Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Anger for Anger's sake? No Thank You

On Monday night, I went to my second showing of the new Men’s Group I joined. It’s a new group, and it was only the third meeting, so they are still trying to gather steam and figure out the structure and direction of the group. There are some really strong personalities showing already.

One gentleman who appears to be a veteran of a multitude of self-help groups decided to be the facilitator on Monday night. There was also an extremely self-assured and confident intellectual that knew he had the correct response for everything. Some reason, the facilitator wanted me to join in an anger exercise with this guy.

It felt really strange. I honestly felt this smug and real anger coming from him, but I didn’t know what to do with it. The facilitator kept asking me to explore an angry response back to him, but I just didn’t feel it. I tried to “blow up” at him, and I must have succeeded, as we stopped the exercise.  I plan on talking about my experience next week, as to how I resented being forced into an angry confrontation in which I had no vested interest. Getting angry for anger’s sake is not my idea of a positive interaction. I ended up really liking the guy, and respected his different approach to life. We had a nice long talk after the meeting and I think we both came away with a mutual respect. I would share a beer with him any time. He even called me out on my need to always appear that I am calm and in control of my emotions…and I agreed with him.

I didn’t have such a positive experience with the facilitator. If an emotion comes up naturally, sure, let’s utilize it and work with it. But there is a very huge difference in facilitating a meeting by shepherding the ebb and flow of the topics along and forcefully leading a crowd that is kicking and screaming along a path that only the leader wants to go down. .  .

Luckily we plan on having different people run the group each week


My ground-water environmentalist friend came by the house Monday before the Men’s Group. She had some incredibly great ideas, and I hope to use some of them. Unfortunately I am going to add more concrete around the house to divert the rain water. She understands my fear and supports whatever I choose to do, and I plan on using her ideas to move the rainwater off of the concrete and into a Bioswale   so I will have a nice relatively maintenance-free yard. My whole goal is to get as much groundwater away from the house so the mold does not come right back into the basement after all of this expensive work.


WWW has invited me to a party on Saturday night. Apparently her crowd really enjoys the naked hot tubbing.  I guess I’m game after all.  I will see WWW tonight at the regular Wednesday night dance but we won’t have much of a chance to talk, as she leaves right away to go to another late night event. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Male Compromise Theory on the dance floor

On Friday night, I went to see the movie “Pina” with Superbowl woman. The more time I spend with her, the more I realize it is just a physical attraction, and her personality and mine would not be compatible in a more intimate setting. She is an awesome friend though. And I intend to strengthen that friendship.

On Friday I ended up spending about 7 hours with Woo Woo Woman (WWW?). About 5 hours of that was full of deep conversation. I really liked it. Although she may be more subdued than the women I am usually attracted to (with disastrous results) we are very evenly matched. Our relationship lifestyles are quite different though………….I have a rather puritanical view of sexuality and monogamous relationships, while she is a lot more fluid without as many rules. In many respects, I admire this attitude.

Regardless, it was a great talk, and then we met some of my friends for karaoke. The friends were actually Superbowl woman and her ex-boyfriend who  is moving back into town.  I had never sung in front of these friends before, and I think they were pleasantly surprised. They are both accomplished musicians.

At the end of the night, I dropped WWW off at her place with a few tender kisses good night. We planned to meet Sunday morning at our regular dance. It was quite nice bouncing around the room, meeting friends, and sweating out the whiskey of the karaoke night.  WWW and I kept moving back and forth into dances with each other and at towards the end of the dance, we did some contact improv that ended up with us rolling around on the floor. The first time we have done that, actually. The most full contact our bodies have experienced together. It was nice.

Afterward, she invited me out for Dim Sum  with some of the her friends . Including one gentleman that is her Ex…or current…. I’m not exactly clear on that. I will need to ask her more about that. I do know that he is married in an open relationship, so his wife is aware of WWW.  With my more puritan view on this sort of thing….I just don’t know if this is the sort of “Boundary Pushing Experiences”   that I am looking for.

It was interesting to meet this guy though. He is quite the opposite from me. Tall, testosterone filled, muscled, loud and assertive, slightly overbearing… A regular dude’s dude.  Nice enough guy, certainly good looking, but I wouldn’t share a beer with him.

After the Dim Sum, they all made plans to go soak in a hot tub and asked me to join. I didn’t have any plans for the afternoon, but declined anyway. Not that I can’t get into a hot tub naked with people, I’m usually very ok with that. It just seemed like I was being vetted by the lunch group. And while I am usually comfortable being naked, I wouldn’t be comfortable with WWW. For some strange reason, if we are to enter into some type of physical relationship, I'd rather approach our bodies alone first.

Like I said, I admire some of this open attitude towards intimate relationships. It’s a little bit like non-monogamous dating. But there seems to be some intimate mischievousness that I may not be ok with. On the other hand, perhaps it is exactly what I need to experience to change my view of relationships from being a devoted husband to light-hearted dating. After all, some people view serial monogamy as not a healthy thing, referring to it as Male Compromise Theory.


And on the house front, I have a friend coming over tonight to check out my water run-off problem. She is an expert on ground water management.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Personality Testing with Various Results

The date with Woo Woo Woman (I dislike this nickname for her) was pleasant. She is lots of fun, but perhaps a little too subdued for me. We talked a little about the Briggs-Myers Personality Test 

She is an INFJ 

The last time I took the test I was an ISFP. I just took the test linked above and came out as INTP, go figure.

I don’t put too much faith in these tests, especially the ones with so few questions. I took a 500 question Myers-Briggs test once. Ugh, that thing was excruciating. I think I was an ISFP on that one too.

We might do something together this Saturday.   There is a Japanese themed dinner party I may try to drag her to.  Although I'm not sure what type of Japanese food I would bring to the potluck. Maybe some seaweed salad. I love that stuff.


I have a date tonight with SuperBowl Woman.  Not really a date, but a get-together. We are either going to see the movie Pina  or  meet up with some other people for some late night dancing to 80’s music. Should be fun either way.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Came to Dance

I went on a buying spree for building materials last night. Gathered up enough materials to generate a bill that equals three and one-half months’ worth of take home pay.  I was nauseous as we went over the list. The funny thing is, we didn’t end up buying any of it. My General Contractor didn’t get the price break he wanted, so we walked out of the store. Apparently these stores will wheel and deal a lot more with the contractors. But we did get a full list of items we need, and I got a taste of what it will really cost when we pull the trigger on buying all of it. The list didn’t include any appliances, and I am going to order kitchen cabinets today that will cost about 1.5 months’ worth of salary. Wow. Nice cabinets though!

I’ve gotten past the point of freaking out about the cost. I will be (already am) broke, but I won’t need to do anything more to the house except general upkeep. I’m also splurging on the initially expensive high-efficiency LED lighting so my utility cost should stay fairly low. I still think I’ve done the right decision on the house.

I wasn’t able to make it to my regular Wednesday night dance class last night, and I really missed it. They have Ecstatic Dance in most major cities in North America. Sometimes it is called Soul Motion Dance. Usually the dances are held in yoga studios as they have nice open floors and usually a sound system.  I’ve often thought how much fun it would be to travel the countryside in an RV and rent space in dance studios, grange halls, or old ballrooms to hold a dance in some small town. All it takes is 5-6 people, a decent speaker system, and my laptop pre-loaded with the music. I could easily imagine a modest cover charge that would pay the space rental cost. It would have to be pretty small towns though. A quick Google search for “ecstatic dance”, “soul motion” or “5rhythms” will probably bring up something near you. 

What I find interesting about these dances, is the kind of people that go to them. I have met doctors and construction workers. I have met a nationally ranked Mixed Martial Arts Fighter. I met an older man with crippled legs that danced on crutches. I’ve met young families with small children that run around interacting with everyone. And you know something? It is also interesting in who I Don’t meet at these events. There seems to be a self-regulating process that weeds out the people that don’t have good intentions at the dance. These people may come once, but they seldom come back until they are ready to interact with the other dancers with respect. I find it amazing.


I have another date with The Woo Woo woman  tonight. I seem to be drawn towards her quietness. It’s different than the quietness of Blind Date woman

I also don’t think Woo Woo is actually looking for “a relationship” in the standard sense. I get the impression she would like to hang out with me, but she would also want the freedom and space to hang out with whomever she pleases. This might be another good transition for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It can be a wonderful life..... if I let it.

What a difference a few days makes.

On Friday night I went to a special Contact Improv Dance Jam at a different studio that I have never been to before.  It was very strange. When I first got there, I was the youngest person in the room. I was happy though, to recognize a few faces from some of the other dance activities I frequent.

The facilitator then had us sit in a circle and handed out blindfolds. Yup, blindfolds. It was voluntary to wear them, but since I was in for a penny, I went in for a pound and wore the blindfold. I was a bit creeped out for the first 20-30 minutes. The improv dance was nothing like what I had previously experienced. I was used to standing up, meeting a fellow dancer with eye contact to gauge approachability, keeping some distance for a few minutes as we moved together, and perhaps moving closer as we both agree to the terms of the dance.

With blindfolds on, we stayed on the ground, with a strange random slow feeling  and rolling around action. It was rather like a bunch of horny old people indiscriminately groping each other. I wasn’t actually groped or fondled in inappropriate areas, but the “feeling” of it was quite strong, especially in the first 20 minutes or so. Several times a got on my knees in Child’s Pose and just pushed myself backwards out of the circle to give myself some space. The facilitator was really great in checking in with me to gauge my comfortability level.

Once I eased myself into it, and let go of some fears, it was actually quite nice. And it was quite sensual as I rolled around on the floor with a rather sexy woman maybe five years my senior.  It’s difficult to guess though, as I look about 10 years younger than I actually am.  I accidentally took home the blindfold, so I need to go back again…. You know…. Just to return the blindfold.

And If I thought Friday night was strange…….

After a nice breakfast with my hiking partner and picking out paint samples for the house, I met with a fellow dancer friend for coffee. She invited me to a party later that night, and since she lives so far out of town, we decided to hang out early.

The party. It was quite crazy. It was a dress-up party with an Alice in Wonderland theme. I got the memo late that it was a dress up party, so I went as a character from before Alice went into the looking glass and down the rabbit hole…. Just normal street clothes.
There were many people from the dance community here. I recognized more than a dozen faces….people I have danced with, but never actually spoken to.  It was really fun, and making new connections has been one of my goals this year.  It was great to put some names and voices to faces.  The crowd itself is very warm and welcoming, although perhaps a bit higher on the woo woo and Burning Man scale than I normally would hang out with.


Sunday morning found me at my regular dance class, along with many of the people from Friday and Saturday night. The good morning Hello’s were more frequent, the hugs a little warmer. It was very nice.

They played the Brother Iz song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" during the dance. As soon as the opening notes were strummed on the ukulele, the emotion was too great.  I had to leave the room.  I sat in the foyer listening to the music, and hearing the hundreds of voices singing along. We played this song at my wife's memorial service. The name of the album this song is on is called "Facing Future". It was one of her favorite albums the last year of her life.

And at the end of the dance, a fellow dancer invited me to a new Men’s Group that was having its second meeting on Monday night.  Of course I said I would go.


I had already arranged to take Monday off work so I could get some building materials and design decisions made on the house.  Found some awesome discontinued tile for only  $0.38 per square foot. Enough to tile quite a bit of the basement.  The day went by too quickly but I am feeling better about the house.

Yes, the house is bleeding me dry, but it will look great and I will be able to get roommates in pretty quickly after it is finished. I think I have made peace with the process…at least this week.

Monday night arrived it was time to head to the address listed for the Men’s Group. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The group lists over 45 members. When I got there, I was the only the 3rd person to show up. There eventually were 8 men.

The meeting went well enough, for strangers getting to know each other. The facilitator kept things moving well, and there were great topics that were brought up. I will be going back again.

My life is good, and I should be good with that.

 Israel "IZ" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole  "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Look Upon my Works, ye Mighty, and Despair

There is no change in the situation. The downward spiral continues.

I am feeling overwhelmed at all of the past costs of this home remodel, and the future costs still needed to pay out. The previous luxury of having roommates to pay extra on the mortgage will now be a necessity. I would like to call it massive Scope Creep on this project, but the mold in the house required all of these additional costs. My original goal of trying to make a self-sufficient lifestyle has now degenerated into a consumer-driven, mortgage-laden, privacy-stealing chain around my neck.

Since my brother is doing all of the work with his crew, I am getting a screaming deal on labor costs, but it still costs money, and the materials are expensive. Paying rent on the apartment, the mortgage payments, utilities …… I’m broke and the credit will run out all too soon if I am not careful.

I just need to plow through all of these upgrades and everything will be fine, but for right now, I am not feeling very good about the decision to buy this house. I am contemplating cashing in a frozen retirement account and taking the large hit in taxes so I can put it directly onto the mortgage. Using a mortgage calculator, the money I would save on interest would more than make up for the taxes lost.  This is an account I need to deal with anyway, as it is my wife’s profit sharing account from her old company.

The rest of my life is suffering as well. I have the same dishes in the sink for 2 weeks, my laundry basket has been full and I am out of clean clothes. The mail has been piling up and bills need to be paid. When I do have free time, I curl up in bed and try to sleep with my mind racing.

This too shall pass.

Title from the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bite the Bullet with Kitchen Cabinets?

Yup, did some Karaoke on Friday night. Had three shots of Bulleit whiskey, too. Good stuff. 

Maybe that’s the reason for my song choices. Two of my over-sung standards and one cheese-ball tune that my friend wanted me to sing:

Respect- Aretha Franklin
Vehicle- Ides of March
I’m Not in Love- 10cc

The friend I went with chose the 10cc tune. It was quite fun to sing, and those 70’s songwriters really knew how to craft a story. But what a downer song for the crowd. Not exactly the kind of upbeat song most people want to sing at midnight.


I don’t usually drink that much, and the shots were an extremely generous pour…So I was not at 100% when I reported to duty on Saturday morning. My job was to help transport and set up music equipment, speakers and microphones and such. It was a volunteer gig for a friend’s band. There was a community event to plant trees all over the neighborhood and they volunteers all came back for lunch and live music. It was a fun time.

The pressure of the house is getting to me, so I wanted to move things along. I enlisted the help of my friend with the good fashion sense (of the Vintage Store Owner fame) and we went IKEA to look at their offerings. They have many styles to choose from, and I know for sure a couple of things. The first being….I don’t want IKEA kitchen cabinets.

I also know I do not ever want to eat there again.  I had a spinach and cheese crepe, and for only $1 more I added five meatballs….with gravy!  And some type of lingonberry drink. I was then talked into dessert. Some type of apple pie/cake that wasn’t very tasty.  I was not feeling well the remainder of the day.

I went home and crawled in bed, feeling sorry for myself on this fine mess of a house that I’ve gotten myself into.

I know it will all come together eventually, but I am quickly going broke and there is long way to go, and a short time to get there.


I skipped my Sunday morning dance so I could have brunch with my hiking partner and his wife. It was a great time, and we had great conversation. I showed them the house and we commiserated on the amount of work that needs to be done as they have just completed a major remodel of their home. I picked her brain on kitchen cabinets, as they had a great remodel. I think the cost would be too much for me though. They spent an extremely large amount of money, but it sure looks nice.

I went back home and crawled in bed again. The house is really getting to me. The work is slowing down this week because my brother has an actual paying commercial job that he started today that his main crew needs to work at.  I am afraid this will drag slowly on for another couple of months.

My mind was racing all evening, and I couldn’t get to sleep. The last time I looked at the clock it was 2:30 am and I was still wide awake with a screaming brain. My alarm goes off at 5:15.

I’m Not in Love- 10cc

Friday, March 9, 2012

Oblivious to Demolition and Attraction

I need to go on more dates.

Last night, I went out for dinner with the woman that asked me out last weekend. We have many mutual friends, so it was a nice and easy conversation. We had a great time, checked each other out, and went on our separate ways. A nice friend connection was made, and the next time we see each other at dance or parties, the hug hello will be a bit warmer.

I need to make more connections like that. No romantic connection needed, but the experience of sharing and getting to know someone with comfortable ease.


On the house front, the carport has been removed, the basement floor has been jackhammered open to expose sewer piping, and everything is partially done, but nothing is near completion. The crew was really fast and good at the demolition, but things have slowed way down with putting the house back together. I know this is normal, but still a bit unnerving to me.

The time is near to find some kitchen cabinet styles I like, and also pick out some paint colors for the exterior.
For the exterior paint, I’m thinking of a dusty sage green with warm white trim. Classic look with just a bit of flair.  The kitchen cabinets are giving me a headache. I have no idea what to get for this very small 1920’s home. I’m going to IKEA on Sunday for some style inspiration.


First things first though, it’s the weekend and time to have fun.  Heading out for some karaoke tonight with a really groovy friend that I don’t get to see that often. We have never done karaoke together before, so it will be fun to experience her music choices.

Saturday I am helping some musician friends pack up their gear for an afternoon gathering. It’s some type of tree planting event so there should be lots of fun to be had. I suppose I should read up about the event so I know what to expect. I’m just there to help the band set up and tear down.

Oblivious- by Aztec Camera

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You Can Dance... For Inspiration

I’m starting to feel better about the house remodel.

We are replacing all of the gray water drainage pipes in the house. The existing pipes were almost plugged with disgusting sludge because the pipes were installed without enough slope to let liquid drain properly. The basement walls have one coat of DryLok paint on them, and soon will have another. We see that water is still leaking into the basement though. We need to concentrate on the outside ground before we frame anything in the basement.


I have a date on Thursday. A woman that I dance with came up to me the other day and asked me for a date. I said yes, and we will have a nice meal at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants that serves traditional “street vendor style” food.  I have met this woman once before, at a friend’s birthday party. She actually has been around my new circle of friends for a very long time, and I have just never connected with her at any of the large gatherings.

She might be a bit woo woo for me, but a friendly date that could turn into a nice friendship is not unwelcome.

My new goal for myself though, is to go on a date with someone that I have approached, not with someone that has approached me, or a blind date. The few women I have been on dates with since my wife died have all approached me in some form or another. I really feel that ecstatic dance, and the contact improvisation dance jam, is helping me get the self-esteem and self-worth to encourage myself to be bold.

There is a woman at the contact improv that I would like to ask out on a date. I found out she has a child, so I automatically wanted to remove her from the dating pool.  That’s just another excuse I can tell myself instead of gathering the courage to ask her out. It’s just a date, not a wedding proposal.

You Can Dance... For Inspiration - first line from Madonna's song "Into the Groove"

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Small Stone Marker.

We decided on a stone color called “Elite Green”

A simple stone marker with her name and years of birth and death. A simple rose on one side.

Her ashes will be placed near her father,  grandfather and grandmother, and many other family members.

Many in the direct lineage never reached 45 years old in this family. With the death of my wife, and no children between us, this is the end for this strain of EDS for this family.  My wife’s brother did not inherit the disease, and he has not passed it his daughter.

The funeral director in this small town grew up with my wife’s father, and it was a joy to hear some old stories of his wild youth. It’s always a treat for my wife’s brother to hear about his father.


My father-in-law had asked me to bring my wife’s ashes on Saturday, just in case the funeral home wanted them right away. They didn’t.  I had already prepared my in-laws that I didn’t want to bring the ashes back home with me. My mother-in-law understood, and they took the ashes home with them. I think it will be good for them both to sit with the ashes for the next month while the marker stone is being cut.


I spent the next few hours with just my brother-in-law. Sitting in his garage. It can be extremely hard for me to talk with him sometimes. I see and hear my wife in so many of his facial expressions, thought processes, speech patterns……..


I woke up on Sunday morning and went to my normal ecstatic dance. I was overcome with grief when I realized this was the first morning I had woken up without my wife in the house. I realize we are just talking about ashes, but the significance was almost unbearable.

I feel rather numb since Sunday morning

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Weekend of Black Stone Heart and Mind

Tomorrow I meet with my in-laws to plan a final last memorial for my wife.

It will feel good, but painful.  I’ll bring my old man hanky and have a good cry.  I still hurt.


I worked for 20 years at my previous job. Yup, straight out of High School, I joined a Union and was earning a family wage at 18 years old.  It was hard, physical work. My body was being torn apart. I met my wife, and she gently encouraged me to be easier on my body. I started working more in the office instead of on the production floor. I was eventually promoted to a supervisor position of overseeing 1 person (myself).  It was still hard work, but now I worked the old noggin instead of the old back.

At the 20 year mark, with my wife’s support, I quit my job in pursuit of another career. I landed in an incredible family owned business, and I am just about to pass the 5 year mark with them.  


The house is slowly driving me crazy. Since I haven’t moved into the home yet, my insurance company mailed me a Notice of Cancellation that was also sent to my mortgage lender. I’ve called my insurance agent, and she will hopefully straighten everything out.

The house is completely unlivable right now. Even the upstairs kitchen and bath have been removed. When we tore off the remaining drywall in the basement, we found more shoddy wiring work and corroded pipes. We are now re-wiring and re-plumbing the entire house. Even the water drain lines needed to be replaced.  On the bright side though, I have re-configured the entire basement, and it should be great when it’s done. I’ll have spent my whole retirement nest egg on it, but what the heck, it will look great and outlast me.


I guess I’m just trying to get through the weekend with my brain and heart turned off. Tomorrow will be an emotional train wreck…..And I don’t want to bring my wife’s urn back home with me. 

Bauhaus- Black Stone Heart- Peter Murphy