Friday, November 30, 2007

A Mighty Good Man

With just a few minutes left before closing time, I started to turn down the lights in the portrait studio. Then I went into the camera rooms to tidy up and shut down the computers.

From inside the small room, I heard someone approach the counter. Dread. I just wanted to close up and get out of there and didn't really feel like dealing with a customer.
I screwed on my smiley face and went back out. Seeing the form of a man, I concluded that it was probably a dad coming to pick up the portraits his wife had ordered.

I glanced at the guy and thought, "He's kinda cute." Then he turned to face me... it was my boyfriend! He'd come to surprise me!

He'd been away for ten days over Thanksgiving, then we saw each other for one evening before he had to leave again on a work trip. He'd been so busy I didn't even expect to see him until tomorrow evening.

I just love that he surprised me! Sometimes I think I'm the only person I know who loves surprises... and no one ever surprises me!

Good job Mr. Burns. Isn't it nice to have a girl who is so easy to please?!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Difference Between Men and Women

Still on my date with JR, the quiet and intense man trying to woo me.

We enjoyed plenty of conversation over dinner. An Air Force pilot, he told me about a problem he was experiencing with another pilot.

A little background, this all occured during the first year that women combat pilots were joining the men. I knew a couple of these women and considered some of them friends.

JR told me about one woman (the one I didn't know well) who was annoying not only him, but the other pilots as well. "She won't shut up." he said. He explained how in the plane, they all wear headsets to channel communication because the plane is so loud. Typically, the pilots only speak over the headsets deliberately... to convey information... or to make a quick joke.

"But she's constantly talking on the headset. 'Ooh, look at that cloud!' It's making us all nuts!"

I mulled this over for a minute and I thought I could relate to this woman in some way.
I told him, "You know, I think I understand what's happening. She's one of a few women breaking into male territory. She wants to fit in. It sounds like she's going about it wrong, but understand that when women are uncomfortable silence is even more uncomfortable. If we're in a car with you and you're not talking... we assume you're mad at us. So considering her position... the silence is stressful for her and she has a need to fill it."

He sat silently and considered what I had to say. Finally, he said, "That makes sense. Thank you. At least now I know why she's doing it, so maybe it won't bother me as much."

Hmmm. Interesting. We went on to enjoy our meal, our wine and had a great time.

When we got back to his car for the 40 minute drive back to town, we continued to talk and had plenty to talk about. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow. For a guy who doesn't talk much - this is going really well." As I finished that thought... and became conscious again of the atmosphere in the car... there was a lull. Internally, I panicked a little bit - thinking about our dinner conversation. Oh no.

At that very moment, he broke the silence again. "I just want you know... " he said, "I'm not mad at you."

That's when I burst into laughter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Back to Storytime.

When the very smart but quiet and intense man asked me out, See the Jeckyl and Hyde post below. He took me out to the nicest restaurant around, a clear attempt to impress me. This meant a 40 minute drive to another tiny town to the restaurant owned by a national celebrity who made a movie in the area years before. (sorry I'm not being specific about where I lived.)

This place was the one restaurant in the area with a grand reputation - everyone talked about going there. A married woman that I worked with was envious because I ended up going there a handful of times with different dates and her husband had not taken her there ONCE!!

So, expectations are high. This place is grand. We get there relatively early and the place is nearly empty.

The maitre’ de seated us right at the front of the room where there was bound to be a flow of patrons breezing passed us all evening. I was disappointed. Not cool for a first date. I knew it wasn't a great table but I didn't say anything.
On one hand, sure we were young and perhaps they wanted to save the better tables for more impressive couples... but it couldn't be less romantic!

We sat down and starting looking at menus. JR's face turned hard and I could tell something was wrong. I gently asked and he said, "This is a lousy table."
He got up, went straight to the maitre de and spoke quietly.

We were quickly whisked away to an intimate table in a dark corner.
I knew I was dealing with a guy who knew quality and how to get it. Yeah. That impressed me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Keep Christmas Well

There is a line in 'A Christmas Carol' when Scrooge visits his revised Christmas Future (if I remember right) in which his niece tells the gathered guests with pride... "Mr. Scrooge keeps Christmas well."

The last time I saw the movie that line struck me. So much so that my eyes welled with tears. It was another sign to me that I have to make changes in the way I celebrate Christmas. (see posts below - Nov 2 and Jan 8) It helped to identify my need to keep the true spirit of Christmas. I want to keep Christmas well.

This year I want to experience the sacred wonder of Christmas - even if I don't have children.
After Mass this Sunday, I'm really looking forward to it!

Mr. Burns and I went to his church on Sunday. There was a group selling religious items in the back of church after Mass. On their table I spotted an advent wreath/ candle holder that fit the requirements I've been trying to meet for years! Simple, small, traditional.

Of course this was the ONE time I went to church without my purse so I asked Mr. Burns if he would buy it and I would pay him back once we got home. He agreed, and we also picked out some taper candles and prayer booklets to go with it.

I was so pleased! Another step toward starting Christmas preparations and my own traditions.

As we walked out of church he handed me the bag and said, "There you go. That's your Christmas present."
"No, no. You don't have to do that. I'm paying you back when we get home." I said.
"No. This is your Christmas present. You're not getting anything else." He smiled.

Suddenly I was filled with joy, as I realized that I just received something very special. If Mr. Burns and I do end up together... each Christmas we'll bring out the Advent wreath that he got for me when we were dating.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Not quite Jeckell and Hyde

Ever meet one of those guys that you instantly dislike? And then end up dating him?

When I met JR, he immediately took to berating my career field. He was smart, and did a fine job of knocking my profession down a few pegs before I decided to stop our conversation and go talk to someone else.

It was probably a year later that I found myself at a dinner party where we were both guests. The entire party was a lively bunch... everyone telling stories, trying to earn a laugh. I noticed that JR was rather quiet. But when he did open his mouth, the few words that came out were carefully chosen and hilarious.

A few months later the same group was together on New Year's Eve. This time I found myself playing pool with him, and a mild flirtation developed.

After the clock struck midnight, breakfast preparations began in the kitchen and by the time we were eating our pancakes JR looked at me seriously and said... "What do you think about someone who talks to you over a meal and puncuates their conversation by pointing their fork at you?" I replied, "They're horrible and rude."
He turned back to his plate, moved some food around and then looked me in the eye and said, "That was my way of asking you out... in case you didn't catch that."

"Actually, I missed it entirely. I'm glad you clarified."

"Well, I'd like to take you out to dinner. But sometimes I don't talk much, so I'm worried about how that would go."

"It couldn't be too bad. Worst case scenario, I point at you and laugh."

He smiled. "Good. I'll have to call you."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Memory Lane

I originally started this blog after many disappointing years of single life. Not to say that all the years were disappointing… heavens no. Just the single part. Okay, that should be “Years of disappointing single life.” Better.

In fact, it was because I dated so many fascinating guys (rarely more than a date or two… month or two at most) and I had so many funny stories from these experiences… I felt they should be saved for posterity.

Many of my friends think my dating stories should fill a book. Guess I'll let you be the judge!

Well, soon after I started the blog – life got a little extra complicated. Then I picked it back up again about a year ago.

A few months after that God gave me a big surprise and introduced me to someone very special. I just can’t believe how beautiful, and easy, and wonderful this relationship is. What a blessing!

It feels strange to tell too much about the great Mr. Burns. (his pseudonym – obviously) So I think I’ll try to share some of those old dating stories – when I can remember them.
Meeting a truly fabulous guy tends to wipe out the memories of the inconsequential ones.

Food fit for a dame

In all those years of dating… many men have been impressed with the fact that I eat. Really eat… even on a date. A real meat and potatoes girl. Hardly ever a salad for me. I was never embarrassed to order a big steak, consume the whole dish and never even have to take leftovers home!
Of course I was younger then and somehow able to stay thin and svelte. That may be part of why they were impressed.

A few dates in with Joe, we went to a little chain restaurant one night after we both got off work. I ordered the lemon chicken. It came on a bed of angel hair pasta. It was tasty, but I joked to him that it was one measly chicken breast. If the palm of your hand is supposed be a serving… this bird had some catching up to do.

After I wolfed my ‘meal’ down it was as if I hadn’t.
I must have stared at my empty plate woefully because Joe said, “If you’re still hungry, get something else.”
“Should I?” I hated to appear greedy. And even being a girl who eats… two entrees? Can I do that?

When the waiter slipped by, Joe asked for another menu. He had no problem with my appetite.
Of course the waiter assumed the menu was for Joe. When he came back and I ordered my second dish, he was stunned! I was mortified at the time, but my date was beaming… look at the girl eat!

Yeah... that plate was empty too.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Romantic Gestures

What constitutes a romantic gesture in a relationship?
Something out of the ordinary? Going out of your way to do something you wouldn't mind doing anyway?

It seems something as simple as going to watch his flag football game was enough to earn points as a romantic gesture in his book. Mr. Burns was impressed just that I showed up. It had him smiling sweetly at me all day.

I think maybe I fail to see the little things he does as romantic gestures. I'm not really looking for them... what I would consider romantic are things he's just not going to think of. (Just as I had no idea that showing up for his game was going to have the impact that it did.)

A couple weeks ago when I showed up at his house, Mr. Burns said he had something special to share with me. He opened the fridge and displayed a fresh pomegranate!

I was a bit bewildered as to why this was special... outside of the fact that we're both Midwesterners living in a mountain state - so that makes a pomegranate an exotic fruit. This was a romantic gesture. And as soon as I understood that, I saw just how sweet it was.

Problem was we had no idea what to do with it. I cut it open and we just sat there and stared at it.
I eventually managed to squeeze 3 tablespoons of juice out of it!

He just wanted to share a new experience with me. Here is something I know nothing about... let's figure it out together.
I think that manner of thinking bodes well for the future!

Friday, November 02, 2007

I'm not the Only One!

Christmas is going to be different this year. For the first time in years, I want it to be the sort of Christmas that is truly celebrated as a time of Peace, Joy and Love.

Instead, for the past few years the holiday has felt like nothing more than a deadline to me. That's not how I want to celebrate.
I feel like I'm missing the true meaning of Christmas which is the celebration of the birth our Savior.

Sometimes I envy those with children, because passing on the traditions, the stories and the experiences must help to keep the wonder alive.

Without children, this is what my Christmas looks like...
I just run around for weeks buying gifts for family that I rarely see, (most likely buying them things they don't really want) pile everything into the car, drive for 10-12 hours through midwest winter roads, open gifts and drive back. It's a crazy rush, and it's always a let-down.

Today addressed the issue too:
"We are trying to figure out our holiday plans. My in-laws keep dropping hints, but to be honest, we just don't have the money to fly up there. It just really pisses me off that everyone expects US to travel to THEM. "

Amen sister!
Since I'm the only one in a different state... I'm the one expected to save my ONE WEEK OF VACATION (or one of the two weeks I get now) for the entire year - to drive across a state or two so I can be home with the people who are self-employed (and therefore don't have to give up vacation time) I have never EVER celebrated Christmas at my own home. Or at my own church. No member of my family has ever come to see ME for Christmas!

So this year, I'm not going home for Christmas. I'm not doing it to be stubborn, or to prove a point. No, really.
Just once, I want to celebrate Christmas where I live... instead of rushing to be somewhere else.
I've invited the family to come out here - but that is somehow ridiculous. They won't even consider it.

Last year, when I took my tree and decorations down on the Feast of the Epiphany - it seemed so strange that I even bothered. (see - Shelving the Future - post below) No one even saw my tree - but me. And that's when it hit me. Christmas is supposed to be shared. But I don't have a child, or a husband. Am I supposed to put off truly celebrating the miracle of Christmas until I do have a family?
I don't think so.

I just want to sit in the dark and stare at my Christmas tree lights in silence. I want to go to Midnight Mass. (The family back home goes to the 5:30pm Children's Mass - listening to same horrible, bastardized 'holiday' songs they've been butchering since I was in the youth choir. Ugh and Shudder!)
I want to pour a glass of wine and stare out the window at the new fallen snow, search the sky for the brightest star and feel the Lord surround me with his love. The Son of God made flesh to dwell with us here on earth.
I want to really contemplete the meaning of Christmas - instead of dwelling in the ruckus of my brother's kid's and their friends tearing open presents in a greedy rush.

So this year, I'm embracing my excuse - Mr. Burns and I are flying out to San Fran for my dear friend's wedding on Dec 17th. He's using the last bit of his vacation days to go with me. His family gets together for Thanksgiving, and he stays here for Christmas anyway.

Last year, I prayed for someone with whom to share the joy of Christmas... and I feel that God has answered that prayer.

So when I broke the news to Mom - I explained that we'd just be getting back from a trip when I would be jumping in the car to drive to Nebraska and instead of rushing like that, I would just stay in Denver for Christmas. I also leaned on the expense of two trips - excuse.
I expected a cryfest - but she surprised me by saying, "Yes. You should stay and have Christmas with Mr. Burns."

Yeah... she's just thrilled that I finally have a boyfriend!!
I was surprised and thrilled that we didn't have to have a drag-out fight about it.

A few weeks later I was talking with my 17-year old niece. She asked if I would be home for Thanksgiving. I asked if Grandma told her about Christmas. No. What?

Well, Mom and Dad understand but my niece is mad at me. I'm messing with her 'tradition'. She has no idea how much our tradition has changed. Her dad (my brother) is responsible for most of the changes that ruined my tradition.

My new tradition... takes a line or two from the the song Colorado Christmas by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
"The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere
Is a quiet christmas morning in the Colorado snow"

This year, I want to experience that for myself.