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August 21, 2009

"Semper Gumby"

All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal's a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps!

- Aliens

A few days ago I related the daring manner in which The Love of My Life broke the news of an impending deployment:

You have to love a man who chooses his moment carefully... though I do believe that announcing (at 4:30 in the morning, no less) to a woman who hasn't had her first cup of coffee yet that his presence is urgently required in Afghanistan may be pushing the envelope. Brave men have died for less...

...though usually not while standing in the shower dripping with manly soap suds.

Over the course of a lifetime married folk develop endearing little routines, the strict observance of which prevents us from killing each other. Chief among these at Villa Cassandranita is: "Thou shalt not attempt to engage Thy Significant Other in conversation before 5 a.m." 5 a.m. being when the spouse departs for the five sided funny farm. By mutual agreement, unwary transgressors against this sacred dictum may be violated at will.

Of course even the most perfect rule requires a few common sense exceptions.

Allowances are made for innocuous phrases like, "Good morning, babe", "Did you sleep well?", "You were snoring again last night.", "Damn it all, I was *not* snoring!", "Yeah... you just go on believing that, babe...", and "Might I include a few cookies to go with the Spousal Sandwich?". When in doubt a simple rule of thumb applies. If formulating a response is likely to provoke dangerous activity in the prefrontal lobe, let it go.

It was with this rule firmly in mind that The Princess blearily stumbled into the marital bathroom in search of a hairbrush. As I entered the room, the shower stopped and the curtain was thrown back with a manly flourish to reveal The Spousal Unit standing in the full, lush glory of nature like unto Michaelangelo's David (only glistening with manly water droplets). Can there be a finer sight in all of God's creation?

I think not. I reached for his towel and handed it to him. Silently.

And then the unthinkable happened. That's right: he spoke. In my shock at this unwarranted intrusion upon my morning routine, I wondered for what would be the first of many times whether my esteemed spouse had been perhaps spending too much time in his nothing box? His words affected my vulnerable prefrontal cortex in much the same manner as 5 pounds of pre-menstrual water retention does the ambient temperature in the marital abode. At this point, I would love to tell Elise that the Star Stangled Banner began playing in my mind, uplifting my patriotic heart with a transformative wave of selfless love for God and country.

But that would be a lie. I stood numbly ... contemplating my spouse and the shattered remains of what - prior to that moment - had been an eminently satisfactory morning. And the first thought to enter my pea sized brain was,

"You know, you have no clothes on."

In my own defense I did not give voice to this penetrating insight, even though it ranks fairly high in the list of Allowable Utterances. As I stood rooted to the bathroom tiles, my prefrontal cortex buzzing with an alarming amount of activity, I heard (as from a great distance) the following words tumble out of my mouth:

"OK. So when do you leave?"

That is decidedly not on the list of Allowable Utterances. For some reason I will never understand, I then thought of the movie "Arthur". When our two freckle faced progeny were growing up, phrases from "Arthur" liberally peppered the familial lexicon. A well timed snippet of snark was the perfect interjection when some testosterone fueled instance of The Will to Power conflicted with my own natural and beautiful parental desire to lay waste to my childen's social lives. Specifically, I thought of this scene:

ARTHUR: "Do you know what I'm going to do?"
HOBSON: "No. I don't."
ARTHUR: "I'm going to take a bath."
HOBSON: "I'll alert the media."

ARTHUR: "Hobson... would you like to run my bath?"
HOBSON: [DRAMATIC PAUSE] "It's what I *live* for..."

"Perhaps you'd like me to wash your dick for you, you little sh*t."

I don't like conflict. It makes me unhappy. When my boys were testing me, those bolded phrases made the difference between erupting into a white hot fountain of matriarchal rage and being able to shrug my shoulders and say to myself, "Boys. Can't live with 'em and if you kill them some jackass always finds their little bodies..."

The truth is that I'm not sure there's a right way to deal with deployments:

The ugly truth is--I needed to fall apart before he left so I could be unwavering once he was gone. I needed to scream and cry and be angry before he ever got on that plane, so I could handle all our business once he was headed overseas. The idea that I could just blithely shrug my shoulders, say "Oh, well! See you in a year! Love ya! Bye!" is ludicrous. Maybe some people do it. God bless 'em. I'm not one of those folks. I needed to mourn the loss of yet another year of our family being intact before I could be the kind of mom who makes things feel almost normal.

I needed to think the horrible thoughts about what happens if he hurts himself just enough that he can't work his civilian job anymore all the way up to, what happens if people show up at my door in their Class A's? I needed to say it out loud and I needed also to hear myself say that I didn't know why I should believe we would be fortunate enough to miss out on that kind of crap sandwich. I needed to say out loud that I had absolutely no say in any of this. It wasn't my choice. I didn't enlist. I'm here against my will. I needed to make it known that if any of this horribleness did come to call, I tried to warn people. I tried to tell ya and yet, ya went ahead and raised your damn hand anyhow...because that's how you roll.

At this point I should probably mention that the joyous news of my impending celibacy came during a week when I needed to be 50 miles away by 8 a.m. every day and my Ukrainian friend was visiting from Seattle. All of which meant that I spent the next 3 days living inside my own head. I couldn't cry, or talk to anyone about it until we told his mother, or talk to him in the hour or so we have between dinner and bedtime. There just wasn't time and even if there had been time I was never far from tears. I couldn't trust myself.

But eventually I did cry a few times, locked away in my office where the dog can't nose me with his ice cold proboscis every 20 seconds to see if I'm OK. That supper dish doesn't magically fill itself, you know.

I felt very, very angry at times. And extremely put upon. I thought to myself more than once, "You know, just once I'd like to come to you and say, 'Yanno hon, there's something I really feel I need to do and it involves me leaving you in the warm embrace of the Energizer Bunny for a year.'" I didn't yell or scream or carry on. But that's not because I have better self control than Guard Wife. It's because our personalities are different: she knows what she needs to do in order to be strong and she copes.

So do I. We just do it differently. I think furiously, make a few plans, and stuff all those feelings down so far they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of seeing the light of day. And I know they'll come pouring out when it's all over and it's safe to acknowledge them.

We do what is needed. All of us.

I thought a lot about whether I should write about this deployment or not. Frankly, Guard Wife's essay convinced me it might help someone else going through the same thing for the first time. I admire her for having the courage to say what so many of us don't - that military wives are not superhuman heroines. We're very human, with all the foibles that state entails. Certainly it would be easier to sit back and bask in the warm glow of all that sympathy and even admiration.

This will be my fourth long deployment among scores of shorter ones. I made it through the others and even managed to enjoy the trip sometimes. And I think I'm a stronger person for being thrown (even against my will) back on my own resources for a time.

I think that's something we tend to forget - that most of the crap we deal with during deployments is crap we'd have to deal with anyway if we weren't blessed with partners who willingly shoulder some of the load when they're home. But the truth is, I can't think of too many things I've had to deal with that I wouldn't have had to deal with all the time if I were single. And that's without considering the whole celibacy thing, which would righteously suck.

In the end, this may be the prize hidden in the crap sandwich. Deployments are a wake up call - a reminder that things could always be so much worse.

They're a reminder that the cup of life - the one we so often think of as half empty - is actually brimming to overflowing. We just needed to look at it from a different angle.

I'm really going to miss not talking to him in the morning. But soon enough, I can not talk to him all I want. Life is good.

Thanks to Dave M for the Guard Wife link.

Posted by Cassandra at August 21, 2009 06:32 AM

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Rest assured, we will all be gazing at the chalice of life with you. Most, if not all of us, have sipped at that cup on more than a few occasions. The question I pondered during those times centered on who suffered more, the person leaving or the person staying behind.

The answer is, they both suffer for the greater cause in their own way. Time to start up another "short sheet!" You are not alone!

Posted by: vet66 at August 21, 2009 09:31 AM

Ya know, I can't help but think that the world would be a much better place showers had three knobs: "hot," "cold," and "coffee."

Posted by: spd rdr at August 21, 2009 10:02 AM

Then you guys would *never* get us out of the bathroom :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 10:16 AM

Oh yes, I love the Corps but then again, I think I have Stockholm syndrome...

Posted by: Was I issued? at August 21, 2009 10:34 AM

"Then you guys would *never* get us out of the bathroom :p"
Throw in a beer tap, a Lazyboy recliner, a stack of diverse periodicals, along with a big screen tuned to ESPN and FBN... We're right there with ya. =8^D

Posted by: bthun at August 21, 2009 11:01 AM

Yes, we like to call it The Library, or the Executive Washroom...

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 11:19 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/21/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by: David M at August 21, 2009 11:29 AM

I once spent a few nights in a lovely hotel, well appointed, and with the most lovely, friendly, and helpful staff. But I thought that addition of a flat screen tv in the shower was a tad overdone. What? I should miss something important between shamppoo and rinse? But it didn't take long for me to realize how much better a morning can be when you get to watch a half dozen monster shots leave the balllpark before you've even figured out the difference between the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash...as if it mattered.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 21, 2009 11:39 AM

Actually, Cassandra, Elise is even more impressed without that whole Star Stangled uplift transformation thing.

I'm sorry you're having to go through this but I'm also very, very grateful that you and your husband are willing to do so.

Posted by: Elise at August 21, 2009 12:21 PM

Heh :)

If you ever do meet me in real life, Elise, you will be *so* unimpressed :p

Trust me on that one!

OK, so today is Day 1 of my first deployment project: get in shape and lose a few pounds. I am sort of going back to an Atkins-like diet, since that how I ate for years without really thinking about it and if anything I had trouble keeping the weight on. Now all of a sudden I've been putting on weight.

I think it is the way I'm eating - I still hardly eat anything but I have been eating carbs and that seems to be something I cannot get away with for whatever reason.

I just ate two fried eggs for lunch. My soul is screaming for chocolate, but I stand firm in the face of Evil.


Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 12:39 PM

Cass, you can always check into my "Losing weight" posts and see what I've been doing and what tools (both physical & virtual) I've used. I'm right at about 45 pounds since the first of the year! I picked up my dress Tuesday and about freaked out because I couldn't zip it up all the way, but after stopping by the bridal shop after work yesterday, the seamstress has reassured me that she can let it out enough if it comes to that, but I still have 11 weeks until the wedding.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 21, 2009 12:50 PM

Good for you!

I'll certainly check it out, Miss Ladybug. I have never had much luck with diets. I am not sure why.

The only thing that has ever worked for me was just to say either "I'm not going to eat certain foods at all,", or "I will only eat certain foods under this circumstance". I just seem to be sensitive to sugar/refined carbs. Doesn't take much to make me start gaining weight.

On the other hand, if I just don't eat those things, I don't even have to watch what I eat at all (which is more practical given my personality). I do better with temptation if I just give it a very wide berth :)

However, I'll check out your posts.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 12:59 PM

Or you could order a extra large pizza with everything and then dedicate each delicious slice to your husband. Surely after 344 years of marriage you can find some familial comfort diving into an oversized, overstuffed polynesian pinapple and ham suprise!!

BTW, this advice does not apply to you, Ms. Bug. Tradition has it that you must look absolutely drop-dead georgeous on your wedding day. I'm certain that you will. Lucky fella.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 21, 2009 01:06 PM

Oh you are *so* going to pay for that one, mr rdr :p

That's just the way I like pizza, too - EVERYTHING including the kitchen sink on it! I order the works, but try only to eat a slice or so. I'd rather have it the way I want it than do without all the goodies. Fortunately I adore salad.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 01:10 PM


I wish I was the one getting married... No, I'm just a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding. Still, I'd like to look as good as I possibly can on that day, especially considering I likely won't have a date and I'm 10.5 years older than the one getting married...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 21, 2009 01:33 PM


I refuse to say I'm "on a diet". I'm "making a lifestyle change". I don't eat weird stuff. I don't say "no carbs!". I count calories, I calculate how many calories I'm burning (I exercise regularly, mostly walking), and cut accordingly. Once I get to a certain point from my goal, I'll have to modify how much I cut, and then when I reach my goal, I will still count calories and compare that to what I burn, I just won't have to cut anymore.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 21, 2009 01:38 PM

Oh. In that case, Bug, I'd suggest that you assist Cass in devouring that overloaded pinapple pizza. After all, she's cliaming that she'll only eat one slice. (Stop your snickering, Knave, or the Princess shall have your head!)

Posted by: spd rdr at August 21, 2009 01:45 PM

I admire you for being able to do that!

The only time I ever tried to count calories, I was only able to do it by joining Weight Watchers online and typing EVERYTHING into my account so they would keep track of it. That was after I suddenly packed on 40 pounds as a result of the daily migraine med I was taking.

Man, was that frustrating! I was running every day, lifting weights 3x a week and eating the bare minimum calories allowed and I STILL COULD NOT LOSE MORE THAN A POUND OR TWO.


Then I went off my meds (shut up, spd :) and lost 40 pounds in 4 weeks without dieting or exercising or anything. I do not recommend that method :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 01:45 PM

"Thou shalt not attempt to engage Thy Significant Other in conversation before 5 a.m."

I know a couple whose "before 5 a.m." caveat reads "on days that contain a vowel"...

Posted by: BillT at August 21, 2009 01:49 PM

The reason I'm trying the low/no carb thing is that I've never eaten very much for most of my life.

Consequently, I can cut calories down to nearly zero and it has no effect - I just don't need that many calories to keep chugging along. But if I change the things I eat, that seems to make a huge difference. I think it has something to do with hormones and all that, because I've had no trouble keeping weight off for the past 6 years or so even though I've eaten pretty much anything I wanted to.

I think (this is my theory anyway) that for women, hormones make a lot of difference in how our bodies respond to various things. And at my age your hormones change anyway - not much you can do about that except try to figure out what affects your internal chemistry.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 01:58 PM

No pineapple pizza for me... I'd much rather have a Meat Lover's or BBQ Chicken... And I'm NOT going to gorge myself on pizza any time soon. I don't want to end up being the old spinster sister that gets stuck caring for the aging parents by default because all my siblings have made families of their own (older brother not married, but the father of my year-old niece; oldest younger sister is the bride-to-be; youngest sister has a boyfriend of 1 year + and they are making place to co-habitat when her lease is up in November). Some days, it's really hard to not burst into tears at my situation...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 21, 2009 01:59 PM

After all, she's cliaming that she'll only eat one slice.

Ppppphhhhhhtttthhh :)

You can ask Carrie - usually I'm pretty good with the portion control!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 02:00 PM

Some days, it's really hard to not burst into tears at my situation...

I know it's hard, but keep smiling Miss Ladybug.

I have a lot of days when I want to run screaming into the lake behind my house. I know this sounds dumb, but a big smile can often turn the blues around. Plus, there's nothing guys love more than a happy woman and they rarely notice what's below the surface if they see a happy exterior.

Actually, that holds true for most folks, male or female.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 02:03 PM

But you say that from the perspective of already having what I so desperately want: a husband to love and to love me, and children... I have to face that fact that may never happen for me.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 21, 2009 02:11 PM

That's true, Miss Ladybug.

It is possible that it won't. Or your life could change unexpectedly one day and hand you everything you've been dreaming of.

There is no escaping tradeoffs in this life, and there are no guarantees. I have given up things I wanted desperately to keep my marriage intact. And for 30 years I've had exactly zero control over where I lived.

You are doing the right things. You don't need to lose weight to attract a man. Every day I see ladies who could stand to lose a few pounds (to put it mildly). But you are doing something to make you feel better about yourself and to make you healthier. So even if it doesn't reward you in the way you hope, it is worth doing.

And I know - I KNOW - from a lifetime of being around men that a big smile, confidence, and a happy demeanor have far more power than you think. I've seen guys walk away from beautiful women b/c their attitude was a turnoff. And I have known at least 5 men I can think of, off the top of my head, who married women they weren't initially all that attracted to physically and all 5 marriages have stood the test of time. 2 of them involved women your age.

So keep your chin up. I realize that this sounds as though I'm discounting your feelings, but the reality is that you can choose optimism and happiness or pessimism and despair. Only one of those attitudes, however, will improve your life.

When I start feeling bad about things I can't control, I try to remind myself how many folks have it worse than I do. Trust me - there is always someone worse off :)

Always. And when you look at life that way, things tend to slip into perspective.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 02:22 PM

"'Cause when you're smilin'
When you're smilin'
The whole world smiles
With yoooouuu!."

Miss Ladybug,
Just take it one day at time. Revel in the beauty of this day that the Lord has made for you. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

It's Friday, my mother in law is leaving after a two week stay, and it's a beautiful day in my neck of the woods (it finally stopped raining). What's not to smile about?

Maybe I'll put a beer tap in the shower this weekend. Or teach my Lab how to carry bottles up from the fridge to the bathroom. That's a happy thought.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 21, 2009 02:23 PM

Then, there is always this:


Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 21, 2009 02:26 PM

I suppose that if I could choose any private moment to enjoy just one time every week, it would be that first sip of an ice cold beer while standing in an outdoor shower after spending a long day on the beach. Please do not report this to mrs. rdr.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 21, 2009 02:48 PM

FWIW, I've met Miss Ladybug and she's quite attractive.

My preceding comment was meant as encouragement. What I was trying to convey was that there are many good men whose hearts and minds are in the right place, and fortunately there are also things anyone can do that will help you feel better regardless of whether they result in marriage.

Please try to remember that there have been women missing arms or legs or with facial deformaties who get married, and you have none of those challenges to overcome. It happens. So men are not all shallow, or only interested in a perfect 10.

Sometimes, it is just a matter of the right two people coming together. Don't give up on what you want, Miss Ladybug. And believe you deserve it.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 02:50 PM

What I was trying to convey was that there are many good men whose hearts and minds are in the right place.

Could you introduce me to them? I mean ones that are actually not married? 'Cause in all seriousness, I have met exactly one single man my age who wasn't a loser, and that one liked to smoke dope. The rest of the men I count as friends are wonderful human beings who treat me very nicely, compliment me (sometimes extravagantly) and from what I can tell seem to know that a good relationship and even a good romp do not require perfect packaging... oh, and they've been happily married for quite awhile. :P

Posted by: FbL at August 21, 2009 03:49 PM

Could you guys do me a favor and assume there isn't as much "edge" in that comment above as could be read into it? As I mentioned on my blog recently, I've been irritated with both halves of the human race these days. Which makes the whole race, I suppose... :P

I'm sitting here by myself, house-sitting someone's beach house, so I'm apparently letting it all hang out. :P

Posted by: FbL at August 21, 2009 03:52 PM

Don't let it all hang out for too long.


And you'll get Google-hits from Dubai...

Posted by: BillT at August 21, 2009 03:58 PM

Done, Fuzzy :)

There are good guys out there. I think part of the problem is that most guys don't go around thinking to themselves, "Dang. I sure would like to be married."

And men - the good ones - take commitment very seriously. I think they view marriage with a sense of responsibility that is different from the way we ladies view it. I think that is one reason they're less likely to decide they want to take that responsibility on, unless they feel they won't be trapped or will be taking on a job that's going to suck all the joy out of life.

That's why I said what I said about being happy.

Or at least giving off the impression you're happy (and I've found more often than not that if you act happy, you feel happier). If you give the impression that life with you would be *more* fun, *more* happy than life alone, that's very attractive to a man and is (I think) the thing that is most likely to move him from the "uh-uh" column into the interested column.

Women, on the other hand, tend to have this 'wait and see' attitude towards life. Sometimes, instead of assuming responsibility for our own happiness, we wait for someone to come along and *make* us happy. But no one can do that for us.

The guys I've seen fall in love with a woman who didn't necessarily bowl them over at first? There was one common factor: the woman was satisfied with her life the way it was, and the man almost had to coax her into the relationship.

That's why I said what I did, and like you I've been worried that it may have come across as being edgier than the way I meant it.

Typing in this little box is hard, sometimes!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 04:02 PM

My test as to whether or not things are bad is simple: if nobody's shooting at me, things are OK or better and manageable.

Posted by: I call BS at August 21, 2009 04:02 PM

The guys I've seen fall in love with a woman who didn't necessarily bowl them over at first? There was one common factor: the woman was satisfied with her life the way it was, and the man almost had to coax her into the relationship.

I suppose I do have that going for me... I WANT a relationship, but the fact that I am choosy and not the type to jump into the arms of the first guy who crosses my path makes me hard to convince. I put poor Bob (a few years ago) through the wringer. After I told him no, laughed off his suggestion and then and gave him several earnest reasons for doing so, he literally had to say, "No pressure. We might decide it works, we might not. We'll just have dinner and see where it goes." LOL! Poor guy. I didn't see it as giving him a hard time--I literally was unconvinced and fully expected him to backdown when I said so--but I guess i did...

Posted by: FbL at August 21, 2009 04:14 PM

Holy crap. Fourteen hundred and eighty-nine years ago I fell in love with the redhead that sat down next to me on an airplane. I never realized that I might have actually had a choice!

Fourteen Hundred and eighty-eight years later, mrs. rdr is still asking herself the same question.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 21, 2009 04:26 PM

Too many expectations will kill any possibility - relax, be yourself, don't let yourself get desperate, have more going on in life than your neediness for a significant other, keep yourself in decent shape physically and mentallyuse the brains god gave you, be interesting - have something besides yourself you can talk about, have outside interests, be well-rounded, give some of your time to someone or something outside of yourself, stay curious about life, learn something new every day or as often as possible, have self-discipline but don't be too hard on yourself, respect yourself and others will respect you ...

Posted by: I call BS at August 21, 2009 04:31 PM

Too many expectations will kill any possibility - relax, be yourself, don't let yourself get desperate, have more going on in life than your neediness for a significant other, keep yourself in decent shape physically and mentally, use the brains god gave you, be interesting - have something besides yourself you can talk about, have outside interests, be well-rounded, give some of your time to someone or something outside of yourself, stay curious about life, learn something new every day or as often as possible, have self-discipline but don't be too hard on yourself, respect yourself and others will respect you ...

Posted by: I call BS at August 21, 2009 04:31 PM

take yourself seriously - because you do matter - but don't take yourself TOO seriously, have a sense of humor, be able to laugh at yourself, don't take anything too seriously - life goes on within you and without you so bear in mind that the world doesn't revolve around you OR any one other person, have good personal hygiene , don't act like the silly pre-adolescent you once were, no excessive surrounding yourself with cutesy teddy bears and crap like that, you're a grown woman, act like it, don't be afraid of sex, don't cling to some dogma that someone told you you should cling to - think for yourself and if it still works along with everything else I mention then go with it, you're free to decide how you are going to live and don't let anyone else living or dead tell you how to live

Posted by: I call BS at August 21, 2009 04:38 PM

Holy crap. Fourteen hundred and eighty-nine years ago I fell in love with the redhead that sat down next to me on an airplane.

Well of course you did :p
Some things are meant to be.

I, on the other hand, sat right across from my future spouse for most of my senior year and didn't even notice him. And I mean *right* across from him.

He noticed me on the first day of school, but decided I was stuck up. Actually, I had just walked into the auditorium and was looking for my friends :p

6 months later, I was in the Senior room acting like a smart ass and he challenged me on something I said. I riposted, and we got into a back-and-forth. I noticed he was pretty smart and had a killer wit.

I was a goner before an hour was up but we didn't start dating for another month or so. So, you never know.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 04:45 PM

Criminy, when spd rdr mentioned the beach, it dawned on me that this is his usual time for a week at the Outer Banks, because it's his b-day (last week).
Congratulations, old man! What is it this year, 62 or 63? :D (the harem only makes you feel that old!)

I know it's actually your 39th birthday, for the 16th time. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 21, 2009 05:17 PM

"So men are not all shallow, or only interested in a perfect 10."

Sometimes, Cassandra, it's VERY hard to believe in this... although, my personal beef with the male species is their fright of the smart and independent women...

Posted by: olga at August 21, 2009 06:00 PM

Sometimes, Cassandra, it's VERY hard to believe in this... although, my personal beef with the male species is their fright of the smart and independent women

I think the thing that makes it hard for women to understand guys is that they can neatly separate love from sex in a way most women cannot. When you add that to the fact that they pursue us for sex, that can leave women feeling as though who we are doesn't matter.

It doesn't help when they tell us they don't like to talk and don't care about any of the things we care about.

As far as the smart/intelligent thing, I do not think we can ever totally get away from biology, there.

I don't think men are so threatened by a smart or independent woman. In fact, I think they like that. But what a lot of women don't understand is how integral it is to a man to be valued, respected, and - yes - needed. Not in a needy sort of way, but in a way that makes him feel appreciated for the qualities he values in himself. It's the flip side of our feeling that our intelligence and initiative are not appreciated: we need that. And men need to feel their strength and ability to provide are valued too.

It is a complicated dance, and it doesn't help that the partners sometimes speak a different language.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 06:46 PM

Nah. They just think trying to get a smart, independent woman to fall in love with 'em is too *challenging*.

I mean, it took me almost three whole *hours* to get KtLW to realize I'd be worthwhile chasing...

Posted by: BillT at August 21, 2009 06:48 PM

I think what I was trying to say is that if a woman is smart and independent, but can also make a man feel that she respects and values his masculinity, then her intelligence and independence enhance her value in his eyes. After all, it's harder to win a woman who is smart and independent than one who is not so bright and needy. With the second kind of man, he knows he did nothing to "earn" her respect.

What's hard about learning to do that for women is that guys never tell us what they need, and so we have to guess. And often if they don't get what they need, they put on a show of callousness and indifference that only confuses matters more.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 06:52 PM


[tapping foot]

I defer to the experts :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 06:53 PM

There are no experts, only beginners who repeat their lessons until they succeed.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 21, 2009 07:08 PM


Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 07:26 PM

Since when being smart and independent equals lack of respect for the man's masculinity??

Posted by: olga at August 21, 2009 07:42 PM

Holy crap. Fourteen hundred and eighty-nine years ago I fell in love with the redhead that sat down next to me on an airplane. I never realized that I might have actually had a choice!

That's a lovely story, as is Cassandra's. But you see, those stories go absolutely against the idea that it's not all about the packaging. Of course it is. :P

If not for the packaging, they wouldn't have hung around for that hour to get to know the object of their desire.

Frankly, sometimes I suspect that the best case scenario for those who don't fall for someone at first sight is that they eventually get over the fact that they're not physically attracted and so settle for them. Seriously. :P I've never heard someone say that "When I first met my wife I thought she was ugly, but then I fell in love with her and I think she's sexy." :P

Posted by: FbL at August 21, 2009 07:42 PM

I should clarify that last paragraph: People can fall for someone AFTER they've known them for awhile. But they know very early on whether or not they're physically attracted. So, it's not like they discover after seeing someone across the room for a month that they're worth pursuing.

Posted by: FbL at August 21, 2009 07:55 PM

I stared directly at "the packaging" for months on end, and never felt even a flicker of interest until I actually got to know my future husband.

And he noticed "the packaging" right away on me, but had no interest in pursuing me until we ended up on the same sofa in the senior room one day. Trust me, he wasn't trying to attract me :p

And the guys I referred to earlier all had a very similar experience - only after getting to know their wives socially or professionally did they become interested in them romatically.


It's a question of perception, I think. Men and women both treat the opposite sex the way *they* want to be treated. They often don't understand that this is not what the other person wants. A woman's "independence" is often perceived not as independence, but as "I don't need you". Given that neither men nor women have much control over the things that initially attract us, that can be a big problem. It can be overcome with effort.

But I don't think there's a whole lot of doubt that men and women often don't understand each other at first. FWIW, I would like to think that I am both smart and independent. And yet that has never been an obstacle in forming a relationship.

And if the "packaging" is everything, how do we explain men who fall in love with plain women, or women with physical handicaps? What happened to the "packaging is everything" there?

I think it's more complicated than that, and moreover I think most of it is just miscommunication and/or missed cues. But that's just my opinion - worth every dime you just paid for it :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2009 08:42 PM

I'm not sure guys work that way, Fuzzy. Sure, we're sometimes physically attracted to a woman we don't know, but even if we're not, when we find a woman is mentally engaging we tend to reassess. As Heinlein said, "All women are beautiful, some it just takes a little longer for a man to realize it."

Posted by: Pogue at August 21, 2009 08:49 PM

I stared directly at "the packaging" for months on end, and never felt even a flicker of interest until I actually got to know my future husband.

I'm the same way. We girls are different. ;)

Pogue, I appreciate the sentiment. And I even believe it. The sad thing is, I've never met any man under 50 who thought that.

Sorry, guys. Like I said, I'm sitting here in a beach house by myself. Sad thing is, the sky is as gray as the ocean and my spirit matches it today. I couldn't tell you why, if my life depended on it.

So much for being happy and upbeat. I don't know how to be that every single day. :P

Posted by: FbL at August 21, 2009 09:15 PM

Sorry for arguing with you guys. I'm just not having a good day... And considering I'm sitting in an empty house, I've got no one to argue with. :P

Posted by: FbL at August 21, 2009 09:34 PM

Yanno, Fbl, if you had a dog, a big honking slobbering dog, you wouldn't be alone in that beach house. You'd probably be down at the water's edge throwing some soggy tennis ball over and over and over again into the waves, and each time you best friend on earth would swim out and bring it back to you, and wag his tail like mad until you did it again. Just down the beach is another person throwing a ball into the surf for his own dog. and all you need do is throw Fido's ball down the beach in his direction. The mutts will take care of the rest.

You should trust trust me on this one.
I know a lot about dogs, and people.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 21, 2009 10:13 PM

that dog idea really works :o)
and for what it's worth, here is a ((hug)) from the East Coast :o)
that's the point: I do not "need" a man, I "want" to be with a man. Why this idea scares the guys is beyond me, unless they understand that 'want' means they have to actually, gasp, do some work to keep the relationship going...

Posted by: olga at August 21, 2009 10:25 PM

I needed to step away this afternoon: sometimes when this is the topic, it can get to me, and I was at the office; decided I didn't need to go there, especially considering I was going to be spending an hour with my sisters in the fitness center for our daily workout. After work, I had so errands to run.

Now, I'm catching up and obsorbing...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 12:35 AM

Cass (August 21, 2009 02:22 PM )~

I’m not saying there wouldn’t be trade-offs. I’ve enjoyed having a career (though what I have currently isn’t a “career” situation), but I think I’d be willing to trade for someone “to have and to hold, from this day forward, ‘til death do us part”, to build a home and family. I guess it comes down to which things you value more.

I know things could be worse. I may be underemployed, but I ate least have a roof over my head, food on the table, and for the time being, I’m able to pay my bills (and I made my final car payment last Friday, so that will help emmensely). But I also know that my life is very far from ideal. I dislike the fact that where I’m living now is because I have no other choice – I wouldn’t be able to find a place suitable for me and my pets that I even pretend to be able to afford. Any day I take as a day off is a day that I don’t earn a paycheck: I have no benefits – no vacation time, no sick time, no medical coverage. I haven’t had anything resembling a vacation since I moved back to Texas in December ’04. Yes, I went to the Milblog Conference, but that wasn’t a “vacation”. I’d already bought my airline ticket when I was informed my hours were being cut at my contract job, so I decided to go ahead and spend the money on the hotel and conference registration. I needed to get away, even for a weekend, for my sanity…

I understand what it’s like to feel like you have no control over things in your life. I thought I was making a smart decision when I decided to go back to school and earn my M.Ed. In retrospect, maybe not so much. I’ve got $20k+ in debt I didn’t used to have for school and expenses that didn’t go away even though I didn’t work at all the last 7 months I was in school, and post-graduation (December 2006) I’ve been nothing but underemployed. My savings is all but wiped out, unless I – God forbid – have to take the last of my IRA, and then I’ll really be up Sh*t Creek with no means of propulsion. I don’t know what I would have done it I hadn’t been able to work full-time over the summer (and just because I’m working full-time doesn’t mean I’m fully employed – I now hold a M.Ed, for God’s sake, and I’m not making up maybe a little more than half of what I was making when I left Arkansas). I can’t seem to get a job interview in my chosen field if my life depended on it. I’ve got what I think is a damn good resume and cover letter, but my efforts to get my foot in the door through substitute teaching over the last two and a half years have been for naught, even though I was – for a while, at least, until I couldn’t even get a TA job – a substitute of choice for one particular group of teachers at a particular school. I was good enough to be their, but apparently no good enough to be on staff as a teaching assistant. After that, the job that was paying the bills required me to not spend much time subbing, that is until my hours got cut this past spring. So, here I am, not making enough money to make it on my own (thank God for my parents), not yet prepared to throw away the last 4.5 years of my life, and all the money and effort I put into my Masters degree, but also wondering how long I can go on as I am. I just can’t seem to figure out what it is I’m doing wrong, so I don’t know what to fix to try and change things for the better. It just seems that there is more wrong than right happening in me right now.

Yes, I am doing some right things. I am exercising regularly and I am paying attention to what I’m eating. I’ll do my next “official” weigh-in in the morning, so I’ll have a new “total lost” figure. I think this past week is going to be a good one, at least. If I wasn’t losing all this weight, I’d be in a very bad place right now… I’m no longer totally embarrassed by how I look in photographs. I don’t have to work as hard to get a decent photo for my various profiles I have on the internet for “the real me”. I do see women more overweight than I ever was who have significant others, and I wonder what the hell it is that keeps me alone. A friend of mine – he was a pen pal of mine when he was deployed for the Constellation’s last deployment – thought as you do, that I gave off some negative vibe. I had the opportunity to meet him when I business trip took me out to southern California. I drove down to San Diego, and he and his family took me to dinner at that Brazilian steakhouse in the Gas Lamp District. He later told me that he and his wife talked about it, and they decided I didn’t give off any negative vibes… Yes, I will admit that I’m not always sunshine and roses, but I also am not going around constantly moping, either.

Guys might walk away from a beautiful but b*tchy woman, but I am willing to bet they put up with it for longer than they should have because of what she looked like. Whenever I’m out and about with my sisters, guys aren’t looking at me, the pushing-40 overweight one, but the 20-something thin and pretty ones. Oh, and I’ve mentioned that my soon-to-be brother-in-law was born only 6 months after me, right? That makes him 10 years her senior. Don’t get me wrong, I like him, and he’s been “family” for years already, but what does that say to a girl like me – or FbL or Olga – when guys that we SHOULD have a shot with instead go for much younger women. My other sister – the one who won’t be 25 until December – is dating someone 8 years older. Keeping my chin up all the time after all these years of repeated disappointment can be very hard sometimes…

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 03:10 AM

Don, thanks for the song. It did bring a smile to my face this afternoon. It's Saturday now. I spent the evening running errands and have yet to go to bed. Tomorrow, I go to my 3 year old second cousin's birthday party, and then I'm going to my sister's apartment to watch "17 Again" and to start re-acquainting their cats with me, since I'm going to be pet-sitting while they are on their honeymoon. I look forward to that, because I'll sorta have a place of my own for a week.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 03:15 AM

Thanks for the compliment, Cass. When we met, I'd already dropped nearly 30 pounds. No offense, though, but I didn't notice that I was turning any heads that weekend. Still being the fat girl, on top of being quiet and shy - which is just the way I am - apparently isn't good enough. And I know there were single men in attendance that weekend.

I do believe I deserve it. I just can't figure out why I don't already have it. I've tried joining singles groups through church. I've participated in activities with co-workers outside of the office (parties, recreational softball). We won't talk about "dating" sites. Yeah, I'm trying to improve my social life with things I can both afford and enjoy, but I'm not aware of any "eligible bachelors" at the Legion Post I go to. I will make small talk with fans out at the baseball games when I'm working.

Again, I'm with FbL. Can someone PLEASE introduce me to these "many good men whose hearts and minds are in the right place"? The ones not already spoken for? I used to joke that all the good ones were either taken or gay. It's not so funny anymore... I don't expect that just because someone gets introduced to me that sparks will fly and I'll get to live happily ever after, but I'm not getting introduced to anybody, period, so the odds are stacked against me. However much I'd like to be married, I don't think it's necessarily smart to be picking out china patterns when you first meet someone...

I guess the impression I give off has a lot to do with where I am and what I'm doing.

And the fact that I am most definitely NOT satisfied with my life right now? Guess that means I'm really screwed, because school starts Monday and I still don't have a teaching job. Getting a teaching job would go A LONG WAY towards making me satisfied with my life: getting some fulfillment out of what I do to earn a paycheck. Unless some positions unexpectedly come open next week, and miracle of miracles, I get called for an interviews and subsequently offered a job, I'll be in a holding pattern for a teaching job until next year's job fairs, which start around April... I will say that I am no longer waiting to get that first teaching job before I start trying to build a new social circle, which is one reason I joined the Auxiliary at the Legion...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 03:49 AM

I do think I'm like FbL. I WANT a relationship, but I'm not going to date just anybody, just to have one. Not that I've even had a chance at a relationship in Lord knows how long. I can survive without a man, but life would be so much better if I had someone to share it with...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 03:53 AM

My beef would probably be that men seem to expect sex in a relationship, pre-marital. But, I know me. My decision to not sleep with a man who is not my husband is a form of self-protection. I know myself well enough to know that I equate that act with "forever", but also know that for many men, they AREN'T thinking "forever" when thinking about having sex with someone. Given today's society, and how extramarital sex seems to just be expected these days, where does that leave a more traditional girl like me, especially considering I believe I fall into the smart/intelligent and independent categories...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 04:01 AM

Oh, and I most definitely appreciate/respect/value a man's masculinity. If you knew who my fantasy date was, you'd have no doubt about that...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 04:05 AM

FbL at August 21, 2009 07:42 PM

But you see, those stories go absolutely against the idea that it's not all about the packaging. Of course it is. :P
If not for the packaging, they wouldn't have hung around for that hour to get to know the object of their desire.

Amen, sister...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 04:06 AM


What does it take for you to figure out us plain girls are mentally engaging and worth re-assessing??

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 04:08 AM

I have dogs. They'll be 13 next month. I tried taking them to the park. They don't do leashes, I can't trust them to not run off, and they puke in the car... Oh, and my dogs ganged up on one of my parents' dogs that first year after I'd moved back to Texas. The vet bill for my parents' dog cost me over $400. After that, I also can't trust my dogs not to get dangerously aggressive, and they are too big for me to be able to pull them off... I could use Cesar Milan's help...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 04:13 AM

Okay, I guess I'm out of things to say, and it's WAY past my bed time...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 22, 2009 04:15 AM

Miss Ladybug - the biggest thing is for a woman to be happy with who she is. It doesn't really matter where the journey is going, if you're enjoying yourself on the trip someone will want to come along.

Posted by: Pogue at August 22, 2009 08:56 AM

Miss LB, your recitation of the challenges you face in life in general right now sound so much like I did 18 months ago (made my heart hurt 'cause I SOOOO know where you are and how much it can wear on you). Of course the romantic side of my life hasn't improved, but the employment/education issues sure have. Hang in there. I honestly thought it would never change, but it finally did. You're smart, tenacious and educated; it'll turn for you eventually, too. I know--from experience!--that it sucks big giant rocks right now, but there's no way it'll be forever (and you'll probably hate me for saying this, but I suspect a part of trick for you to get out of the situation--as it was for me--is to find/maintain a ferocity of mind that refuses to believe the subtle and overt messages about yourself that your situation is trying to send, and that's complicated and hard).

Pogue, that's another lovely sentiment. This one I might actually believe is accurate. ;) Seriously, I think there's a lot of truth to that. I gotta say I'm enjoying the trip a lot more in the last 18 months than I did in the previous couple of years, though that has yet to bear fruit on the romance front... (was that a mixed metaphor? :P )

Posted by: FbL at August 22, 2009 09:33 AM

Miss LB,
Have you thought of private tutoring??

Posted by: olga at August 22, 2009 01:55 PM

one way to "give some of your time to someone or something outside of yourself" is to get and take care of a dog - you'll be surprised how friendly dog-owners are - they like people who like dogs

Posted by: I Call BS at August 23, 2009 01:46 AM

To whom are you addressing that statement, BS? FbL does a lot for "someone or something outside herself". I don't know Olga, really, but what I do know of her, I think she does as well. I know I try to, also. That's why I do troop-support stuff, lately primarily through my involvement with Soldiers' Angels and a little through the American Legion (I've participated in all of the Post's "service project" events since I first went to the Post back in March). I'm also a dog owner, but I need professional help to address my dogs' potential aggression (they'd never been aggressive that I had observed until they took a dislike to my parents' dog, which happens to be one of their litter mates...) and tendency to not come when called if they happen to get loose, outside of the fenced backyard. My being a dog owner doesn't help me meet people.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 23, 2009 02:26 AM


I doubt I'd be able to make enough to replace what little income I have now through private tutoring. I just don't think - especially considering self-employment issues I don't current have - I could charge enough for the service to make it worth my while, especially considering the state of the economy. It would be the more affluent that would be my potential customers, and even they have to mind their budgets a lot more right now.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 23, 2009 02:37 AM

I'm sorry that both of you have to go through this, Cass. Thank you, both, for enduring it.

To the single ladies ... I don't really know what to say (I suppose I should start by saying I've been attached for a 25 year engagement and then 11 years of happy marriage, (long story not typed)); don't look for "The One", look to being happy with yourself, and noticing who's around.

Spice & I went to a couple's 20th wedding anniversary that we'd gone to college with. Fun. Circulating, that bride congratulated me on our "finally getting legally hitched!" and asked if I'd noticed that I'd never had a date with any of the other women from the dorm we'd lived in. "Uh, no? True, though!" "It's because we all knew you and Spice were destined for each other." "We argued about everything!" "Yes, and both of you took every possible opportunity to start another argument." "But ..." "Look, you stood at the front desk, arguing with her, and opened the door for all of us. You smiled, flirted, a perfect Marine watching and wanting the girls. We all loved it. But when you opened the door for Spice, you looked like you were opening the door for a goddess! We knew we had no chance."

It was a little over two and a half years from the time we met to our first date. We still bicker over everything. I have never regretted being with her. I see what could be temptation, and remember her laughter ....

I hope you're as lucky, I really do.

Posted by: htom at August 23, 2009 11:54 AM