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BAH HUMBUG

The vast majority of Valentine’s Days in my life as an adult have been spent single, and yet I’ve always loved the holiday.  If you’re a regular reader – and if you are, I apologize for being mostly absent these past months (more on that later) – you know I’m a hopeless romantic.  If I’m with someone, I like to give her little mini-Valentines throughout the year (just goofy “I love ya” stuff), but on Valentine’s Day it’s time to make a special effort, and I love it.  The years when I’m not with someone, I usually spend Valentine’s Day thinking about past loves and daydreaming about some future love yet to have walked into my life.  Whatever loneliness I feel is typically drowned out by the eternal optimism that is my modus operandi.

This time around… I’m not feeling it.  At.  All.  In fact, all the shiny happy couples that I’m constantly bouncing against throughout each day and night, in person and on social media, have become oppressively irritating, rubbing away my optimism smile by smile.  Valentine’s Day this year just takes that irritation I’ve been feeling and turns it up to 11.

I think the shift in feelings is due to the realization that being alone is something I’ve got to live with for at least 3-4 more years due needing to work full and part-time jobs to take care of my kids and maintain my house (once the kids are in high school my financial obligations ease a bit).  So between working and the time I get to visit with my kids, that usually leaves one day or evening a week that I’m free to be social.  How am I supposed to meet and court someone special one weekend day/evening a week?  I tried and it doesn’t work.

So add that on top of the 4 years since my ex and I split, and the 4-5 years of being emotionally alone while married, and that’s a long fucking time.

I think my “glass half-full” optimism has always been driven by the hope that things are going to get better soon.  And while life is full of ups and downs, in general I do think things generally improve.  I’m happy with a lot of different parts of my life.  But recently I’ve had to admit to myself that romance, love, partnership is just not in the cards—that desolate stretch of emptiness goes  on for the foreseeable future.  And that fucking sucks.  It pisses me off, and makes it tough to maintain the smiles and optimism that I’m known for.

I started this blog when my ex and I separated as a way to mentally keep me from becoming that bitter divorcé that so many people fall into after breaking up with their spouse.  I used it to document and reflect on past loves, and to ponder what future love might bring.  Well, after three and a half years of writing the well of actual real life love experiences is tapped out (not that it was very deep to being with).  And except for one all too brief exception, there has been no new love experiences to write about… and it’s become hard to even imagine when or if future love will come around.  I would write “My Ideal Woman…” posts as an ode to a future love I knew would come around eventually.  Now, I’m pretty sure she’s not.  Not for a long, long time.

This blog was born out of optimism towards women, love and relationships.  That optimism is gone now.  That’s why I haven’t really been feeling up to writing.  Well actually, I’ve still wanted to write, but each time I sat down to write something it’s always been negative.  People don’t want to read negative shit, especially not from me—I’ve always felt that my positivity is what drew people to read my blog.  But I felt that I owed you guys some sort of explanation since I know from my own experiences following blogs it kinda sucks when they just… stop.

I don’t want things to stop here… I’ll do my best to think of interesting and positive things to write about going forward… but the source material for most of what I’ve written here so far is a dried up well, so let’s keep our fingers crossed I can find something else worth writing about.

Me & Hank Moody

I resisted watching Californication for quite a while.  There were a couple reasons why I didn’t want to give the show a chance.  First was the name of the show.  I thought it was a pretentious and juvenile name when the Red Hot Chili Peppers came out with the song years back, and found both the music and lyrics supremely lame.  It didn’t help things that the song was a radio “hit” and I heard it all the time.

Second was that it struck me as weird and strange that the role on its surface seemed to hew so close to star David Duchovny’s personal life.  He was married to Téa Leoni, an actress who I’ve always thought was both beautiful and talented, and his marriage fell apart due to his sex addiction.  Duchovny’s role on Californication, Hank Moody, ruins the most important relationships in his life in large part because of his inability to stop sleeping with any willing woman who crosses his path.  Like, if you’re struggling with sex addiction I’m baffled as to why you would take such a role?

So I resisted for six years, despite quite a few actresses on the show that I find gorgeous (Natascha McElhone, Madeline Zima, Mädchen Amick, Eva Amurri, Carla Gugino, Natalie Zea).  Then about a month ago while channel surfing I ran across some reruns on Showtime and, since there wasn’t anything else on settled in and watched a couple shows.

Somehow, I got hooked and went back and started watching the show from the beginning.  I mean, Hank Moody is an emotional wreck, an alcoholic womanizer, self-destructive and emotionally devastating to the people he loves.  But damn it, David Duchovny is so charming and charismatic in the role that I kept finding myself rooting for him despite his many, many flaws (though I did find out later that it’s not just Duchovny but his acting and the writing together that makes the character appealling– the writing took a noticeable dip in Season 3 and the Hank Moody character wasn’t nearly as good as the 1st two seasons, but thankfully the writing seems to have picked up in Season 4).  And the other main characters are largely quite colorful, engaging and entertaining as well.

As I realized that I really liked the show and was going to be watching all the seasons On Demand, I pondered why the show had really hooked me so and realized that it catches me from a lot of different directions.  The core appeal I think is the relationship Hank has with his daughter Becca, and how much he desperately loves her and attempts to keep that relationship alive despite the chaos he brings into his life.  It appeals to me as a dad who tries hard to stay close to my own children despite not living with them.  It also resonates as the son of  an alcoholic womanizer, who was just as self-destructive and emotionally devastating to the people he loves… only my father didn’t make nearly the effort with his kids that Hank Moody does.  So I can watch Hank Moody from his daughter’s perspect as a sort-of “do over” as to how it might have been if my father had made the effort.

Also, Hank Moody is a writer–  a novelist who has also dabbled in screenwriter.  I have long had aspirations of doing both myself, so it’s nice to see a little bit of writers-craft popping up here and there in the storylines.

He’s also madly, deeply and thoroughly in love with fairer sex and admires everything about them, an outlook that resonates with me as well.  Of course, Hank Moody looks like David Duchovny so with those looks and that attitude the character has women dropping their clothes for him far more often that most of us mere mortals out here in the real world.

There are quite a few layers to Hank Moody that make for a compelling character.  At his core, Hank is a damaged boy looking for love and acceptance, which makes him sympathetic.  Wrapped around that core is a self-destructive alcoholic that doesn’t seem to really want to change his ways, which makes him unsympathetic.  Woven into this layer is the womanizing, which taken as a whole is a bad thing, but individually it generally plays into Hank’s love of women and fascination with every woman he meets, which makes it feel less bad and more sympathetic.  The writers also tend to use his encounters with women to generally wreck major havoc in Hank’s life, often in quite humorous ways.

Draped over top of those layers is a mix of funny stuff — a healthy dose of life knocking you down when things are looking up, life kicking you when you’re down, and a revolving door of hilarious recurring characters and guest stars.  Rob Lowe in particular is fucking brilliant in his over-the-top role as a big name Hollywood actor.  And then there are some people who play twisted versions of themselves– Rick Springfield had a recurring role as a total degenerate version of himself.

Particularly fascinating is watching daughter Becca grow up, from a pre-teen in Season 1 to a college freshman in Season 4, and how her relationship with her father has evolved.

When I started watching the show I thought that the series had ended, but I’ve now learned that there will be a final season next year.  I’m certainly curious to see how the stories end for Hank Moody and the characters in his life.  I suspect there are going to be at least a few sad endings in store, but the eternal optimist in me is hoping for more happy endings in the balance.  It’s been a heckuva ride so far.

Have any of y’all watched the show?

Glad I’m His Dad

This weekend I had the kids with me.  Saturday we ran by Kroger’s to pick up some stuff to make “breakfast for dinner” — something both me and the kids love.  While we were there my son Aaron stopped in front of the sushi bin and saw one of his favorite sushi rolls was there (apparently they don’t make too many and they sell out quick).  Anyway, he pleaded with me to get it for him, and I said we could pick it up and he could have it for lunch on Sunday.  After finishing the groceries, we put the bags in the hatch and head home, unload the groceries and I start on dinner.

Today — Sunday — we’re out running a few errands and Aaron’s in the back seat.  “Oh crap,” he says.  I glance in the rear view mirror and he’s holding up a plastic grocery bag.  “I left the sushi back here since yesterday.  Is it bad now?”

“Yeah, probably.  We’ll need to throw it away.”

“Awww…” He’s disappointed.  Then he adds, “Sorry Dad” after realizing that basically we just threw $8 in the trash.

I can tell he feels bad, so I just say “Well, we all make mistakes.”  I try to think if there’s some sort of lesson to be taught here, but he knows he screwed up.  I mean, I suppose I should have caught that the sushi didn’t make it into the fridge the night before, but the kids were helping me put the groceries away and I was busy fixing dinner, so I didn’t even really notice.  I just assumed the sushi was in the fridge and put it out of my mind.  I wasn’t thrilled to have thrown $8 in the trash, but shit happens.

It occurred to me as I pondered how to respond to the incident that some parents would have screamed their head off at the kid for it.  I’ve seen other parents do it out in public.  My own father might have very well made me feel like total shit if I’d done that.  And it was a strange feeling that I had in that moment, where I was grateful that my son had me as a Dad rather than someone who would have screamed at him over something like that.  Imagining an alternate-universe Aaron having to deal with that sort of reaction… just made me both sad and relieved.

At the very least I suppose the lesson there is something that’s important in how I live my life– don’t sweat the small stuff.  There’s no point in getting upset and angry over small bumps in the road that’s just a part of living.  Save that energy for the things that truly warrant it.

I did make a mental note to myself that, one day, when Aaron’s a grown man and maybe we’ll meet somewhere for lunch I’ll order the sushi and remind him he owes me one.  Hopefully we’ll have a laugh over that.

Two Words

Today a friend posted a fun little meme on her Facebook page, it had a picture of a blank piece of notebook paper and under it the question:

If you could write a note to your younger self, in two words, what would you say?

That was actually quite tough… just two words?  Three words came pretty easy, but this was a challenge!  I thought for a while, and then finally figured out what I would write to Bennie the Younger…

KISS HER

If you could write a note to your younger self, in two words, what would you say?

Thinking back to so many times in my life, if I would have heeded these words rather than the self-doubt that always seemed to plague my thoughts… well, I’ve no doubt life would’ve been a lot more fun :)

Earlier this year I wrote a blogpost mentioning that one of the obstacles I foresaw to me actually being able to date someone is the fact that I didn’t have a decent car I’d not be embarrassed to pick up a date in.  First impressions matter, and when you meet someone and they see you’re driving a wore-out old car they probably make at least a minor judgment or two about you.

But having an wore-out old car wasn’t just a problem for potential dating… it also impacted all sorts of things.  I mean, just picking up anyone — not just a date, but a friend or co-worker — was embarrassing.  And having to constantly put it in the shop to get fixed, worrying about rides to and from the mechanic… and then the fear of breaking down on the side of the road with my kids in the car, not just for their sake but also the ration of shit I’d likely have to hear from their mother when she heard about it.  Not to mention how limiting it is when you can’t take a road trip to something fun or a family function or what have you because you’re worried about your car not making it…

Anyway, about a month ago another mechanical issue arose in my car and it was the last straw.  I’d already begun doing the research and what I wanted in a car and had narrowed my choices to a Ford Focus or a Kia Soul.

All it took was sitting in the Kia Soul to make my mind.

Yes, I am a Kia Soul hamster too

I totally fell for this thing.  I have to admit the funky box-style of some of the modern cars appeal to me, and the Soul is one of the funkier, boxier ones out there.

What really sold it was how affordable the one was that I looked at.  It’s a 2010 with some miles on it, and there’s a few scratches to the paint in the front, which all seemed to knock the price down quite a bit.  But the previous owner kept the oil changed and performed regular maintenance (thanks, Carfax!), and this was even the Kia Soul Exclaim (or Kia Soul ! ), which had some nice extra features like a sunroof and a killer stereo system.

So I bought it.

It's not neon green, it's "alien"

It’s not neon green, it’s “alien”

So I’m going to share some pics from my baby…

<3

<3

Approaching this every morning makes me smile…

IMG_1003[1]I just love the back of this car, it’s so weird looking and cool

My iPod has a little bit of everything

My iPod has a little bit of everything

The stereo is freaking amazing.  One night after work not long after I got the car I went out into the driveway and sat in my car and just cranked the stereo.  It made me realize how much I love music, but that I really don’t have much opportunity to just kick out the jams anywhere except when I’m in my car driving, so having the option to really turn up the volume and feel the music is awesome.

The stereo can also communicate with my iPhone via Bluetooth so I can make hands-free calls and hear the other person through my speakers and there’s a mic in the roof that picks up what I say.  To activate, I hit a button on the steering wheel and say “dial” and then either a number or a person’s name that’s in my contacts list.  I realize that this technology isn’t exactly new– this is a 2010 model after all — but it’s new to me!

The other weekend a friend came into town on business and needed someone local to drive him around the city, and it pleased me to no end to be able to do that for him.  To pick him up in a nice ride that I didn’t have to worry about breaking down at an inconvenient time.  And I’m stoked to be able to take the kids on the road to visit with family during the upcoming holidays and not even think twice about it!

Checking in

Hey there, it’s been a while!  Wanted to let everyone know that this has been a hiatus rather than permanently stepping away from blogging.  The good news is that I’ve been working on project that’s going to be published as an ebook, and that has been taking up all my limited free time and writing energy.  I can’t really say much about it now – once it’s all ready to go I’ll talk about it more – but I’m pretty excited about it!

On the dating front, nothing new to report since my first foray into the dating pool fizzled out.  I have to admit it really bummed me out for quite a while, especially the realization that the way my life is right now, how busy it is with full-time work, part-time work, and visitation with the kids, might just not be at all compatible with dating.  I mean, I connected with a really awesome woman through OKCupid and was unable to give her the time she needed and deserved.  How terrible is that?  It was incredibly frustrating.

I was chatting with a friend the other day whom I hadn’t talked to in a while, and he asked about how things were going with the woman, and I told him that we’d ended it and why.  I concluded that perhaps I’m just destined to be alone until the kids get older and I’m able to cut back further on the working all the time, and can actually get in synch with other single people out there.

He said that was nonsense, and that there are likely women out there who are just as busy as I am, that probably feel a lot like I do, and are in a situation where they don’t have a lot of time to give but still want some level of companionship.

Hm.  Maybe he’s right?  I’ve been pondering revamping my OKCupid profile, and being up front about the constraints on my time.  While I imagine that will make the pool of interested women considerably smaller, there might be someone in the same niche as me that’ll think a “local, long-distance relationship” is exactly what she’s looking for at this point in her life.

So what’s new with all of you?  What have I missed?

Ben:

Pretty epic advice for any man serious about loving a woman :)

Originally posted on love story from the male perspective:

A note from James Russell Lingerfelt: Mr. Gerald Rogers’ article stirred a wide variety of feelings among people across the globe. Helped and encouraged thousands, infuriated few. We read letters from women in Malaysia comforting women in England. Men in USA and Singapore spoke healing words to men in Europe and India. A man in Germany responded with some of the deepest insights I’ve read in years. The unity and compassion among people which this article brought forth was a beautiful experience to witness. I’ll never forget it.

As of August 26, 2013 (eleven days after posted) the article had received over 2 million views. One common idea reverberated among many of the healthy responses: If we make the conscious decision to daily place our spouse’s desires and needs above our own, and that’s reciprocated, the marriage will succeed. Is utter and complete selflessness the goal?

My advice after…

View original 1,709 more words

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