Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Rules: Six through Ten

Is anybody else bothered by the word "date?" This has been on my mind since I started writing this set of blogs.  Did I date before I got married? It was more like we all just hung out together or worked together and then eventually we paired off. My now ex-husband took me on dates when we first started going out but before that, I doubt it was that formal. The guy would invite you to a party or the bar, you met up with all his friends (or your friends), he drove you home and you made out in the driveway for a while before going back in your parent's house. Is that dating? It may just be that my fears of dating are derived from the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing because I have never done it before.

So this is part III, of the Man Diet discussion and a look at Rules 6 to 10. Parts One and Two (rules 1 to 5) can be found at the links.

Rule 6 – Take a Break from the Games

You know the game, right?  Don't call for 3 days, take at least 30 minutes to answer a text, and longer for an email. I really don't know how to do this. If you write me an email and I get it, I'll answer it. Probably on the same day. Likely within the hour, assuming the day is going that way. If you text me, I'll answer as soon as I get it unless I'm driving my car, I'm in class, I'm on my bike, or my phone is off for some reason. To me, it seems like too much wasted energy to have to think about when I can safely answer without looking too eager. Don't you want me to be eager? Aren't you excited that I am willing to take the time to reply in an expedited manner?  Or is that a chick thing?

And the fact that we know people play these games on purpose is what, ironically enough, contributes to women thinking you still are interested in them when you really aren't. He's just not calling because he's waiting the required amount of time. He's playing the game. I'll just call him instead.  

I'm too old for games. I hope you are too.

Rule 7 – Do Not Pursue

The sad thing is, contrary to what I just said above. Playing hard to get, which is also a game, actually works.  It goes back to what I said in the first instalment: "You always want that which you cannot have and that which is unavailable is always most attractive."   Ever since my trauma in University in Philosophy class, I haven't been able to be the pursuer. And I have to confess, if I'm playing hard to get, I'm not doing it on purpose. It really is just because I haven't noticed you yet. It probably explains why, when you ask couples how they met their significant other, women in particular, usually say, "Finding a relationship was the furthest thing from my mind."  And if I look back on my relationship history, I would say the same thing. Virtually all the men I've had serious relationships with across my life from 14 to 40 I was not thinking about meeting someone when I did and I certainly was not the pursuer. It doesn't mean we were meant to live happily ever after but it was still a fun start.

And as much as most men support women taking on "non traditional" roles in other areas of their lives, they aren't quite ready to relinquish the fun of the pursuit of that which is evasive. The author of the book did research for a previous book where she interviewed dozens of men about how they felt about women making the first move. Most men were OK with it, 60% in fact if I recall correctly, so she tested the theory and started asking men out and keeping tabs. She found that the number of acceptances she got was nowhere near 60%.  So while men might be in favour of women being the pursuers in theory, in practice their behaviours don't match. This, my evolutionary psychologist friend would tell me, is the conflict between being socially acceptable in your opinions and the evolutionary unconscious drive of reality.

I’ve noticed this too, even in the online environment where I made the first attempt at contact about 4 times in nine months, only one guy has answered (25% response rate with a pretty low sample size) and the conversation petered out pretty quickly despite an overwhelming number of things in common.

And I’m not a supermodel but I'm a reasonably attractive woman. I’m athletic and a reasonable weight and I take care of myself. But it just ain’t that fun for men if there is no hunt. And to be perfectly honest. I enjoy being hunted.  So while I flirt shamelessly and often indiscriminately with men I'm comfortable with, I don’t make first moves. At least not early on.

Rule 8 – Take a Break from Internet Dating

Yes, this is now a no-brainer.  In addition to what I’ve written recently on the subject, and the book, coincidentally, uses the same words I used to describe the experience (catalogue, disposable), the book also makes one other additional good point. Too many choices are confusing. And when one woman doesn't work out, sometimes for the most benign of reasons or flaws or imperfections or deviation from the cookie cutter vision he has in mind, he shuffles on to the next one because the next time he opens up his email, there are 6 more women to look at.

I'm not sure if the book actually made this point or if I simply inferred it from the chapter. Isn't online dating like the definition of desperation and pursuit, for women? I can't speak for men. But it seems to me that if you make yourself that available, the man is guaranteed to not be that interested in the real you because you've already thrown yourself at him with your online plea and sales pitch. I'd like to be wrong about that but my experiences have shown otherwise. And I'd love to hear about men's experiences with online dating because they probably get some horrible stuff going on from their end too.

But as I wrote in that other entry, I’m out of the online environment as soon as my membership expires. It is a waste of my time and my money. I want to meet someone and be friends first because I intend for my next relationship to be with someone I consider my best friend.  

Rule 9 – Dwell on Your Sense of Self

The chapter tells many stories of how failure with men can overshadow your personal success in other areas of your life. As women we have been conditioned to believe that we are somehow lesser human beings without a man. Our friends and family don’t help matters by constantly prying into our dating lives, “So, anyone nice out there for you yet?” Sigh…  “In a relationship, everything is rosier, right?” – I was married once, I can tell you this is a myth. The number of friends and acquaintances that have spilled their marital woes to me since my own marital woes became known, tells me that relationship unhappiness is a plague.  You can still have, “warmth, validation, and ecstasy,” while single.  We are looking for a fairy-tale. Commercialism, dating sites, and jewellers prey on this desire for a fantasy to come true in advertisements.  Similar to how advertisements make us feel bad about our weight and appearance so that we’ll spend money, they make us feel bad about being single and lacking romance so we’ll spend money.

And if you are busy doing lofty things, you should feel good about yourself, because you are more likely to find someone you love by doing the things you love to do. 

Rule 10 – Know Your Obstacles

I admit, this is the category where I score a grade of F. I can’t tell when a guy is ready for a relationship or is suffering from that quiet vulnerability of one who is still seething from some past ex and needs some attention. They all look the same to me. Overly attentive in the beginning, a dream come true, and then as soon as you begin to have real feelings, they begin to slip away. Or maybe they don't look the same and I'm just good at ignoring the signs when I'm getting that, "Too good to be true," feeling. The book describes the men to avoid: Married and willing to cheat, Charming with no intention, Keeping the options open men (which basically means, "you'll do" to fill the void right now but you're gone when someone "better" comes along), Good looking and boring, Douchbags, Asexuals, Those with Ex issues, The networker, the evasive mystery man, and worst of all, all your past ex's.  I've experienced them all in one way or another, except for the ex. I can honestly say I've never "gone back" to someone I've dated in the past.

But really, in relationships there are only two obstacles. You and him. You can't settle for someone because you should like him because he's nice and treats you well but there's no spark, or because your friends like him. The only person who has to be excited about him is you. And he has to be meeting your needs. If he's charming as anything in your presence and ignores you in-between, or he says one thing, and does another or doesn't follow through, he isn't worth your energy and you are not his priority. And I'm really bad at that. I'm really bad at getting a soft spot for guys who are broken, and healing, and lost. I could write an entire post about my naivety. Maybe one day I will.

The Rules: One to Five

My last post, The WSM Fallacy,  talked about dating issues and how certain aspects of dating the second time around were beginning to get me down. Very down. And not just down, but downright anxious about putting myself out there and being judged, and discouraged enough to want to throw in the towel on many occasions. So I picked up a book called The Man Diet that promised to show me how to stop feeling bad about my experiences with men and to quit making men, or the lack there of, the central focus of my self-esteem. The book gave 10 rules for avoiding specific circumstances that contribute to eating away at women's sense of self in relationships.  It does not in any way help you find "the one"; the purpose of the book is to help you find yourself. 

I said in my last post that after reading this book, I decided that I wasn't doing half bad. So this time, I will talk about rules 1 to 5 and how I handle them.  So Let's get on with the rules and how to go on a Man Diet. (Who makes up these book titles anyway?)

Rule 1 – Refuse to Have No Strings Attached Sex

Alright, nothing like starting out big (no pun intended) by putting the potentially most awkward and personal rule on the table first. No Strings Attached Sex. Call it what you will, this means no fuck buddies, no friends with benefits, and no sex for fun without commitment. No sexting and no flirtatious chats with substandard male candidates that you know will never be life partners. Why? Because as fun as it is in the moment, it makes many women feel like shit in the days after.

You can plan for it, you can agree to it verbally with your "victim," and no matter what happens, as soon as the clothes come off, sex changes everything. That person, will become forever ingrained in your memory in some way (good or bad). And if you are prone to agreeing to have casual sex in the hopes that it will become more -- no strings sex is a bad idea for some women.

It all goes awry something like this: You begin daydreaming about the potential and wish he would call or email. He may have politely asked for your email or cell number on the way out the door, or you leave it for him on the bedside table. And that call never comes. And it sucks a little bit of your soul, because by asking for your number, or by leaving your number, you just got permission to start expecting something more. Bottom line: Don't have casual sex if you can't leave it in the moment for what it was. You asked for it, you wanted it (you were lying to yourself) and you agreed to it.  Not to mention the fact that, for women, no strings sex is often pretty lousy sex. Why the hell would you want to have lousy sex that makes you feel worse afterward? You are an emotionless, cold (Ok warm), orifice to some guy's penis. That's it. 

Do I sound like I am speaking from experience? I read a book remember. I can glean all kinds of experiences from reading books. I've never been to Africa either but I could write about that too if I read something about it. Be careful about assumptions. The book had some pretty vivid descriptions of the emptiness some women felt in the midst of No Strings Sex. 

I have to be honest here though. In my first draft of this section I initially wrote, "I’ve never had No Strings Attached Sex? Honest to God. Never."  I've had a couple days to reflect and I've decided that is a bit of a white lie. What I have never done is go to a bar or a lounge or a pub and pick up some good looking stranger and take him home with me. There is my holier than thou moment amongst the rules. I discovered early in my youth that you can't have some pseudo-sexual experience with some guy you just met and expect it to turn into a relationship. So if I was actually looking for a relationship, and I always am,  I would stay as far away from shallow encounters as I possibly could. 

It isn’t like I haven’t thought about it. A lot. Sheesh, I should be out there having the time of my life, sewing my wild oats. I just can’t seem to do it. Maybe I'm just too old for that kind of behaviour now.  And when I've tried, the inexplicable has happened. I've managed to find some nice guy who also only wants relationships and he's continued to hang out with me, sometimes without me being especially enthusiastic, in the weeks or months after. Go figure. There are exceptions to the stereotype. 

Once when I was in my early to mid 20s I got pulled into some bar radio contest. I don't know how it happened, but what I do remember is that I was cold sober. I remember this because one of the prizes I won was a drink and I had to go trade it for something else because I was driving. But the contest involved licking whip cream off some guy's bare chest as fast as I could. He was a great, totally attractive guy, as I recall, but I hated the whole experience. I have no desire to do something that intimate with someone I know nothing about, I've never had a conversation with, and I haven't developed a deep respect for. It has never been purely someone's looks driving my physical attraction toward him. 

As a final note: as much as the sexual revolution of the 60s did for women in terms of bringing awareness to female sexuality, desires, and the acceptability of premarital sex, a guy who sleeps with many women is still described as experienced and a total stud. A girl who sleeps around is still a slut

Rule 2 – Cut Down on the Booze

I like a good drink, but I could stand to cut down on the booze. Mostly because I am old and I can't handle the extra calories the way I used to. Nor can I handle the hangover. I sleep lousy if I've even had a couple of drinks, I feel miserable the next day, and the combination of poor sleep and a hangover (which appears with less and less alcohol these days) is when I've had some of my most negative thinking about my love life (or lack there of). There is nothing like a good bout of binge drinking to make you ruminate negatively about how things are going in your life and Gawddammit, I deserve better. Why does this always happen to me? And geeze, Universe, stop dangling carrots in front of my nose and then yanking them away. 

The book calls alcohol a problem because it is likely to contribute to unplanned sex, Facebook stalking, and negative ruminating. Not to mention it is tough on the bank account. Alcohol is the best, non-pharmacological anxiety killer in the market. And that is my biggest problem area. I've poured myself a beer, a glass of wine, or a gin and tonic while waiting for a date to pick me up, while waiting for a phone call or email, after a hard day at work, or during those moments when the kids are getting to me just a liiittle biiiit. And there is nothing like a cold beer on a hot day as the best recovery drink in the universe. I seem to have more friends than I ever had in my entire life and there is always alcohol around when socializing. Always. 

But in the name of losing the muffin top over the lip of my jeans, and on some days, my sense of self-worth, the booze must go. Or at least, I will cut back... yes, yes, I will. 

Rule 3 – No Facebook Stalking

All my Facebook friends are laughing right now.  Am I one of those famous people on Facebook?  Everyone knows every nuance of my life? Believe me I'm far less revealing on Facebook than it might appear. Usually I  just try and be witty and insightful and see what kind of response I'll get. There is lots of shit I don't reveal. Just ask my friends - I mean, the friends I see on a regular basis and actually talk to, in person and on the phone, and share my real life with.

My workplace doesn't block Facebook so I am on there virtually all day. Or at least the link is open. I'm not always sitting there monitoring everything that goes on. Do I check it a lot? Yep. But I have this little network on there. There is almost always someone talking to me about something and my phone is buzzing or I'm bored and I'm rotating through links and tabs while waiting in line or waiting for kids to come out of school. But 75% of my newsfeed on Facebook isn't people, it is cycling links. If I'm stalking anyone, it is pro cycling teams.

And I'm on it a whole hell of a lot less when I'm in a relationship. 

What I don't do on there is stalk my ex's -- much. Yes I have a few ex's that are Facebook friends. Occasionally they show up in my newsfeed.  There is a fortunate interesting trend amongst my ex's: They all have pretty low Facebook traffic so even if I was to be checking their profile activity repeatedly, there wouldn't be much to look at. Nor do I spy or much care about their current relationships.  And I've never asked a friend to spy on someone for me or hack into their boyfriend's Facebook account to spy on someone for me. No thanks. I don't need to know.  

OK, I will admit, that if I meet someone new and we become "friends" as part of the progression, I'll peek. Come on, everybody does it. Facebook, encourages it. That's how they hook you in. 

These are all scenarios that the book warns against.  The act of continuous monitoring of ex's and former dates, and potentials and partners can screw with your head. Seeing one tiny hint that someone who rejected you in the past is with someone else can be torture to watch and make it more difficult to let him go. And really, what you see on Facebook isn't real. It isn't a real person, it is simply a persona a person has created of themselves. No sense in beating yourself up over some read-between-the-lines statement that someone has made on someone's Facebook status. And if the guy is dating someone else instead of you, that isn't likely to change. 

Rule 4 – No Talking about Men

I have way too many friends and for a while I did way too much talking. The book suggests that constantly talking about your dramatic man stories and escapades can actually be emotionally draining rather than helpful and could contribute to you seeking situations that give you more dramatic man stories to tell. I suppose this is the female version of locker room talk.  The other problem with talking to your friends is that they are not likely to tell you when you are being an idiot. They are more likely to support and validate your opinion. And, trust me, you are not always making the best decisions all of the time and sometimes you shouldn't be validated but rather be given a good slap upside the head.

(By the way, if you think you need a friend to give you a good slap upside the head. I'm the one to talk to. I won't validate you, if you are being a dork.)

It was one situation and one situation only that got me to talk a few years back and it seemed at the time that I didn't have to do a thing to find myself retelling stories of conversations with this person that were, in a word, appalling. I wasn't creating situations to have stories to tell, they just seemed to land at my feet. I've mellowed a bit in the last couple of years. I have some friends I talk to about some things and other friends who hear different aspects of my life. In the end, it was never about the drama or the entertainment value or the plot that held my friends captivated. It was about their concern for me. 

Rule 5 – Do Something Lofty

Apparently, "lofty" does not mean riding your bike for 234 km in one day. That is, unless it involves a charity. Then it becomes lofty. Or maybe it means crazy. Take your pick.

I can find projects. I have more projects than I can possibly complete. I have books to write and training to do and research projects to plan. And kids to raise. There is no more loftier a project than children.

The first time I got dumped in an official break-up kind of way, I was 18. Prior to that boys just started ignoring me and hoped I wouldn't notice (That hurts more than anything, and as I've found out in the past 4 years there are still some 40+ year olds who think this is an effective dumping strategy as well).  But this dumping happened right as I started university and I did what any overachiever might do, I threw myself into my homework and got straight A's instead (except for that Philosophy course, remember. You know the one where I slipped my phone number to the guy before the final exam. Oh and Film Studies which got killed by going out and drinking every Sunday night and sleeping through Monday afternoon movie day). 

You know the phrase "go with the flow?" The word flow has scientific connections. It involves finding that zone where you are completely immersed in what you are doing with no other thought in your head. I equate flow with doing anything that makes me forget to check for messages on Facebook.  Sorta, kinda like now, when I am writing this. Except I don't think writing about relationships counts toward stopping your thoughts about them [ahem...  that's irony.]

Whatever works.

Coming up: Rules 6-10.... They just get better and better folks. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The WSM Fallacy

If Miss Havisham, after being jilted at the alter, lived the rest of her
life in her wedding dress, do you think she ever had a bath?

While I was writing my post on my disillusionment with internet dating I originally included a story about how when I was in university I used to sit and read the personal ads in the student-run newspaper The Manitoban. These ads were placed by students to students searching for that elusive cute stranger s/he saw in a class or at the gym or walking from building to building or tunnel to tunnel. They were something I looked forward to in every issue.

Blonde gorgeous saw you running in the Grotto and you looked great in those tight shorts. I’m the guy in the Air Jordon’s and the Gold Gym muscle shirt. Maybe we can run away together.

Yes they would include bad grammar and poor punctuation. It was the precursor to Twitter.

I cut that story from that post, for space, because lordy-knows, I’m wordy enough and it wasn’t needed there, but my point had been I always hoped I would recognize myself in those ads.  I always fantasized about sending one myself too.

Neither ever happened – although someone did leave me a note on my car once, with two dimes to hold it in the crease of my driver’s side window, and it said, “20 cents for your thoughts.”  I never did find out who left it there, but likely it wasn’t who, at the time, I hoped it was.

[And, if I may interject an aside, sheesh, if that person wanted to know my thoughts, all they had to do was ask. My thoughts are rarely something I will hold back.] 

Now, 20-plus years and (theoretically) much greater wisdom later, I wonder how many of those personal ads were actually real?  Or were they written by the ‘Toban staff, or by friends who did it to each other as a joke? Did people really have the courage to submit these things in the raw? Remember this was 1989-92 (I was perpetually single back then too jumping from one 5-week relationship to another). It couldn’t be done anonymously, via a fake email address. You used snail mail or you walked it in to the Manitoban office and delivered it by hand.  And I can just imagine the smirks and giggles by the office staff who would smile politely when you handed them the ad, and say things like, Isn’t that sweet, while sucking back the guffaws until you walked out the door.  

And if they were real, how many of them were answered? Because there is no worse rejection, than silent rejection.

Probably my most embarrassing thing I ever did in the name of meeting that cute stranger was to hand him my phone number on a folded piece of paper and hope for the best. He was a guy in a philosophy class I was taking. I was probably about 20 years old at the time and I thought he was amazingly cute and I wasn’t extroverted enough at the time to worm my way into his circles and meet him personally (which, of course, seems like the simple and obvious solution and is what I could easily do now -- except, now, the guy would turn out to be married). No, I had to humiliate myself by first going up to his friend a week or two before and asking what the guy's name was. I waited to make my big move prior to the last class – the same day we wrote our last test.

I’m smart, but, dear readers, you have no idea the potential depths of my stupidity when it comes to the opposite sex.

I don’t remember what I said to him but I do remember the giggling that went on behind me, after I gave him that piece of paper, that I imagined was coming from the girls that sat with him in class.  I remember siting in my desk, second row from the front, too terrified to turn around to check for sure, trying to make myself as small as possible.  I’ve never written a test so fast in my life. I was going to be long gone before he got out of that test room.  

I got 69% (and I swear I’m not making that number up) on a test I should have got 96% on. And, of course, the guy never called.

I read a book recently, and I'm going to tell you about that book shortly so bear with me, that suggested that women aren’t socialized to handle dating rejection the way men are.  Yes, I think this is true. We are taught to look our best and walk sexy and make ourselves noticed but never look them in the eye and let them make the first moves, the first calls, the first advances. Who teaches us this stuff? Cartoons, TV shows, from Bug’s Bunny to Cheers, and all the commercials that run in between. And then when we are rejected, the first place our mind goes is to what we did wrong. Are we not attractive enough? Did we say something stupid?

This factoid about women's place in the dating world works nicely with another piece of dating lore I heard a while back (on the radio or somewhere else, so I can't cite it, sorry): The men who are the most successful with women are not necessarily the best looking ones. They are simply the men who are the most willing to make approaches repeatedly.  I believe this is also true.

The problem of course being that the women who are preening and trying to draw men to them are most likely looking for love, while the men who are approaching are most likely looking for sex. Gawddamn these gender differences. 

If you read enough dating lore, such as the above, you’ll wonder how men and women ever come together, get married, make babies and keep the species going. The contradictions will rot your brain. Are we always at odds with each other looking for opposite things? My friend who teaches evolutionary psychology always tells me that women control relationships because we control the sex (when and how often) and the birth control which means we also control when procreation takes place. And without procreation, men can’t spread their gene pool to the next generation, which according to evolutionary theory, is what men are wired to do.

But I argue that it is men who control the emotional beginnings of relationships. Because baby, in my experience, the words love and commitment ain’t coming into the story until the man says it does. 

Now, now, I know there are men, possibly reading this, who can tell their own stories of having intense feelings for a woman who proceeded to trounce all over their hearts and spit them out. I know this because I often was the lucky soul who dated these men in the aftermath of this bloodbath and was left scraping them off the carpet while they sucked the blood life out of me and back into themselves. 

But this happens because of two other valuable pieces of dating lore which have not magically disappeared in my 14 years away from the game and the supposed advanced maturity of the now older men I am dating: You always want that which you cannot have and that which is unavailable is always most attractive. And it is not just the men guilty of these unconscious desires. I've been guilty too. 

Which means I’ve spent a life time with the wrong men. And given my propensity to overanalyze everything, this gets me very very down. Down enough that I’ve wondered what the point is to trying to be in a relationship at all?

When my last serious relationship ended without warning, I vowed no men for a very long time. That was just a little over a year and a half ago now. Have I kept to this? Mostly. I’ve had a few dates which have ranged from confusing to creepy. One of those dates that fell closer to the confusing end than the creepy end of the continuum wore me down so much I went back on, what one author referred to as a “manbbaticle”.  And then when I least expected it and wasn’t looking for it, I met someone great. But that relationship was fraught with distance, bad timing, and overreaching complications so as a relationship it ended, as a friendship it will continue.

But it left me once again with the unanswerable question of what is wrong with me? What is wrong with what I am attracted to? And more importantly, what is wrong with what I am willing to put up with?

So what did I do? I succumbed to junk food literature and read a book because someone out there has to have it all figured out.  I couldn’t help myself really, it was an act of desperation.

Actually, I'd been searching for a while to find a non-fiction book on relationship anxiety. I would have preferred something creative non-fiction or memoir, but this book was the closest I'd found. And it wasn't heavy on the fallacy of preying on my insecurities to get me to dish out my money so I can find out what I'm doing wrong. 

Women have been thrust into this world of dating stuck with mass confusion resulting from the incompatible forces of sexual liberation combined with desire to find a life-long mate. Throw in the added social factor that we are still expected, by most men, to be the passive one in the relationship hunt and we might be better off closing up our curtains, and wasting away in darkness like Miss Havisham. While some might believe that feminism is dead (it isn’t) or not required (it is) there are still very strong societal pushes for women to behave in a particular manner when dealing with men and only by meeting those tacit standards of society will we ever be successful finding a mate. 

But what the hell are those standards? Feminism tells us things should be one way, our friends tell us things should be another way, and when all that fails repeatedly and nothing follows any sort of rule, it doesn’t take long before idealism and fairy-tale like fantasy turn to cynicism and dogged depression and anxiety; especially after repeated “failures” and false starts.

But given that as a single woman you are most likely to come in contact and be charmed by those fearless, and often frivolous, male approachers, it isn’t hard to understand why so many women can’t help but think the stereotype of the sex hungry male confabulator, is true of all men. You know the ones. The guys who listen to you like your words are music and act oh-so-interested like you are the centre of the universe, while the whole time it is a fake because it all ends when they get you in the sack.

The book, called The Man Diet by Zoe Strimpel, a British journalist who has been known for and written extensively about, the life of single women 18-35, alternates between being a scholarly analysis of the scientific literature on dating, a pop culture analysis of the real world as compared to Sex in the City, Beyonce songs, and Bridget Jones’s Diary, and a dirty-minded tell all of the exploits of the author and all of her friends. We hear about her own man-binge sessions and embarrassing episodes of being on a man chase.

Given her target audience is women like her, I do think that this book was slightly too young for me. It’s focus was the never-married single woman. There was no mention of divorced mothers of two who ride bikes, write blogs, and teach research methods (very much in that order of importance).

I’m not 18-35 and I’m divorced (for real now, it's final), and I’ve got the added cynicism of a failed marriage along with my serial-hook-up youth in my consciousness. Regardless, I still gained many insights into some of the standards of dating that I’d forgotten in the years I was out of the game.  Because let me tell you, even in my supposed state of advanced wisdom, in the time I was married and off the market, my former youthful naivety was left in suspended animation. And in looking for my second chance at love, I find I have not become more wise about manners of the heart during the period of time my romantic potential lay dormant.  

The book pointed out 10 very real causative factors that contribute to trashing women’s self-esteem in the dating world. Except it is really hard to read these books and not be left feeling like you are doomed with your own damnable behavior or, if you aren’t making the mistakes outlined, then feel smug and holier than thou with your superiority. The rules when followed, individually or collectively, are intended to help women regain their sense of self, drop the quiet desperation that seems to cling all over single women, and, not necessarily help them find Mr. Right, but at the very least help them find the right within themselves.

And I'm going to tell you the rules. In fact I'm going to potentially humiliate myself by telling you how I've faired with these rules. But that is for a future posts, which I promise to complete before Christmas. Frankly, I'm not doing much wrong if you want a little foreshadowing as to how this will turn out. In the meantime, if you have any embarrassing pick-up stories that will make me feel better about my own humiliating University experience I just shared with the world, please dish and share.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

At Season's End

On Cloud 9 (Carolyn Campeau's photo)

Someone asked me the other day what I would name as my best "age" -- what age was your best year? After contemplating for only a couple of seconds, I said, This year. Forty has been a good year. And Lordy knows I wouldn't want to label the best year of my life as something I could never get back and I know I don't want to be 19 again.

And I'm not unimpressed with my year on a bike either (and I'm never getting 19 back there either) although I would subjectively (and there are objective results to prove it), say that it started off with a bang and went downhill from there, ending with me crawling throughout that cyclocross race out in St. Malo more like an 80 year old. I was done. I had my last good cross race at Whittier Park and there was nothing left in the tank to finish it off.  Done.

The blasted Sand Pit in Altona -- God I love those socks...

So I imagine this is what burnout feels like: I'm tired. I'm stiff. I feel like I can't bend over. I can't tie my shoes. I can't put on my socks. I'm doing Yoga again and it's doing nothing. My body has seized up. The last time I was like this, it was because I was over training. What have I done the last 2 months? I've raced cross, I've commuted on average twice a week, slowly. And I've raked many many leaves.  Every time I go for a massage, the therapist says I need more like 3 hours on the table because one hour is barely doing a thing.  I also don't want to do anything that makes me out of breath right now. Being out of breath, hurts.

I lack serious motivation and drive to win or try and catch people. For example, I fell over in the sand at St. Malo on Sunday and that was it, I stopped racing. I heckled people as I got lapped because there was a lot of that going on this year. And I had a smile on my face the whole time.

The blasted run up in St. Malo (WCW). If you didn't know cross, by looking at the pictures you would think all we did was carry and push our bikes around. 

Today I rode my bike to work and that made the grand total bike-ground covered for 2011 5037 km. That number does not take into account the fact that for me, 1 km on a mountain bike is like 3 kms on the road. And there were probably about 150 trail kms this year.

So where did it start:

It started last December with me on a trainer working my butt off with 4 to 5 bikes a week. Greg (the insane one... who's blog is back up, for now... and it better not go down again), kept warning me all winter, when I told him what I was doing periodically, that I was going to burn out. I didn't believe him. (I'll admit it Greg, I didn't believe you!) But he was right. He would know, he's been at this game a whole lot longer than me. I think it took me longer to reach burnout than he thought it would, but by March I was ready to throw the trainer in a snowbank and be done with it. So I pretty much did and went outside.

My over my head backwards shot of Don on the PCH -- that's the Pacific Coast Highway.

Then came California. It is hard to have a good summer on a bike when the best thing you did all year happened in April. That week, fundamentally changed the reason why I ride. And it was made all the more incredible by having the amazing Don right up there ahead of me, or beside me, or behind me. Depended on who was having the good day and who wasn't. But in reality, there could be no bad days on the road with Don.

We would touch the Pacific Coast and then we would end up waaaaaay up here.

And that was just supposed to be the training camp for the GranFondo in Penticton. What a lovely little town that is and some of the most beautiful riding in Canada, I am sure. I got through most of it riding on the wheel of the pleasant draft that was the James Dyker train but I finished too fresh and I could have gone harder. It was a great week and I rather enjoyed getting to know James and Karin better, as well as Rene and Carla. There is a part of me that wants to go back and do it again.

Rene, Karin, James and me... out for a test ride the day before the GranFondo at the Okanagan Beach

This would have been my view for about 110km

Then it was one stupid crazy enduro event after another.

The Falcon 8 hour where I learned how to Mountain Bike in a damn hurry or get run over. Scott B. gave a speech at the start, as he likes to do, and told me that eventually  my brain would shut off and I would just ride. And he was right. Every lap I rode something I hadn't been able to ride before, with my best lap being #4/6 with Vanessa behind me, we chatted the whole way and I think I rode 90% of the technical stuff on that lap.

Somewhere around Beausejour, on the Lac du Bonnet ride, when we still looked well and happy and healthy: Scott B., Greg L., and Ben V.  It was only me and Scott that turned around and came back by bike too. Ben went on to the Whiteshell, and Greg got picked up and taken to a camp by his family.

The ride to Lac du Bonnet with Scott as his Leadville nutrition test on August long weekend was a 234.5 km round trip piece of torture. Only my longest ride ever by 4.5km but definitely the hardest because if you know Scott, there ain't much draft there and we had to battle 40-50 km/hr winds on the return trip to Winnipeg. That ride was followed by 64km with Alter Ego on the Sunday and 92.5 km on Monday, partially with FOG (where my dead, done body after powering up the hills on Garvin finally said ENOUGH and I kept getting dropped, over and over and over) and partially just me and Jason C. crawling from Birds Hill Park to Lockport where we enjoyed a nice bacon and egger and a large coffee, and then back to the Legion.

Somewhere beyond the 200km mark as we stopped at the Half Moon in Lockport to fight off Massive Bonk #2 of the ride.  Wind burnt and salt-crusted.

Scott also looked awesome! And I must say, I can't say I knew Scott very well before this ride either and it was good getting to see another side of him as well.

And all this 2 days after a 4 hour torture session on the tattoo table with Andy for phase 2 of my mid-life crisis tattoo. Here is what the now finished product looks like.

I love the whole thing but my favourite part is that little leaf growing out of the chain up at the top right. 

My feeble attempt out at the Back 40 in Tinker Creek was pretty good evidence that I was fading. But that still wins for the best race outing of the summer with the Alter Ego trailer in tow. The laughs that were to be had with Adam and Dave and the wives. And Paul and Penny and "the other" Dave and Kevin. Can you say, ROAD TRIP? And we won't mention what happened in the bathroom at DJ's on the way back from Morden.. will we? What happens on the road trip, stays on the road trip.

Dave C. of course just being Dave

And then it was just a lot of racing. When you race that much, what do you peak for? From end of August to November I did 10 races: 8 cyclocross races, road provincials, and the Tinker Creek back 40. You simply can't be much better than average if you are going to race road, and mountain bike and Cross. I envy those that can. I'm not one of them.

And if we add the Portage stage race (3 races), the River Road Stage race (2 races), the Grand Beach mountain bike race, and the Wednesday night Burr Oak series (I did 2) that is 18 races for the year.

And look at this! Proof that in May, I could hang on a train pulled by Willem B. (Stefan Isfeld, photo)

I did no triathlon. I helped run the show out in St. Malo but the running thing was not working for me this year. The legs are not handling it. So I'm trying to find out what might happen if I lose the shoes and go barefoot or minimalist. I've had some moderate success. Stay tuned. I'm hopeful.

So what's on the agenda for next year?  Good question, but I'm open to suggestions. Money is a bit tight and I need to be careful about that. I would like to be able to run again. Is this a pipe dream? I think the best thing I can do to help my biking (and probably my running too) is lose 20 pounds. That's hard.

I've always wanted to ride my bike from Winnipeg to Kenora, maybe that will happen next summer.  I'd love to go back to California, but not without Don. Maybe I'll do the Penticton GranFondo again, but I hate doing the same thing twice.

I've contemplated riding my bike from Winnipeg to "Somewhere," as in a really long bike trip.  I have a friend in Hamilton, for example -- I even mapped out a theoretical route around the Great Lakes. But I don't want to go alone. Anyone else get the summer off??  Or at the very least... two weeks in August?

That's the wonderful thing about this sport, isn't it. The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Catalogue Shopping, Disposable People, and Pre-nuptials

We have these things to sort out
between us, furniture, cars, nest 
eggs and air purifiers, souvenirs
 of past lives, past loves. Your cool damp
basement, my unlit closet. Assumptions
about who I am and what I have
without you. And as for the wounds
and the weight of desire
they are nobody’s property
the debts are paid, the account is balanced.
Pre-Nuptial -- Laurie Block (2006)

Although I am not a poet, the verse I quote above is from one of my favourite poems. And I'll admit that is biased because Laurie was my writing mentor back in 2006, two years preceding my love of bikes, and the same year my seven year old marriage was quickly and quietly slipping into the dusty pages of marital history books. 

The poem is about starting a new relationship post divorce. I can still see Laurie standing at the microphone at McNally at his book launch, telling the story of what he referred to as "resorting" to the personal ads, after a certain amount of time being single, to look for love. What he found there was a recurring theme: No baggage, please.

He discovered quickly that “baggage” was a code word for “children” in personal ad lingo. This was a shock for Laurie, who has two daughters who would have been much younger at the time.

But of course, baggage, in relationship terms, and what became the inspiration for his poem, is also about everything you bring into a relationship from your past. And the conclusion Laurie came to was, Why would you want to reject someone else's baggage? It makes them the wonderful person that they are today.

Now I’m not sure if personal ads even exist anymore in that form. Do they? I’m sure they have been replaced by online dating. I’ve been separated/divorced for over 4 years now. Is that too long to go without having found the next love of my life? Is there a time limit on such things before society defines you as perpetually and irrefutably single?

I’ve had a couple significant relationships in that time and a lot of bad dates and false starts. I tried online dating and I, and most everyone else I’ve talked to who has done it, has found it a huge waste of time.

I’m jaded now though, you understand. But I walked into the process of meeting people online full of optimism. Anyone who was willing to put out that kind of money to meet people had to be serious about it. Instead I found a lot of unfinished profiles with pat, safe statements that could be true of everyone (I’m inspired by my grandfather and I'm passionate about my kids), but gave no hint about what made them who they are. 

It wasn't long, and after a couple of weird dates with people who seemed normal, and even awesome, in writing and on the phone, before I began to suspect that most people in the online environment only thought they were ready to date. Some of them are just trying to replace something and fill voids as quickly as possible. I see a lot of anger and bitterness reflected in many men’s profiles; the only word many men can come up with to describe what they are looking for in a relationship is, "honesty." Nothing wrong with wanting honesty, I want that too, but that one single word sitting in the large space they give us to describe our hopes and dreams for a relationship, to me implies that dishonesty burned him in the past and he is still obsessing about it. I've also seen pleas from men for women with "issues" to please stay away. As someone who is often too honest and definitely has baggage and definitely is still scarred and conditioned from a traumatic and toxic past "relationship," I find it sad. I'm not looking for someone to be my therapist (nor do I want to be your therapist), I'm looking for a partner. 

It made me quickly start to wonder: Was I catalogue shopping for a mate? Felt that way. Flipping through profiles and pictures rejecting people based on nuances and photographs. Most of the time I read profiles and thought, "I don't know."  I could muster up no more enthusiasm than that without the aura of the real person in front of me. I made a pact with myself that if someone contacted me I would always answer. And, for the most part, I stuck to that.

The problem is that when someone is an object in a catalogue, they become disposable. I can be brushed off without even being tried on. And I can do the same to them. And people shouldn’t be disposable. A paradoxical trend seemed to emerge in my online pandering: If I did find some guy's profile interesting and having depth, I would often come back to look again at a future date after I contemplated making a move, and found myself "archived." Really? You didn’t even say hello.

One guy had "sex" identified on his list of "things you can't live without." I thought this was amusing and honest and, beyond bikes and coffee and writing, I was having difficulty coming up with two more, so I stole his idea. I left it up for about a week and then decided to succumb to society's stereotypes and removed it, because as a woman, I knew men would take my intentions the wrong way. Why can't I want a deep relationship and like sex too? But my experience in life has told me that as soon as I admit I like sex, the odds of me getting a relationship with someone with depth post that admission decreases significantly, while the number of shallow approaches increases exponentially.

By the way, I had two guys approach me during that week. It took another 3 months before there were 2 more after I removed it. Nothing like playing on a cliche.

Another guy told me that on another dating site he was in, a free dating site, one woman told him he was the first man who had contacted her who hadn't immediately asked her what colour her underwear was. Touché.

Stereotypes's exist with the athletic thing as well. Especially endurance athleticism. Especially female endurance athleticism. Lots of people are active but, nope, they're not really active. Endurance athletes get each other. We go for 3 hour bike rides in lousy weather and up steep hills because it is therapeutic and soothing and more than a little addictive but, let's face it, the rest of the world thinks we are nuts. As one guy I met online said to me: “I like that fact that you are athletic. It's very rare, you know.”

I snickered when I read this in his message. He was "athletic" too. One of his things he couldn't live without was "a gym." Rare? Not in my circles. In my circles, I don’t know anyone who isn’t like me. In fact, I have a rather low weekly output for someone who considers herself an endurance athlete. I have "baggage" (i.e. children) remember. 

All the men I've connected with online have only been conservatively active, and they don't get it. And I’ve sensed a threatened attitude often, ("I don't know if I could keep up with you." "I'm not interested in doing that much"), I can’t help but notice, looking around the athletic community, that it doesn’t work in reverse. Women aren’t threatened by men who are endurance athletes. Most women are quite content to support their guy and stand on the sidelines and cheer if they aren't interested in doing that much. Because it is OK, via the stereotype, for women to do less than their man athletically. 

And what about that whole evolution of attraction thing? I have a (guy) friend who teaches evolutionary psychology at various educational institutions around the city and when he is trying to get my goat, he shows me charts about how smart women with high incomes are not what guys want -- from an evolutionary stand point. Well... what does one do with this knowledge?  I'm smart and educated, I have a good job, and I have children (i.e. baggage). I'm doomed. But apparently we can't fight evolution. Making choices based on evolutionary factors and social stereotypes is unconscious.

I suppose those unconscious "evolutionary instincts" were all fine and dandy when we only lived to be 40 or 50 years old. But they are pretty useless and outdated now that we are living to be 80. I can't imagine living the rest of my life with someone who didn't challenge my thinking or wasn't my intellectual equal as discussed in one of my other favourite literary outputs, You Should Date an Illiterate Girl.

And while we are at it, here is my other controversial opinion, I think "Till death do us part" is also an outdated concept. Who we are as people is constantly changing and evolving, who says we are meant to be with the same person for 50 years? But society still looks at divorce as a personal failure.

Don't worry. I won't make you agree with me if you don't agree. Related to that opinion, I also think it is far too easy too get married and far too difficult to get divorced. And yes, I am a little bit left winged.

But there are a lot of evolutionary theories about physical attraction too. How our pheromones draw others to us. In fact, regardless of appearance, we will be most attracted to someone who is as genetically diverse from us as possible because natural selection dictates that couples who are genetically diverse will produce stronger children with "fitter" traits. Ever been addicted to how someone smells? It is kinda like that. That isn’t possible to detect when you are only looking at a picture on a website. Attraction is about how someone moves, talks, expresses themselves. It is about connecting with someone and feeling, I like having this person in my presence. And you can't even explain why this person and not another. All the psychological profiling and matching in the world will not find you that. 

In the online environment, there are no pretences about why you are making your approach. This is helpful, but it makes all your interactions, relationship-like from the very start. Unlike when you meet someone in person and see them in group functions on a regular basis and you go for as long as possible without making your intentions known. Things are more subtle in the real world.

But I've met guys online and I don't even know their kids names or where they live or where they work (you are deliberately protective about that information online, while it is the first thing you talk about when face to face) but we are already, to use the words of my mentor Laurie's poem, talking about the things to sort out between us. Those nest eggs. You dig to find each others’ wounds and find out if debts are paid and accounts  balanced.

And that's emotional wounds and balanced accounts and debts. Not the literal kind. 

And when one person decides "this is not the thing for me," even if it has only been a handful of emails, it requires a mini break-up speech (assuming you are gracious). And we each say thanks and we go our separate ways back into our separate circles never to cross paths again. And, God forbid, NO facebook friendship. This person could still be an axe murderer for cripes sake, even though he might now know more about the pain of my marriage ending than my next door neighbour.

Catalogue shopping, false intimacy, wipe the slate clean. Done.  

I went online to get out of my circles. To expose myself to people other than athletes, people I might not normally come in contact with in my day to day life, because there is far more to who I am than the fact I ride a bike. But it ain’t working. And I hate how it operates. And, to be honest, I would rather have fewer quality dates with people I've gotten to know in person first, who came out of nowhere like God-sends and took me by surprise who love the same things I love, than many false starts and awkward dates with people a computer has told me is "my match."

And at the very least, if you don't love bikes the way I love bikes, you must respect that I do, and you must love that I can do things like I do in this blog and I can write from my soul,  because this is who I am. 

So what next?

Patience, I guess.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not So Gut-less

Fall 2010 -- But a shadow of myself
What's with all the fear of change, these days? Facebook made a couple little alterations and my news feed was inundated for days with, "The new Facebook SUCKS." Just wait folks. The changes so far, are just the calm before the storm. But if the change is coming anyway and if you're like me and you prefer not to wait for the other shoe to drop but would rather force it to drop at a time of your choosing, you have the option to change Facebook now.

Change is hard though. We get comfortable with the familiar. Less willing to take risks with something new. And given all the changes that have happened in my life over the last 4 years -- most of which happened at my own choosing -- I often have trouble understanding people's reluctance to change things in their lives. Although I still have a couple things I could stand to change and all I can say about that is, "I'm working on it." Change is also about timing and readiness. Nobody is perfect.

But I'm not in this to preach enlightenment and existentialism or carpe diem so I stop there.

But change can also be good. For example a catalyst of things have happened since I wrote this post nearly a year ago that have made me happier. Having that "nightmare" or anxiety attack (whatever you would like to call it, because it was both) that woke me up that morning was the impetus for a lot of mini-awakenings.

And, I'll be honest, when I wrote that post, I had no idea what I was saying. I can't, even to this day, explain what I was going through any better than I wrote it there, but the meaning behind my words, at the time I wrote them, eluded me.

Unfortunately happier has also made me Fatter. Where this has become most obvious is on my bike. Painfully obvious. Getting dropped on the first big climb in road provincials was the first painful piece of objective evidence. A year ago that wouldn't have happened.  Struggling through two races in the B Cyclocross category and feeling but a shadow of myself from a year ago was the second. 

Me racing cross last year in Altona. Thinner and faster.
 (I had a great time racing C this past weekend. I wanted to puke the whole time. I've never raced so hard in my life and that is how cross is supposed to be. I'm still on cloud nine about how good that felt).

I am easily 10-12 pounds heavier than I was a year ago when I was racing cross.  Life circumstances in spring of 2010 threw me into a state of rapid weight loss. I lost I think about 8 pounds in about 6 weeks that spring and it wasn't for good reasons. I was ensured to gain it back (and to be honest, gain back and then some).

Me racing cross this past weekend at Labarrier a little pudgier but still strong. (Thanks to Bill Gendron for the picture.)
 I can't explain what was going on in my body then that caused that weight loss any more than I can explain how I gained the weight I did this year. There hasn't been one smidgen of change to my activity levels. I'm just as fit as I ever was. I'm just heavier. And I've always ate like crap and not much worried about my food choices -- bad habits instilled in the teenage version of me back at a time when I could eat whatever I wanted and still be 99 pounds are hard to break. I could stand to do better there and "I'm working on it."

And everyone who is with me on facebook is aware of my recent "no beer" "no bread" diet. I'm back on bread in moderation and beer only on special occasions. I haven't lost much weight. It'll be slow.

But here is the irony of being happier and getting fatter: For the first time in my life I look in the mirror and I don't see it. I try to put on pants that were loose on me a year ago and struggle to button them up and I think, "Really? They are that tight? Really?" I'm baffled. I can barely believe it. I like and am comfortable with my body in a way I have never been before.

And I'm never giving up happy for super-thin. Never. Although, I do want to find a better race weight.

Not to mention there are a few added benefits of extra weight. My kids have been repeatedly watching a movie lately. There is a line they keep rewinding and replaying over and over (especially the boy) and giggling through. It is at about 1:27 in the video trailer.

Frankly, it makes me giggle too. Tee Hee. I'm 40 and flirty and thriving and still mostly perky too.

I haven't blogged much lately. I've started on a few and they've felt all wrong and inappropriate so I've left them. I've wanted to write more about my experience but it's not working yet. A major part of my awakening has been coming to the realization that what I went through was hell.

And it wasn't my fault. 

There was a very specific trigger to all that and I'm still dealing with figuring out how to stop blaming me for how things unfolded. And as open a person as I am, and as much as I'm willing to talk about it all to anyone who hits upon the right subject, the few times I've tried in the last year has left me shaking in that state of "flight or fight" -- the same state I try and kill by doing idiotic things like riding my bike for 391 km in one weekend.

But when I didn't know what I was talking about. I babbled about it freely all the time.

But I'm sure I could help a lot of people by telling my story. It has to be done with grace and tact though (both qualities I lack -- if you know me, you know I'm not exaggerating.). One day I'll find the courage to try.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking Outside that Pre-Defined Box

Photo credit: Team Radioshack

I'm getting tired of writing about biking. Maybe I've just hit that point of saturation with the biking written word. It's not like I'm not thinking about biking. I'm thinking about it all the time. I found the biking enthusiasts heaven in my cottage neighbour's back yard a couple of weekends ago.

Bicycle Purgatory? A "collector's" stash
I made 8 trips to this pile. And NO, there was no Italian. There was this really comfortable big-ass saddle though that made me think of this scene (unfortunately dubbed over but if you listen closely you'll catch it) from The Road to Wellville.

I am as obsessed with the Tour de France as I ever was. I'm reading a lot of other people's writing about the race. I'm learning how it works. Why guys like Fabian Cancellara are hanging out at the back, or at the front and dropping off before the finish or attacking and then fading away as he did in stage one where, I'm sure, he could have won. Easily. If that had been his job. I didn't know superstar cyclists sometimes played bodyguard for other racers. But it shows me why I made bad pool picks this year. I have at least 5 guys who have done nothing for my points situation because it isn't their job to win or even place top 20. They are there to serve and protect.

Photo credit: Team Radioshack
I'm obsessed with the images. Radioshack's artsy fartsy take on product placement, while obvious, is somehow also beautiful in the mechanics of it all. There is nothing more beautiful in its geometry than the bicycle.

Photo Credit: Team Radioshack
I'm obsessed with muscles and scars and bandages and 5 o'clock shadow and white sunglasses and how rain soaked kits "enhance" to the point of distraction. The male body can be beautiful too.

Klodi was definitely working for me before he abandoned (Photo Credit: Team Radioshack)

But then again, Cav has provided his own moments of excitement. (Photo credit: Tour de France)
I'm just not obsessing over my own cycling. Maybe because since I've been back from California nothing has even come close to the magic of that.

Floating down the river channel in Penticton, BC... 
Penticton was gorgeous. I made a couple videos. They say it all.

I'd thought if I survived Penticton, I'd give the Falcon Lake 8 hour a try, solo. Survived that too. Barely. I succumbed to heat stroke and dehydration over time, but the agony didn't really hit until the next day. But I'm a much better and more confident mountain biker now than I was when I went into that race. And that really was the objective wasn't it? And I can't say enough about the FGBC and RRR boys and girls and their race planning commitment. They truly go above and beyond.

But I am thinking about words even if not necessarily biking words. I'm thinking about this blog. I've actually been in a rather serious love-hate relationship with this blog for the last 7 months. I haven't much liked most of what I've written here for quite some time.

Except maybe the California stuff. There were moments of genuineness in there.

And all my blog stats tell me is that there are an awful lot of people looking at volleyball ass on google images because that has been the primary blog traffic I've had in the last few months. That blog entry alone has had over 1000 hits since I posted it in January. False hits, of course, because I'm certain only about 2% of them were from people who actually read my intelligent feminist ramblings. My fault for using the words butt cleavage and beer in the same blog title. Damn my facetiousness. But I'll be honest. That stat kinda pisses me off.

I just want to write other things, now. I'll think about biking. I just don't want it to be the central focus of what I write about. I never did.

So I have plan.

I have this book I wrote. I wrote it nearly 6 years ago now. It is a good book and it's too good to sit dangling from a USB drive on my key chain -- where it presently resides. How do I know it is good? Well people with a little cred have told me so. I think the worst thing anyone has said about that book was that it was very good but it wouldn't have been something she picked up to buy. And I was OK with that because I didn't write it for 37 year olds, I wrote it for 15 year olds. I wrote the book that I would have wanted to read at 15.

Well, I would have wanted to read it at 12. But that's a whole other story.

It should have got published but shit happens and agents and publishers can only imagine promoting something that has a clear and obvious audience, not one that straddles that zone between young adult and adult. Nobody wants to take a risk on anything that falls outside some pre-defined box.

And I don't get that, because that it seems everything about me falls outside some pre-defined box.

I guess that one publisher that still has it and was so excited about it 4 years ago and has never rejected it got distracted by, oh I don't know... maybe it fell from the slush pile on somebody's desk and is languishing in dust bunnies behind a filing cabinet. I got tired of emailing to ask if they had any news.

And the world has evolved in 6 years and there is this little thing called e-publishing. You load it up and sell it dirt cheap -- a couple bucks a download -- and work the laws of supply and demand and hopefully I can sell enough copies to make back what I am about to spend to have a very talented graphic artist I know and love do her thing and design me a cover image.

But first, before all that, I gotta read it again. And that could be the hardest part of all as, same with everything in life, I am my own worst critic.

And I wrote that book in another lifetime.  And I should really be writing another one and not blogging about my bike races.

Oh, and go online and buy my book when I download it. Or if it isn't your thing, find a kid 15-25 (give or take) who might want to read it. It's good. If you don't think its worth the couple bucks I charge you, I'll hand over my royalties for your copy.