Reconnecting

Recently I reconnected with two former business colleagues. I have known both for 20 years or more. It was lovely.

The first had called me. She’s in sales and was checking in to see if I needed her services. I didn’t, but we got caught up. She lives nearby and plays golf! We made plans to get together when the weather cools down a bit.

I needed some information from the other and he graciously called me back quickly. He is an absolutely fabulous gay guy. I follow him on social media and he cracks me up. His award show commentary is a must read.

He was also part of the Great Resignation, so we compared notes and caught up. It was a wonderful conversation and reminded me how much I enjoyed working with him.

These two friends plus yet another colleague I also reached out for a referral all reminded me that people do like me and enjoy my company. I need to make the first move more often.

The third colleague is in a senior international role. He immediately returned my text even though he was on a European vacation. Such a great guy and very helpful. He made me look good at work, so I was grateful.

People love to connect, so I just need to make an effort. My fabulous gay friend and I are planning a big girls reunion (his words) in the Fall. We want to reunite with a bunch of amazing women from my old world. It will be epic…. I can’t wait.

I should make a point of calling 1-2 old friends a week. I think my life will be all the richer for it. How do you stay in touch with folks?

Scratching an Itch

Ah, it is Hump Day when I write about sex, dating and relationships from my 55+year old perspective. Today is a little racy, but not too bad.

In a weak moment I reached out to Mysterious Lover and we finally hooked up. I’m glad I did. We had an exhausting 2-hour romp that left both of us satisfied but wiped out. We aren’t as young as we would like to think. I really enjoy sex. I need it in my life I have decided.

After a quick nap followed by a quick shower, we enjoyed an elegant, romantic dinner. We decided I would spend the night in the hotel. I alway go home, but it was a Friday night and my AC was on the fritz. ML insisted I stay and enjoy another glass of wine since I wouldn’t be driving.

I told him he could pop over the next morning for a quickie. His eyes lit up at the thought, but he couldn’t. Plus we were both so worn out….

He does deliver an excellent boyfriend experience. I have written about this before. He opens all doors (including the car), orders for me and caters to my every whim. It is a balm on my soul.

He is genuinely interested in what I have to say. I was telling a few work stories that involved some interesting negotiations. I paused and said, “I’ll stop. I don’t mean to talk about work.” But he told me he loves my stories and encouraged more. I enjoy his perspective also. What a refreshing change from my Ex who always cut me off and criticized whatever I had to say.

ML always tells me how beautiful and desirable I am, compliments my bedroom skills, my dress. Our conversations are always interesting. Yet he is not relationship material.

There is something lurking beneath his surface. I never feel in danger with him. I see how much he cares for those he loves (I fall very loosely into this category). The way he cares for his difficult, aging dad impresses me greatly.

But that something… I don’t want to put a name to it. He is a street-hardened guy. At one point he was an NYC narcotics detective – need I say more? He is not afraid to go toe to toe with anyone.

He reminds me of a captive big cat – lion or tiger – take your pick. You have seen those big cats that rub up on its handler, drinks milk from a bottle and suddenly one day mauls the same handler.

ML is not someone to completely let your guard down with on a day-to-day. Like I said, I am never scared of him, but I do respect what he is and never assume he is domesticated.

I wonder how long this will last. I wonder if I am the only one. But I don’t fret. It is what it is – a No Strings Attached relationship between two consenting adults. That’s enough when it comes to him.

Housing Crisis – Next Steps

I wrote about my upcoming housing crisis last week. I fretted a bit and then took a step back. I decided several key things:

  • I won’t settle. I still want a garage. This has been on my wish list from the start. I want the garage for my car so I can leave it there in case of a hurricane evacuation (I’ll fly out of Florida because driving is fraught during a hurricane evacuation). I also want a place for my bike, beach chairs, perhaps a paddle board in my future. If I get an electric car, I will be able to charge it. My garage desire is strong.
  • Two bedrooms is preferable to one. If this becomes my true retirement home, I need another bedroom in case I end up with a caregiver (either temporary or permanent). I don’t want too much space because that will be a pain to keep up, but two bedrooms would be great.
  • I have to have some type of balcony or patio. I enjoy sitting outside year round.
  • I need to give myself some time. Sorry folks, but the upcoming recession may soften the housing market and provide better options in both renting and buying. I just need to be patient.

My problem is that giving myself time is a bit complicated. My lease is up in December – possibly the worse month to move. January is a close second. Neither the housing market or my bank account will be ready for me to buy.

I am thinking I should just bite the bullet and rent for a year in the new neighborhood. It will give me a chance to try out the area without a more permanent commitment. I don’t want to stay in my current spot another year because my neighborhood is definitely shifting. There are more homeless a few blocks away, my neighbors are different with lots of people moving in and out, more folks in each unit, more kids (I’m not adverse to kids, but it’s a definite change).

I think I will simply move as planned to an apartment. My rent is going up regardless of if I move or not. Spend a year getting acclimated in the new neighborhood and then I can see where the housing market is at. Maybe I stuff everything into storage in 2024 so I can buy at a moment’s notice. Maybe I sign for 6 months in 2024. All too soon to say.

I just need to be patient and pragmatic. Always a challenge for me….

Splish Splash

I have been giving myself some grief because walking at the end of the day has been too much for me. It’s too hot, I’m not enamored with my usual walking routes and a litany of poor excuses. I need to move my body during these summer doldrums, but how?

I really don’t like treadmills or bikes. Then I saw a neighbor at our pool do some basic water aerobics and EUREKA!! Holy cow – I just need to play in the pool.

I grabbed an ebook from my library, watched a few YouTube videos, jotted down some notes and the next evening after work, I jumped in the water. I had a blast. No equipment- I just move around. High knees, butt kickers, jumping jacks, treading water, a bunch of different kicks and arm movements. I stay in chest high water and keep moving.

One big takeaway from the book was to forget about counting reps – just change things up after each song. I have my waterproof headphones on and add an interval timer so I know when my 30 minutes is up.

One slightly disconcerting revelation is that my freestyle swim stroke sucks. I can’t swim very far with that stroke. Breast stroke is fine. I have goggles, but I really need to work on my freestyle.

All that aside, I am having fun. Yes, there are usually people at the pool, but I.Don’t.Care. It has taken me years to drop my self-consciousness, but now I really don’t care. Teenage girls – whatever, dad with his three sons – who cares? Hot, young guys – meh. I do my thing and guess what – they do theirs.

I come home, shower and relax. I am also enjoying my evening shower because the next morning I get ready much quicker.

I am so ready for my new gym to open because they offer water aerobic classes. I even have a swim cap, so let’s do it!

How Did You Meet?

It is time for my weekly Hump Day post where I write about dating, sex, romance and relationships from the perspective of a single, 55+ year old woman.

I am always curious about how couples met. I love a good Meet Cute story because I am truly a romantic. Plus my pragmatic side is informally collecting statistics to determine where I might best spend my time. Here are a few examples I have collected lately:

  • Bars – bars are a popular one. I had Happy Hour with a friend and she met her long-time honey while she was out with her girlfriends celebrating her divorce. That cracked me up. My bestie met her husband at a bar, but he pursued and dated her friend first. It is a long, very funny story that confirms that love triumphs.
  • Hiking club/hobbies– that is how I met HWINL. We went on several group hikes and he caught my eye. I always said that any man who saw me without makeup and sweaty and was still attracted to me is a winner.
  • Online dating – my daughter met her hubby on Tinder. A friend’s current honey came from Elite Dating. A high school friend met one husband through a dating site for military folks — she had a thing for military men. Former work friend, after a shattering divorce, met her current honey online and they are living together. Plenty of folks meet that way.
  • Unique situations – Same friend with the military preference, after divorcing the online guy, met her current husband in the Baghdad airport when he was being medevacked out (she’s a doctor). Another friend met a guy while crossing the Atlantic on the QEII. Each was traveling with their mother. They dated for quite some time after until the long-distance thing killed the relationship.
  • Introduced by mutual friends – I think this is a great way. My daughter has quite the matchmaking knack and is responsible for at least four marriages that I know of plus countless relationships. My manager was introduced to his wife by mutual friends. My son was introduced to his first serious girlfriend by mutual friends. I met my husband at a law school party I crashed when I got stood up on a date — my friends insisted that I join them rather than sit home and mope.
  • Work – a coworker met her husband at work and they continue to work for the same company. In my previous profession, it was commonplace for people to date either clients or coworkers. I, personally, always thought that was a dicey idea.
  • Through your kids’ activities – I wrote about this person before. She met her husband at the condo swimming pool because their kids played together.

How did you meet your significant other? Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a significant other — it can be anyone you went out with a couple of times. I love a good Meet Cute, so let me know!

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

Housing Crisis

I have been very, very lucky in my life. I was not impacted by the Great Recession, had a stable job during the pandemic, found a new, better job at the age of 57, got a mild case of Covid. Those are just a few examples that pop into my head.

Now I am facing a housing crisis. My rent will, without a doubt, increase by at least 30% if I move closer to work. Perhaps only 18%, if I don’t move.

With those numbers staring at me, I need to face the reality that I should buy something instead of renting. I don’t have all the money saved, but I am very close. Close enough that by slicing expenses, I will be fine.

I ran some rent versus buy scenarios. The New York Times has a good rent v buy calculator that I tend to prefer because they aren’t trying to sell me a mortgage. My future rent is well beyond the breakeven point of buying a place instead.

With money not an overwhelming impediment, I took a look at housing options. My criteria is preferably 2 bedrooms in a fairly tight geographic area. I don’t want a single family home — that is too much space and too much maintenance for me. I am watching home prices begin to slide downwards. That’s good, however, there is a very, very limited inventory. That’s bad.

Now that I understand the lay of the land, I need to map out my strategy and the necessary steps, because I do love a list. I have about four months, which is not a lot of time in my mind. Plus we are entering “season” when all the snowbirds flutter down which adds more havoc on the housing situation (IMHO). However, here is my basic list:

  • Finish my taxes. Yes, I got an extension for 2021 because I need to do a new form that TurboTax offers no advice on. Sigh. I pulled out the form and need to study it further. It is brand new and it will be the only time I need to do the stupid thing. Time to just get it done.
  • Once I have my taxes completed, I can get pre-qualified for a mortgage. I need to determine where I want to get a loan and get going.
  • Find a good residential realtor in my targeted area so I get some guidance and have someone with the right connections to find me perhaps an off-market deal. I have a couple of friends who can point me in the right direction.

It looks like a simple list, but we all know that there are lots of things inside each one of those items. Plus who knows if I will find something within my price range.

At this point, my price range is quite firm. I qualify for much more than I want. Most people qualify for big numbers. I want something I can pay off right about the same time as my retirement. The sooner I am mortgage-free, the better. I have been running numbers and a 20-year mortgage seems the most viable. I will be stuck with PMI for a little while, so my first goal will be getting that eliminated ASAP.

I do have a short-term Plan B. My bestie has a studio over her garage — more like an oversized guest suite. She has already told me I can live there if I run into a snag. I would put all my stuff in storage and camp out up there. It is a very generous offer and I may end up taking her up on that. Plus I have Plan C – going up to the NC mountains and living in my dad’s vacation home for a bit. There is also my daughter’s home which has a guest bedroom. Perhaps a combination of all three. Too soon to say.

For now, I need to execute my first step. Finish my taxes. I just went into TurboTax and the IRS webpage to find the form. The IRS says I can knock it out in about 3 hours. Boy, I hope they are right about that. The sooner I get pre-qualified, the better. Hopefully I remain a lucky woman. I should buy another lottery ticket….

Hunkering Down

If we are all preparing for a recession next year, will our preparation make it a self-fulfilling prophecy? I don’t know. I just know that I have been blissfully gliding along and spending money with abandon this year. Time to stop.

I spent about $4,000 redoing my apartment. I spent about $3,000 traveling. I spent about $2,000 on clothes, $2,000 on Smile Direct. The list continues. I am flinging money around while the stock market tanks and all my investments take a huge hit. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

The good news is that I still have zero debt. I pay as I go. My signing bonus paid for the apartment furniture. Yes, I have pulled from my savings, but my emergency fund is untouched. I am back to a regular savings deposit every pay day.

However, I have to get my financial house in order. Here are my most urgent pending items:

  • Finish my taxes. I filed an extension, but I need to get it done. I have some stupid new LLC form I need for my personal return. I need to download and print it so I can figure it out. Turbo Tax is no help.
  • I was suppose to get a prorated bonus based on our bonus plan. Somehow it got snagged up and I didn’t get it. My hiring manager was great about explaining to our VP that I should get it. I need to follow up with our VP. It is about $1500 to $2000, so that would be great.
  • I need to cut my discretionary spending down to almost zippo. I need to save every penny because I have a housing crisis looming. More to follow.
  • I need to rollover my 401k into my new company’s plan. I prefer to keep everything together for simplicity.

I have taken my eye off the financial ball. I need focus again. In September, I will get three paychecks. That third one needs to drop right into my savings.

In addition to my upcoming housing crisis, I will need a new car in about 3-4 years. I will need a chunk of change for that because I would love to not have a car loan. My personal cell phone and Ipad are five years old, so they may need to be replaced soon.

I need to be smart with my money. I did a tremendous job getting out of debt and saving throughout the pandemic. I have to be vigilant because my lifestyle creep is steady and real.

It is time for me to be focus on my money again. I need to be prudent, frugal and minimalist. I need to cut my expenses as much as possible (except for my fancy gym). Saving my $$ is key. That and a winning lottery ticket….

A Dating Story

It is Hump Day when I write about sex and dating as a 55+ year old woman. Today is mild and about another woman’s dating journey.

I have been chatting with various women I work with. Today I am sharing one’s dating story. For some reason, I am a person that people will confide in. I don’t share much about my dating life at work, but I do listen without judgment. All of you, Dear Readers, know much more than anyone else. LOL

This colleague is an attractive, curvy woman who is a little younger than me. She just finished a long marriage and is back on the dating scene. To get herself dating ready, she spent $5,000. Yes, $5,000 on a dating coach’s course. She was proud that she negotiated a $1,000 discount. She loved the course. I forget who she hired. Maybe an Aussie guy?

I was surprised that a) she told me this and b) she spent that kind of money on a coach. However, I understand where she is coming from. When I was newly divorced, I almost took a $3,000 Matthew Hussey course (I also negotiated a great discount). It was a long weekend in Florida. Between travel, etc. it would have been $4,000. I really wanted to do it and I had the money (I was flush at that moment), but I took a deep breath and bought his book instead.

I have also come to realize that these coaches typically only have one song to sing. If you watch their free content and/or buy the book, you have the melody. Granted, if someone is coming from a really messed up relationship or has some other issues that need to be addressed, perhaps these coaches are money well spent. I personally can’t justify the cost.

Back to my colleague. She tells me about the course one week and then shortly after, she tells me about her new honey. She has met this great new guy. He is The One. She is on Cloud Nine and she talks about the guy like they have been dating for an extended time. I tell her how happy I am for her and how long have they been together? Two weeks. They meet online. He lives about 45 minutes from her.

Lord, I hope I have a poker face. I hope my face did not drop or in any way pass judgment on her. I hope my jaded perspective of online dating does not pop out. I want her to be happy and in love. I also don’t want her to get hurt.

If we were besties, I might have a direct conversation with her. That will never happen in this situation. I don’t know her well at all. What would I tell her?

  • Two weeks is still the honeymoon. Slow down. Look for the red flags and address them immediately. Don’t push them aside.
  • Have you had a conversation about exclusivity? Don’t assume it. Have you checked his online dating profile to see if it is still there and is he active on the platform?
  • Have you Googled this guy to verify that he is who he says he is and he doesn’t have issues?

There is probably a lot more, but that is what popped into my head right now and in that moment. Sigh. I hope I am just being pessimistic.

I know that when I was newly single, living alone was a little scary. I am a naturally solitary person at times, but even I had moments of feeling lonely. Very lonely. Lonely is much different than alone. I also believe that learning to be alone is very important after a long relationship. You need to learn how to adapt to not having that person you reflexively reach out to every day. That is how you get stronger. My colleague seems like a strong woman. I hope so. My fingers are crossed for her.

What’s My End Game?

I am whipping myself into shape. In the past year I have lost 26 pounds, gotten LASIK, finishing up Smile Direct, my eye lash lifts, countless serums and lotions, major wardrobe overhaul. Why?

To feel sexy and attractive. Yep, for the first time in my life I am really focused on me and my body. I want to hit my 60’s looking fucking fabulous. I want to look as good on the outside as I feel on the inside.

For the first time in my life, I am prioritizing me. Just me.

Five years with HWINL (He Who Is No Longer) was spent prioritizing his hobbies, interests and none of mine.

During my 25 years of marriage, I prioritized my kids, husband and community. I gave everything I had to everyone else. Me Time was non-existent.

When I was growing up, I was constantly appeasing my mom who had undiagnosed borderline personality disorder. I have come to terms with our relationship. Before she passed, she told me how much she loved me and I know she did as best she could.

The pandemic years of 2020 – 2021 gave me the space and quiet to reflect and think about where I want to go, be, do. Fuck everyone else’s opinions these days. It feels great. I feel great. My weekends are my own – 100% mine. I do what I feel like doing. No more travel team sports (it was fun though), no sitting at home because that’s what HWNIL did. I am out and about. I am improving my home, doing my thing (golf, church, beach, walks and more). It’s all about me, baby.

My only concern is that while it is all about me, I have to also keep to my frugal guidelines. Less is more. Less stuff equals more time and money to do things. I also have to be open to letting people into my life. If I meet someone great, but for now I am on a dating hiatus.

I have another 20 pounds to lose. Yep, I am working on losing a total of 45 pounds. I think the last 20 will be integrated into a stronger body as I up my exercise routines. The gym I am joining is more of a social athletic club so I am hoping that it will combine both the exercise and social into one location. I have time to achieve all of this. It’s all about the journey.

Perhaps that is my end game – having a fabulous journey called life and living it to the best of my ability and focused on me. Now is my time and it is truly all about me.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Vacation Detour

Have you ever had a vacation that did not go as planned? I mean 75% of your plans go sideways or cancelled. I just had one and it was a test of my optimism. Of course, as the eternal optimist, I rallied, but geez. It was not what I had in mind when I packed my suitcase.

I made plans to spend the Fourth of July week up in the cool North Carolina mountains. My parents have a lovely house in a beautiful village. My son joined me. He and I did a mix of vacation and Work from Home so we could stretch our time in the cooler weather. My plans shifted from Day 1.

I was driving from South Florida, so I planned a fun stop in Savannah. I got a hotel in the historic area and planned on a great dinner with a little historic walkabout the next morning before hopping back in the car to wrap up my road trip. The drive started easy and I was listening to Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth on audiotape. I highly recommend the book.

As I approached Jacksonville, FL, my Savannah arrival time suddenly increased by two hours. Wait, what? No indication why. Suddenly Google maps decided it should take six hours to travel 120 miles. WTF?!

As I got into the no man’s land between Jacksonville and the Georgia low country, I spied some traffic congestion. I jumped off I95 to top off my gas and pee. BEST. DECISION.EVER. I later found out that up ahead was a huge accident – 2 fatalities, 12 injured. I95 (in both directions) was shut down for about 8 hours. My condolences to all of their families.

I decided that I was much smarter than everyone else and struck off to find an alternate route. The main alternate route was a parking lot in both directions. I knew I could do better, so I headed west with a small pack of 8-10 cars. Google was telling us about an amazing road that ran parallel to I95 that would be perfect. Google is a lying sack of shit. It was a dirt road.

Oh, and the rain decided to come down in sheets/walls of water. Zero visibility, small country road bordered by drainage ditches. The road itself was narrow and worn-out with water filled ruts. Did I mention the drainage ditches? That precluded the ability to pull over. It was raining so hard in such an out-of-the-way location that Google Maps said, “F#$k it” and quit working.

There was a 30-45 minute period (that felt like eternity) that tested my bravery. I was worried about hydroplaning, tractor trailers coming towards me on that narrow road, where the hell was I going, would my loved ones find me, etc. It was white-knuckled, heart-racing driving with a lot of cursing interposed with prayer.

Finally the rain stopped, going west ended up being the winning bet and I got back on I95 with only a 2-1/2 hour delay. Whew. I got to Savannah around 8:45 pm and after I checked into my hotel, it was too late for all the restaurants I wanted to explore. Savannah closes down early. I ended up at a lively Oyster Bar which was fun. At the bar, I met a nice guy who had been trying to drive south on I95, so we compared notes. Yes, he was age appropriate and very interesting, but just for a good conversation.

The next morning, I jumped back in the car and as I was gassing up again, my dad calls. He and my stepmom have Covid. They won’t be joining us. Good grief. Another change of plans.

I get to the cool NC mountains to discover rain was forecasted for virtually every day of my vacation. No tubing, little hiking – lots of mountain thunder storms that were epic. My son and I did visit Tweetsie Railroad, a childhood fave of mine. We were so silly and had a blast. Their July 4th fireworks were fabulous.

The night before my birthday, my body decided to rebel against two glasses of red wine. For my birthday, I woke to a full blown migraine complete with vomiting. Yea me! We postponed my birthday dinner for the next day.

It was simply one of those trips that making plans was inviting Karma to interfere. I did successfully work from home except the internet went out at 4:30 every day for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. I drove back in a single day and that drive was blissfully uneventful.

I have never had a trip where everything went sideways. It was weird. My son and I rolled with the punches, had some great laughs, good conversations and it was lovely working together. We both agreed we should do it again. Hopefully Karma is in a better mood.

I am hopeful Karma is done with her tricks because I am headed to the Jersey Shore next to spend a week with my daughter, son-in-law and delicious 9-month-old grandson. We have much to celebrate. Her decade of medical training will be complete and she will be joining the medical practice that scooped her up before she finished her residency. The next chapter of their lives is about to begin and we are all so excited.

Add in walls of water, drainage ditches, tractor trailers. Not so idyllic, right? LOL.
Photo by Douglas Fehr on Unsplash
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