August 28, 2011

Usernames - Choose Wisely (Collected Peeves From The Bad Behavior Support Group)

I have a group of lady friends with whom I share a meal at least once a month.  We gather in a local eatery (no chains.  Call it an effort to keep our cash local.) to catch up, crack jokes, banter back and forth, and eat more than some third world children could ever dream about.  The most recent topic has been several of our experiences and frustrations with dating.  Some of us are divorced, some of us have never married, and I'm pretty sure at least two of us aren't unfamiliar with polyamory.  We have varying levels of give a shit, desire to be talked nerdy to, and experience with life, love, and everything else.  We are each our own pretty fucking self rescuing princess, and this is why I love the ladies of the Bad Behavior Support Group.

One of our more cautious friends was expressing her concern over some messages she'd been getting from a guy or two online.  They just...  Well, the words were there, but the feeling "this guy might be trying to pull one over on me" was strong.  She asked our opinions.  That was what really opened the door to the discussion of what irritates us, or we'd wish would be different.

First impressions are different online than they are in person.  They have to be.  So, here's something to think about.  Choose your username wisely.  You can't change it later, and if you've invested time, effort, and a piece of yourself into your profile (which you should do anyway) you don't want to have to start over if you end up hating your username.  Here's another thought.  What if your moniker isn't all that appealing to the people you're trying to meet?  I mean, who really wants to meet up with a guy who chooses to call himself StinkyPeteXX?  That conjures up thoughts of way too much time in the mountains or remote cabin in Montana and patchouli as a substitute for soap.  That, or you were the comic relief on Bonanza.  Either way.  First impression?  Pass.

Innuendo is great.  Flirtation gets my motor runnin'.  However, if I get a message from someone who chooses to represent themselves with a name like "lilmissle" I'm going to think twice.  Really?  A dick joke as your identity?

Next in the progressively panic inducing lineup is any username that's your name plus your city.  PhilbertInAustin?  Wow.  You're such an original.  Come on, there's more to you than that.  There HAS to be.  It makes me think that you've been captured and under military interrogation where you're only going to provide your name, rank, and serial number. 

Next up, using the numbers 2 and 4 as words.  Examples to include: PrinceCharming4U, Looking4Her, or Ready2Settle.  We're not trying to come up with a witticism for a license plate here.  You're not limited to 7 characters and 1 number. 

As a corollary, if your first impression screams "I WANNA GET MARRIED" which a name like Ready2Settle does, many of us are going to run screaming for the hills.  (That would include me, FYI.)  That would be like us approaching you and saying "OH MY GOD.  MY BIOLOGICAL CLOCK IS SO LOUD!  FUCK ME NOW AND MAKE MANY BABIES WITH ME!!!!!"  Yeah, see?  Scary.

The point I'm trying to make is, please, put some thought into how you want to appear.  It's not unlike taking off the baseball hat, showering, pulling a comb through your hair, and putting on a nice shirt to meet someone in person for the first time.  Did I forget to say please?  Ok, once more for good measure.  Please?

August 27, 2011

The Awkward Decline of "So, What's New?"

I have a friend who was, due to a storm-related loss of power, locked out of their house until some ungodly hour in the morning.  Another friend who, due to medical bills revolving around a late term miscarriage and a messy breakup, is being audited by the IRS.  How do I know these things?  Social media.  And while I love being able to stay in touch passively with all the people in my life, I feel a little creepy starting a conversation with "So, I saw on facespace that XYZ happened to you last week."  It almost feels like I'm stalking their mailbox, or going through their trash before the garbage crew comes by to pick it up on trash day. 

Maybe it's just me, but it sounds odd to my ears to start a conversation with "So, I saw you posted something online about your herpes." or some other personal fact.  I've got the same hangup about looking through my friends' online portfolios whether they're photography, blog posts, or sketches.   It just feels...  Creepy.  Here's the thing, rationally, I know it's a long way off.  If anybody knows creepy, it's myself and my Bestie, Propecia Louise (Who, despite being an admin on here, has yet to write anything.  Let's all shun her now.  Shun.  Shun!)

If it's posted online, people want you to look at it.  I know this, and yet.  Yeah, still feels like I should be in a panel van or something.

My point is, I'm still going to be archaic and ask a person how they're doing or what's new, even if it's plastered all over their social media page.  It seems to me that shows more genuine interest in them than just saying "So, I read about your being carjacked.  That sucked.  Can I grab a beer from your fridge?".  Maybe it's odd. 

It's quite possibly going to show my age.  You might think me crazy.  Well, maybe so.  But it's not like I need a time out with the I Love Me jacket.  Humor me, will  ya? 

The Birth of Ephemily

So there I was, sitting in a scalding hot bubble bath, reading Jim Butcher's Ghost Story and simultaneously thinking about shoes.  (I multitask for a living, for me this sort of thing is normal.)  It occurred to me that I've come a long way from the unhappily married tomboy with no discernible gender and an "I give up" haircut from a few years ago.  That thought was what led me down the path to Ephemily's origins. 

The year was 2009, and a great convergence was upon me.  At the tail end of an emotionless marriage, trying to figure out a way to afford a divorce (debt consolidation plan or bankruptcy?  Turns out, the chapter 13 would have actually been the better option.  Live an learn, right?)  My ex, his girlfriend and I were all sharing the same roof, and I was finally starting to live for myself for the first time in, oh, ever.  (My opinion about marriage, and relationships in general is that it's more about Us than Me.  Thing is, that only works if both parties play out of the same rulebook.)

August 19, 2011

FICO score, shmico score. Adventures in post-bankruptcy car buying .

In a nod to Abbot and Costello, we’re going to play a game of vehicular who’s on first.  I have shit credit, plain and simple.  This hasn’t always been the case.  I was able to buy a brand spanking new Mazda Milenia S without a cosigner when I was 22 years old.  It was my first new car, and I loved it.  At the time, my FICO score was 725, and I was proud of that.  However, between then and now, a few things have changed.  I have since been married and divorced.  I was unemployed most of 2007 and living off credit and optimism.  My ex-husband I and I did some major home upgrades by installing new siding and windows, to the tune of about $20,000 in 2009.  Somewhere in that time, we decided our marriage had run its course, and needed to dissolve the union.   In order to try and afford a divorce, we sought help from Credit Advisors thinking it would be better than bankruptcy.  Oh, how wrong we were. 

During the course of our repayment plan through them, they weren’t able to reduce any of our interest rates (which they said they could do) they made late payments on many of the accounts (which we hadn’t been doing prior to signing up with them) and they got us kicked out of one of the credit card’s debt relief plans for slow payment (Wasn't the point of paying them their fees to avoid this kind of thing?  Their entire business is to make these payments and charge customers for the pleasure.  Why is the a benefit to us if they can’t manage to fulfill that, exactly?).  

In the end, it came down to this; in April of 2010, we filed a joint Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  In May, we went before the court and the garnishments began.  Last year, in 2010, our divorce was finalized.  Once he and his girlfriend moved out of the house (long story) I started work on making that go away using any means possible.  That ended up with my stopping sending mortgage payments to my bank in November of 2010.  (That’s about the only way you can get their attention, sad to say.)  Luckily, between now and then, I’ve managed to get my house 80% sold.  The short version of how that’s supposed to work is as follows:   (If you’re curious, or are thinking about trying for a short sale/deed in lieu, you can follow that train wreck here, here, here, here , here,  here, here, and here .)  I’m waiting on final approval from the bankruptcy court and a closing date on the sale.  The end is in sight with regard to my house.  My car saga, on the other hand, is just beginning.

On November 4th 2008, election day to be exact, I took delivery of Donovan, my Mellow Yellow MINI cooper.  At the time, bankruptcy was still in the future, and I signed a 12k mile a year lease.  My ex had this thing with needing a new car every time he turned around, so long term loans were a problem.  Plus, he used to work for the same dealership when they sold Fords, so he “knew a guy” that could work out a pretty good deal on my little car.  I don’t think you could peel me off the ceiling for months after I signed those papers.  I still love my car.  But, here’s the thing.  My lease is up this year, and my bankruptcy has 3 ½ years before it’s discharged.  Financing anything between now and then is going to be a chore.  Well fuck me sideways and pull my hair.  Here we go again!

First of all, let me tell you about Russ.  He and I have been in touch on and off since I got the car.  He was the finance guy on the original deal, and knows my ex.  I make it a point to stick my nose in his office when I stop in for service on a Saturday just to say hello.  He’s a good guy, and I have nothing but positive things to say about him.  He and I have been chatting occasionally about what my options will be at the end of my lease.  He knows exactly how rough my credit history is and that to get me into either a lease buyout, or a new MINI is going to be a challenge.  And yet, he’s very positive about it, telling me that we’ll make something work.  The willingness to take the stress off my shoulders and work for and with me is reassuring. Not that I can’t make my own rain, so to speak, but being able to share the burden and the silliness of that raindance is nice now and again.  I’m much more peacock feather than eagle when it comes to hair pretties.  

Anecdotes and accessories aside, here’s where we are.  A few weeks ago, I stopped in to have some work done on the car.  I had a indicator on saying I had a light out, and wanted it looked at before the service contract expired.  While I was there, I walked the lot to see what was new.  I hadn’t had a chance to see the new countryman up close much, and I was curious what my options might be for a replacement vehicle.  I popped in to talk to Russ, thinking it would be a 5 minute “don’t forget, I’m going to need a car here soon”.  It turned into a discussion about a green 2011 car they’d taken out of their loaner rotation they were selling for a few grand off.  Since that point, I’ve gotten a credit app from my dad since I’m going to have to have a cosigner, and we’ve talked about at least two other cars.  (The green one wasn’t going to work, sad to say.)

Now, in this mix I’ve worked with a salesman by the name of Sean (pronounced seen) about a deal, and have chatted about all number of things.  The most interesting has to be his own ideas about filing for bankruptcy and the fact that he teaches ballroom dancing in his spare time.  Why hello there sir, need a new student?  *leer*.  Sean has also been a joy to work with.  I know they want to make the sale, but there’s a difference between pushy and being a people person who’s good at your job.  He’s been in contact with me frequently about getting a credit app from my dad, since we both know I’m going to need some help on the finance end.  That’s where the trouble came in.  After my dad got it to the dealership, somewhere along the line another guy by the name of Bill got involved.  I get this call from him saying that until my bankruptcy is discharged, there’s not a bank in the world that will offer financing.  *sigh*  Ok, I get it. My situation is challenging, but that’s just not true.  

I can understand how, since Markel is a luxury brand, they might not handle situations like mine all that frequently.  Thing is though, more and more people are going to be like me, so perhaps it’s a good idea to at least know how it’s done.  Telling someone there’s no way they can work a deal is going to lose them customers.  Maybe not customers they want, but you know me.  Knowledge is power, right?

I’ve since called my bank, other dealerships, and even my ex to ask if they have an option for me.  The good news is it seems like I’ll be able to make something work.  My bank seems to be willing to talk to me with a co-signer as the primary borrower.  My ex’s dealership has said there’s a way they can work the deal.  And I still have Russ working with and for me to make a deal happen.  The real question is where, how much, and what my interest rate is going to be.  Some how, some way, I’ll still have a car at the end of the year.  For now though, the exact means to that end are still up in the air.  I’ll keep you posted.

August 10, 2011

Child-Free Dating

There was once a time when a woman who was staunchly against having children, drank beer, and actually knew the rules to college hockey would have had a hard time finding herself alone on a Friday night.  Once upon a time this post wouldn't have begun with a fairy tale opening.  Times, they are a changing.

The childfree woman, once the mythical unicorn, is now finding herself a little harder to date. Maybe it’s just the ladies I run with, but as I look around, more and more of us are choosing to remain childless late into their 30s.  Certainly, there are those who still chase the American dream of a house, a dog, a minivan, and 2.5 kids.  But, for those who want to focus on their own lives, and the lives of their partners, they’re finding resistance in their paths.  Take, for instance, 4 or 5 years ago when the local news here in town ran a story about the phenomenon.  Many women chose to speak up only under the condition of anonymity.  They were afraid that those around them would judge them for their opinions; call them selfish or maybe even *gasp* fire them from their jobs.  If this is their fear at work, I can only imagine their trials and tribulations in dating.

For the record, I’m one of those women.  Well, not the fearful ones.  My reproductive habits and ambitions are my own, and no employer is privy to them thankyouverymuch.  But, I am part of the growing population of women who are not driven by their biological clock and have no desire to have children.  I’ve gone so far as to be medically sterilized.

Believe me, I’m not regretting the decision.  What I am is frustrated that this immediately takes women like myself off the table for a good number of men.  I’ve had friends tell me that the moment they said to a suitor that they don’t plan on starting a family, suddenly he had something he forgot about, had to cut things short, and was never heard from again.Whoa!  Since when did Nature start equipping those of mixed chromosomes with a Biological Clock too?  And whatever happened to dating the person, not their future spawn?  Why on earth is it so common to talk about kids over your first in person sip of coffee?  Guys, really.  Cool it.  You’re scaring... well, me, I guess.

Maybe we’re (those friends mentioned previously)  just fish out of water when it comes to the dating pool here.  The Midwest doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being progressive like that.  So, in an effort to get some perspective, I ran this by my roommate.  He offered some interesting insight in that he says despite knowing he’s not in a place where he could support another kid, he still has a compulsion to find a fertile woman “just in case”.  I wish I understood that more than knowing that it was English he was speaking.

I don’t now, nor have I ever understood or felt the need to reproduce.  I have some opinions that are met with revulsion or confusion, and a back and pelvis that aren’t suited for the job.  Add on top of that, the fact that I have no family medical history (Mom was adopted in Germany, I was adopted myself, and she never told the father he was a dad.) and my genetic line ends with me.

What makes me both chuckle and shake my head at the same time is the fact that, in all the stereotypes, it’s the man who doesn’t want kids, and will run at the first hint that a woman does.  In this case, it seems to be the other way around; that the men, upon hearing I’m fixed (but not declawed!) are no longer interested.  I suppose this is going to severely limit my dating pool, and I know this.  Thing is, it’s one of those very few things that I’m not willing to compromise on because it involves more than just *my* life.  It would impact the life of another human being, one who didn’t ask to be a bargaining chip.  I’m pretty up front with my preferences, abilities, and conditions.  I’m not going to lie to someone about it.  Heck, since it’s been on the Internet, there’s no denying it, it’s there forever.  If it means I have to wait a little longer, or snuggle with my fat dog and skinny horse at night instead of some intellectual Adonis a little while longer, I guess that’s how it’s going to be.

August 9, 2011

Dirty Laundry List

Lately, I’ve had dating on the mind. Well, maybe not so much dating as all the near misses I’ve had in the last year.  I think it might have something to do with my sister having her first baby, and seeing her just aglow with emotions I didn’t even know existed.  I’m feeling a little left out, to be honest.  Yes, I know.  I’m a horrible person to make this happy moment about me.  We all do it, and this is why there’s a killing to be made in therapy private practice.  Indulge me.  This is cheaper than sitting on a couch for 50 minutes.

I adore my oddball life.  Stem to stern, I like who I am.  But, I’m kinda tired of living it by myself.  Sure, over the years, I’ve had some special moments.  I’ve been someone’s first love, first lover, a dream girl, a childhood crush who swam out of memory larger than life, and the one who got away.  I’ve been a secret keeper, a mentor, and inspiration to look to on how to maintain during dark times.  I value all of these experiences and their ability to teach life lessons.  However, if I may put on a cardboard pity party hat for a moment, it doesn’t help me feel less alone.

So, I’ve been looking.