreaming

One night, seventeen lifetimes ago, my college roommate and I found ourselves in a spectacular moment of heartache and wistfulness about former loves. We were up quite late that night, discussing all of the charming attributes we missed about our exes, and at some point, I ended up tossing and turning enough that my bed had scooted across the tile dorm floor and I was nearly under the desk. Since then, being “under the desk” was a shorthand phrase for longing, pining, dwelling on the sweetness of the guy one of us couldn’t stop thinking about.

I have been under the desk for days. Only this time, it’s not an unrequited crush or selected memories of an ex; this time, it’s CJ.

I’ve tried to play it cool and not be a huge dork about it, but I think I have given up. I’m not cool – think Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory, but with fewer pieces of wool clothing. I mean, one of the best things about this adventure is the ability to be myself in every moment, no matter how honest or risky, and have it be OK. So I am going to give myself the freedom to embrace my dorkiness and to just have fun.

In honor of Steph and the nights under the desk, here is my partial list of the things that I find endearing or charming or funny or otherwise wonderful:
~ He pays attention to and remembers what I say. He knows my niece and nephews names, which uncle I’m closest to, and my high school mascot.
~ He does sweet little things, like notices when I’m cold and gets up to bring me a blanket, or knows to bring me water instead of pop.
~ He does a pretty decent Eddie Vedder impression that never fails to make me laugh. He’s also a good singer, though I don’t think he has realized that I hear him when he sings under his breath.
~ Our level of desired affection is the same. He doesn’t complain if I want to hold his hand, but he doesn’t make me uncomfortable with an overabundance of PDA, either.
~ We have the same favorite lullaby. I got a piece of wall art from my niece and nephews for Christmas what has the phrase “You are my sunshine” on it, as well as their signatures. It’s one of my favorite things ever because it is the song I sang to them as teeny ones. When I showed CJ, he said it was his favorite because his mom sang it to him. I know it’s not an uncommon song, but I still think it’s sweet.
~ He makes seeing his family a priority. Bonus!
~ Let’s be honest: it doesn’t hurt that he’s a good kisser.
~ We don’t have to talk all the time. Sometimes, we just watch Jimmy Fallon and eat cookies. And that’s cool.
~ We seem to have a rhythm of being together that works. In true INTJ style, I can’t put my finger on why, but we fall into it.
~ It didn’t seem to phase him that my life has been turned inside out lately. Instead, he’s supportive, encouraging, and thoughtful. He’s mindful of it without dwelling on it.
~ I love the sound of his voice, the grayish edges of his irises, and the softness of the backs of his hands.
~ We spent part of our New Years morning talking about all the reasons we don’t want kids, from the silly to the significant, and never once did he look at me like I was a freak for any of the reasons I cited.
~ He just makes me smile. A lot. A lot a lot.

If you read this far, I’m impressed. I know it’s early on in the relationship, but so what? Part of the fun of relationships is the optimistic goofiness that happens at the beginning when everything is new. We aren’t the magic of movies and sitcoms, and it’s certainly not so revolutionary that it’s nothing you’ve seen/heard/experienced before. Maybe that is the magic, though: that ability to take something as mundane as cake pops and New Years Eve on TV and experience them as something altogether new and vibrant simply because of the person sitting next to you.

These little bitty moments of romance when he takes my hand while we walk or lets me have the better parking space are delightful, and I am having an incredibly fun time with it.

Super Anxiety Girl Gets a Boyfriend

In the words of my therapist, my “brain doesn’t run on jet fuel, it runs on rocket fuel,” by which he mean my brain runs hotter and faster than average. It can be a good thing, like when I catch on quickly in school, but it can also be a bad thing, particularly when my super fast brain tangos with my anxiety disorder. Anxiety is perpetually asking what could go wrong? and my hyperthinking brain comes up with answers at warp speed. This is why I sometimes refer to myself as Super Anxiety Girl: able to jump to the worst possible conclusion at any time!

Just a couple of posts ago, I wrote about how horribly online dating has been going, and the responses from my friends were either a. It has been just as awful for me, or b. It worked for me, so keep trying!  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I kept at it.

There was a profile I’d noticed a few times, but he had made the first contact. At first, the interactions seemed stunted and awkward, but I kept talking to him, and eventually, we fell into some good conversation. CJ asked me out just after publishing that post, and I said yes. A lunch date wasn’t too much commitment, I figured, and so despite all my previous online dates going terribly, I shaved my legs, consulted my bff about which skirt to wear, and carefully decided on Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Lip Stain in Vintage Rouge. My hopes were admittedly not sky high, having been let down before.

The food was so-so, but holy crap, we clicked. What was supposed to be lunch turned into 3.5 hours and only ended because I had to go pick up my mother. We giggled. Our knees kinda sorta touched under the table. He sweetly asked permission to kiss me before he did, and the kiss wasn’t bad at all. I smiled the whole way home. I hadn’t been gone from the restaurant for 20 minutes when he texted and asked if I wanted to hang out that evening. I said yes, and when he texted me his address, it turned out he lives four blocks from me. We ended up watching Harry Potter and Comedy Central and talking until 3:40 AM.

The next few days, we texted, hung out after he got off of work, and it is weird how well we both seemed to fit together. He’s 35, has a reliable job, owns his home, has a stable, normal family who lives in town, is kind, funny, sweet, a good kisser, and doesn’t seem to mind holding my hand. We kind of fell into each other and I wish I could explain it better than saying “we just make sense,” but that’s honestly how I feel. Somewhere along the way,very early on, we decided we weren’t going to see anyone else, and a bit after that, we decided that it suited us to use the boyfriend/girlfriend labels.

In a few weeks, I went from hardly talking to him to feeling like I’ve known him for forever. One night last week, I had to drive from northern Illinois to Detroit and back in one marathon drive. Twelve hours on the road, not counting the hour and a half I spent stopping for gas and delivering the packages to the Chrysler plant. I was happy when he called me after he got off work, but I never imagined he would stay up literally all night to talk to me while I was on the road. At times, we didn’t even talk, we just were there, silent, miles apart, but still together.

All these things are wonderful, right? Right.

Except that this relationship is different than all of my previous relationships. It’s less complicated, more intense, faster, deeper, scarier than any other relationship I’ve had. And that’s where Super Anxiety Girl swoops in.

image

Cindy and CJ in Chicago, 2014

On Monday, CJ and I spent the day in Chicago, my favorite place at my favorite time of year. He traipsed around Macy’s, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile with me, in the rain, no less! When we got back to his place that evening, we talked and watched TV, and in the midst of the conversation, we ended up in a weird place. I’ve fallen a bit farther than he has. Not that he hasn’t fallen for me at all, but he’s more cautious. I told him that I didn’t expect us to be in exactly the same place, and that’s the truth. I told him we can slow down and take things easier. It had seemed so easy for both of us to fall into the relationship, but we responded a bit differently.

I left his place and almost cried while I drove home. The next day, I barely heard from him. The day after that, Christmas Eve, I didn’t know what to think. Were we over? Had it ended that quickly? What had I done to screw it up? Was he lying when he said that he liked being with me/that it was unexpectedly “right” with me/that I was beautiful, smart, and vibrant? Did I misread every kiss/every hour of handholding/every “thinking of you” text he sent me? Was I too much of myself too quickly, and that turned him off? When he talked about going to a Bulls game or a theater show sometime, was he just blowing hot air? But more than anything: What is so very wrong with me that makes me so undatable and undesirable? A million questions a minute, each worse than the preceding question, and it didn’t stop for nearly two days.

Looking back on that conversation now, I see that it wasn’t as catastrophic as I felt it was at the time. Truthfully, it was going too fast for both of us. Slowing down is a good thing. But slowing down doesn’t mean ending. Being in slightly different places doesn’t mean not being together. I have come down from the proverbial ledge on that one, but it was a tough few days of questions without talking much to him. However, we’ve texted since then, and we’re good.

We were originally going to see each other Christmas night, but he rescheduled for tonight. Then, tonight’s date was rescheduled for tomorrow because he works at the airport and there are flight delays. It has been an epic feat of cognitive behavioral skills to keep myself from over thinking the reschedules. I know that flights are delayed, and that means he has to stay. It’s not that he doesn’t want to see me.

It has all happened really quickly, and it has been really intense. It scares me. It’s nothing like my previous relationships, yet I’m terrified that history will repeat itself. In the past, whenever I hit a rough moment in a relationship, the guy bailed. I wasn’t ready for someone who would stick around through it. As smart as I am when it comes to many things, relationships are where I feel like I hardly know my head from an acorn squash. The cues that everyone else seems to pick up on fly right over my head, and all my intuition is useless.

Dating CJ has been so much fun, and endlessly exciting, even if it’s hell on my nerves. I’m honestly glad he said something about needing it to slow down because I didn’t realize then that I needed the same thing. I hope that this lasts for a while, because I really like him. It is completely new territory for me, but oh sweet mercy, I hope it works.

Mismatched Sets

This was a stressful week in a lot of ways: the end of a relationship and the eventual reconciliation that followed, the weird first date that just didn’t work, some dear friends facing big struggles that I can’t fix, work stress, my dog being kinda sick… just a lot going on.

Today was a regional event and I wasn’t all that thrilled to have a 13-hour day, but I was pretty glad when I got there and saw two of my friends, John and Shane. I’ve known John off and on since high school, and Shane’s years in seminary overlapped mine. Their wives, also friends of mine, were home with the kids. I’d talked to John’s wife earlier this morning.

Sometimes it seems like I’ve got more married male friends than I “should.” I’m old enough now that it seems like most of the men my age are married or/and gay. I know all of their wives and I’m friends with many of them as well. Like with all friendships, the relationship with each person is different. Some, like my friends Paul and Cameron, have a bit of a big-brother feel to them – we laugh and joke and sometimes, they’re able to encourage me or give guidance. BobbyJeff is one who listens well and seems to know when to advise and when to send me a distracting YouTube video of Perry the Platypus. With Shane, there’s a kind of we’re-in-this-together candidness that is honest and unassuming. With John, I appreciate his relaxed conversation and a familiar smile that takes over his whole face. There are more, but you get the point.

They are part of the village that raising this person. Most of their wives are, too. It just happens to be that today, it was John and Shane and not Jennifer and Jeanette. In an overstimulating environment after a long week and little sleep, I wanted to be with my friends.

When the speaker said to get into groups of three, we looked at each other and were about to label ourselves a group when the speaker continued to say that he wanted women with women and men with men. I was let down. I didn’t really want to hang with anyone else. And it wasn’t that the questions were at all gender-specific, either. Totally neutral questions like “what is the mission of your church?” We weren’t sent into solitary rooms; there were maybe 70 people in the room. It wasn’t necessary to split us by gender. The women I ended up grouped with were fine, but I was just a little more tense than I would have been had I not had to change.

Splitting up by gender/sex is something that usually doesn’t happen all that often outside of churches. There are loosely logical reasons for doing it in a few cases, but I think it does more harm than good. It inhibits people from having to develop healthy behaviors and attitudes towards whole sections of the population. It limits relationships and breeds suspicion and distrust. It limits compassion and empathy, two incredibly vital characteristics of ministry. It hems in the knowledge we have access to and cuts out stories that help one another grow.

I’m not advocating reckless behavior. I’m not saying that boundaries shouldn’t ever exist. I just think that the church should reconsider how far-reaching those boundaries need to go. Have we taken it so far that it’s hurting our ministry?

My denomination is officially theologically egalitarian (the execution of this idea is uneven, but better than many churches). I’m very grateful that it’s founders were both male and female, and that my reproductive organs don’t inhibit my ability to teach and preach. I just wish that they didn’t get in the way of the little things that mean a lot. I wish it didn’t mean that others assume that I would be better off in conversation with other women. Just once, I want someone to consider that I don’t want to talk about my emotions and want to talk football instead.

Today, I really wish that I’d gotten to spend more time with my friends.

I really wish the church trusted us more.

Humble Pie

In the immortal words of Bobby Singer: “Balls.”

Last week, I was a bit broken hearted because, ultimately, I wasn’t on the same page as someone else with whom I had a relationship. In my hurt and anger, I said some harsh words that I can’t take back. Specifically, I called him a dumbass.

Today, I realized, again, that sometimes I’m an idiot. I wasn’t wrong to be hurt or to grieve for a potentially lost friendship (no idea if we’re still friends), but I was wrong to be so angry at him, to hold onto that anger, and to call him a dumbass. Because he’s not. I wouldn’t have liked him in the first place if he was.

Please forgive me for setting such a bad example.

What made me realize how wrong I was is the date I had today. The guy was nice. We were able to talk for hours. We spent a lot of time together today. It was nice to have someone call me beautiful and open doors for me. And by the time I got home, I was certain that I am not on the same page as he is. Nowhere close.  He wants to jump right into Super Commitment Land, and I’m not ready for that. So I am going to have to give the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech and I know that he’s going to be less than thrilled… basically, this time, I’m the dumbass.

I sent an apology to the guy-wrongly-called-a-dumbass. I can’t tell you how badly I feel for having been angry and called him that. I’m terrified that he won’t forgive me.

I’m afraid that it sent people the wrong message about who I am and the kind of person/minister I want to be.

Balls.

UPDATE: It shouldn’t surprise me that he didn’t hesitate to forgive me and our friendship isn’t over. I am incredibly grateful for it. My heart hasn’t felt this good in a long time.

Double Dumbass

Yesterday, I wrote about Stupid Face and how I was waiting to hear back from him. ((If you haven’t read it, you’ll probably need to for context for this one.))

This morning, I woke up to a message from him (finally) in which he told me, in a nutshell, that he’s perfectly happy with his work and kids and has no interest in me. Well, happy Friday to you too!

He admitted that he knew his response didn’t address everything that I’d written in my initial message, but he didn’t want to make me wait any longer than the four days I’d already waited. He was honest and I appreciate that, but here’s where I’m disappointed and a little angry: in my message, I said that I needed to know that I meant something more to him than a female body (OK, I may have used slightly more blunt phrases), that my anxiety about that was due to some insecurities that I am trying to get over, and what he CHOSE to do is send me a long explanation of why he doesn’t want or need me for anything. It wasn’t outright meanness, but I know thinly veiled diplomacy when I see it. No attempt at all to say that he had valued me, and that stung.

I’d asked BobbyJeff what the next level was after “stupid,” suggesting maybe “dumbass.” He agreed, then offered that the level after that was “double dumbass.”

Dear readers, Double Dumbass it is!

Only, this time, it’s a shared title. I’m a dumbass for thinking that this time it was different, for putting up with things that bothered me for too long, and, once again, for falling for exactly the kind of guy who who is my own personal bug zapper, drawing me in and then by the time I know it’s a bad idea, I’m a goner.

He’s the bigger dumbass, though. He had a good thing and didn’t know it. I’m not perfect, and I’ll never be on the cover of a magazine, but I’m not exactly a troll either. I’m a far better person than I give myself credit for most days. It’s his loss.

I spent the morning crying more than I should, took a nap to get rid of the crying-induced headache, then ate some cappuccino gelato and pizza while watching Clueless and Varsity Blues.

All day long, my tribe of friends checked in on me. They listened, were outraged and hurt for me, mourned with me, and prayed for me. BobbyJeff had posted a status in the Facebook group we moderate asking for prayers for half of the admin team because two of the four of us were having super bad days. Without knowing which admins to pray for or what the circumstances are, people from Iowa to Australia and back were praying for me. Good grief, do I love my tribe.

Let me say, finally, that today was also a reminder of how big God’s grace is. This morning, when I was hurting, I called God an awfully nasty name and said that we probably weren’t going to be on very good speaking terms for a while. The only response I felt was “OK.” Then my tribe prayed. Without knowing it was partially for me, without knowing what my need was. They prayed. And since they were on better speaking terms, God listened. And God answered. I don’t think that the peace that settled in tonight was because God had forgotten what I said this morning. I think it’s because God honors the prayers of those who do pray with sincerity and hope, and it was because of them that the peace I have is going to let me sleep tonight, sped up the getting-over-him process, and restores the rational thought that life goes on and love isn’t through with me yet.

Stupid Face and the Trouble with History

I was thirteen when I kissed my first straight boy (first kiss ever honor goes to Brandon, and I wouldn’t have it any other way). I hadn’t been prepared for any kind of romantic encounter that day, and certainly never thought it would happen with one of the most popular, most pursued guys I knew. But it happened, right there in the fellowship room at church. The kiss was over as soon as it began, but it started something bigger. For the next three years, I found myself wrapped up in an unhealthy, secret relationship with him. I spent years feeling like if I was just thinner, prettier, or cooler, he wouldn’t be ashamed of me and I wouldn’t be his little secret. It ended somewhat unceremoniously, and for the thirteen years that followed, I was lucky enough to rarely see him.

On February 29, 2012, I was in my office at church when he called me. He wanted to apologize, explained that he had regretted how things happened between us, and that he had, in fact, liked me, not just my boobs. I apologized as well, because I knew what we weren’t supposed to be doing and I did it anyways. That conversation, and a few that followed, amounted to the biggest lesson in forgiveness that I’ve ever had. But this post isn’t really about forgiveness.

The other thing that long-overdue conversation did was start to heal some of the very old, very deep wounds about who I thought I was and what I have to offer. It didn’t undo years of anxiety and doubt, but it was a step in the right direction.

About a year ago, I reconnected with an old acquaintance, and we seemed to have decent chemistry, but sweet merciful mother of pearl, the timing was bad. Has been bad. But it didn’t stop us from getting together a few times and texting, more often having to cancel plans than keep them.

I hadn’t planned on it. It just sort of happened. I hadn’t been interested years ago when we had first known each other. He hadn’t noticed that I existed at all. But he makes me laugh and I can be myself with him, which is unusual. We don’t live near one another, and at one point, I’d tweeted that I just wanted “to see his stupid face,” not identifying him. Over the course of a couple exchanges, “stupid face” became code for him, not because he’s anywhere near stupid (he’s really quite smart), but because there have been moments of frustration related to the distance between us.

In the beginning, I was OK with casual. It fit where we both were in life. There are a lot of reasons why casual is what was best for both of us. If I’m honest, there was a little part of me that figured I didn’t have much else to hope for, so if casual was it, that was OK. A lot of those old insecurities were still there. History can become the present if it hasn’t been totally laid to rest.

In the last year, I’ve been getting a lot more comfortable with who I am. Becoming more confident. Figuring out what I want.

Well, a while ago, I figured out that I want more than casual. I’m not looking for a big, immediate commitment, but I figured out that it’s OK for me to want more. For years, I had settled for believing that all I had to offer in a relationship was asexual friendship or boobs (but the boobs guys never seemed to want me as a person). I’m not that person anymore.

I’m smart, funny, loyal, and a fantastic cook. I have something to offer. It sounds pathetic to admit that it took so long for me to realize this, but better late than never, right?

So here I am, with something to offer, wanting more than what I have at the moment, specifically with dear ol’ stupid face. In a moment of blind, anxious bravery, I spelled it all out and hit “send.”

That was Monday.

All I’ve heard is that he’ll get back to me because he’s at a conference.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been ridiculously anxious. I’ve rehearsed just about every possible way he could break my heart. I’ve barely slept and over-eaten and cut my own hair (OK, trimmed my bangs, but still). I can’t seem to focus on anything but the uncertainty of his response. I’ve tried to keep a little bit of hope going, but anxiety is loud, my friends. My closest friends have been really great about listening, like always.

Tomorrow, he’s done with his conference. I don’t know when I’ll hear from him. I don’t know what he’ll say. If it’s not what I want to hear, I’m pretty sure he’ll at least be kind about it. I hope things go my way. I hope I get to see his stupid face because I really like his stupid face.