Life is Short, Eat Pie First

Yesterday I had to say good bye to the nicest, kindest, handsomest, funniest man you’d ever hope to meet.  And the most modest too.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anyone who ever met him, because he certainly told them at least twice.  Uncle Dan was my Grandpa’s brother.  Most people don’t know who their grandparent’s siblings are, but Dean and Dan were good friends as well as brothers.  Uncle Dan was there for most of our family holidays, birthday celebrations, and the near-monthly family get togethers of one kind or another.  Grandma and Grandpa’s families became so close over the years, that when Grandpa’s oldest sister passed away almost 5 years after Grandpa died, Grandma was asked to help make the arrangements since Zelda didn’t have any children.  After 47 years of marriage and most of a lifetime in a small town with each other’s siblings, the lines between blood and in-laws just didn’t matter any more.  So when I tell people who Uncle Dan was to me really, most people give me a confused look and can’t understand why I’m mourning his loss like my Grandpa died again.  To me it’s my favorite Uncle who’s passed away.  Nevermind that we’re too far removed to be considered immediate family.

Uncle Dan taught us kids so many lessons in life.  Always be the one who started it, that way you can be sitting back laughing when the others are getting in trouble for being rowdy.  Life is short, eat pie first.  And since kids aren’t allowed to have pie first, cover your pie in gravy so they won’t be able to tell that you’re eating dessert first.  It’s always the fault of whoever isn’t in the room at the time.  Anyone who says you’re getting older is a damn liar.  Teach small children to say rude things to their parents and sit back and watch the fun.  Love kids.  Love your own kids.  Love other people’s kids.  Kids can never have too many people who love them.  There’s always somebody a little worse off than you are, do what you can for them not because they might return the favor, but because helping people is fun.  Flirt with everybody, because it’s fun.  There are no occasions for which a well timed joke is inappropriate.  Tell tall tales with a straight face and lots of sincere belief.  And don’t ever take yourself seriously.

He started leaving us a couple of years ago when Alzheimer’s made it hard for him to keep doing the things he had always done.  He’d latch onto an idea and wouldn’t be able to let it go.  It was hard for the people in the family who were caring for him, mostly because they forgot that last rule: don’t ever take yourself seriously.  One day I was out running errands with a couple of cousins and Uncle Dan, after his Alzheimer’s began getting really bad.  My cousins nearly had a heart attack when they heard Uncle Dan and I chatting in the back seat….

“I heard you’ve got a fancy new job now.  Are you making lots of money?” Uncle Dan asked.

“Oh, I’m making enough to get by.  It’s a pretty good job.”  I replied

“Now that you’re making all this money, you’ll have to pay for me to go down to California and visit Dee.”  Uncle Dan said in his trademark serious tone that we all know not to take seriously.  Dee is Dan’s oldest son.

“Oh, sure.  I’ll pay for you to go visit Dee.”  My cousins were giving me panic eyes in the rear view mirror trying to get me to stop, worried that he’d latch on to this idea and pester them about it once I was gone.  I just smiled and gave it 10 or 15 seconds, just like Uncle Dan would have done.  “Yup, I’ll pay for the trip down to see Dee.  I don’t know how you’re getting back, but I’ll pay for the trip down.  You’ll have to hitch up your pant leg and hitchhike back because you know how cheap Dee is, he’s not going to pay for you to get back.”

Uncle Dan looked at me with a crooked grin and a sparkle in his eyes and chuckled.  Then he shook his head.  “Well, I don’t know about that.  I’ll have to think about that a little bit.”  And that was that.  He was never serious about having me pay for him to take a trip.

Not long after that, he asked me if I’d bought a house yet.  When I explained that I wasn’t that rich yet, he said my rich aunt would surely pay for most of it.  I laughed and told him I didn’t think she loved me that much.  He shook his head in mock consternation and then asked why I hadn’t bought a house with all the money I was making at my new job.  I told him I was saving up my nickles and dimes but that he could donate some money to buy me a house any time he wanted.  He was having a serious conversation with me about having a secure future for myself, but he framed it as a joke as always.  That was how he showed his affection, and he did care about and worry about all of us.

His service was as he would have wanted it.  The military honors he was due as a veteran, followed by a short 5 minute service, reminding us to celebrate life, love our kids, and just live life.  That was it.  No formality.  No sermon.  Then a party, where Uncle Dan would have been quite happy… lots of pie, plenty of rolls, and everyone talking, laughing, and catching up.  It never fails that I cry during the military honors, just a little bit.  But beyond that I don’t think I’ll be crying.  I don’t believe that they ever really leave us.  I think they pop in to watch over us when we need it.  Or just to laugh at us during the everyday silliness of life.  When Grandpa passed, he shows up in my life in two ways… sometimes I hit my head and that’s a reminder to pay attention and take care of myself.  And then when things are really bad and I’m losing hope for myself, a particular song will come on the radio.  The week he died I couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing that song.  Now it just shows up every once in a while, a reminder when I need it.  It will be interesting to see where Uncle Dan shows up in my life.  He was a prankster in life, so whatever tricks he decides to pull will bring a smile to my face.

The Discouraging World of Online Dating

I’ve had an online dating profile in one form or another for … well… a long time.  And generally, I don’t get much attention, which compared to what some women experience is something of a relief.  But when I do get attention, be it the generic “I’d like to meet you” sorts of features on many sites or an actual message from an actual person (allegedly) I find that I just don’t meet people I’d like to sit near on the bus let alone become intimate with.  I’m not talking about appearance or anything superficial, I’m talking directly about personality.

My friends will attest that I have a long standing track record of not really being terribly particular about appearances.  Sure, there are certain traits that I find more attractive than others, but that’s never held me back from dating someone who was a complete opposite of what I would subjectively find attractive.  Because it’s just not that important to me that the person I fall in love with look like the hunk of my dreams.  So when I say I’m talking about personality being a problem, it’s genuinely a personality problem.

Let me give you some examples.  P. contacted me on a dating site, and nearly immediately wanted to switch to texting from messaging through the site’s email.  He didn’t want to publicly post a photo of himself, but wanted to send me a photo.  I agreed, and he promptly sent me a photo… just an average looking guy.  Then he wanted a “better” photo of me.  I learned long ago not to post photos of myself from the neck down.  I’ve got an extremely ample bust and that just draws all kinds of creepers.  So when a man asks for a better photo, I know he means that he wants a picture of me that shows my figure.  Fair enough.  So I send the most recent head to toe shot of myself I have in my phone, one of me in a new dress I just bought recently.  It’s pretty provocative.  It also very clearly shows that I am a fat woman and not ashamed of it.  He immediately wanted to see “more”.  “More” is a very vague way of asking me to send more revealing photos.  I declined and let him know that I wasn’t after casual dating or casual sex.  I’m genuinely looking for a relationship.  And frankly, if I were looking for casual sex, I have plenty of options with men I already know and trust to treat me with respect and affection.  I’m comfortable with myself and my sexuality and my choices.  Random internet dude seemed shocked that I wasn’t falling all over myself to accept his offer.

I almost prefer this type.  They’re not trying to hide who and what they are.  And much as I hate this assumption that I as a fat woman would jump on any opportunity for a man who expresses a genuine desire for my body, he is at least honest that he finds me sexually attractive and is open about wanting something casual.  He doesn’t want a serious relationship, he doesn’t want to pretend to be interested in my interests or my friends or my life.  There’s a time and place for arrangements like that.  It’s not what I’m after.  And when I declined, he moved on without feeling the need to insult me on his way out the proverbial door.  I respect that.  I have deeper problems with his desire to sleep with fat women but not date them, but he is at least honest with himself and with the women he contacts.

Worse though, in my mind, are the men who do pretend to be interested in a relationship.  C. contacted me the same day P. did, but made every effort to differentiate himself from “those other guys”.  And with the fresh example of P. in my mind, I fell for C.’s game hook line and sinker.  He made a comment near the beginning that was inappropriate, but seemed genuinely repentant when I called him on it.  We chatted for a couple of days, went on one brief date, and continued chatting and talking on the phone for several more days.  Some of our conversations got quite intense.  But there were warning signs that I wasn’t ignoring as our conversations progressed.  He seemed to have zero social life.  He wanted to be in near constant contact with me by IM, text, or phone…to a point that it was becoming inconvenient to do anything in my real life.  If I took a minute or two to reply because I was doing something else, he became anxious and would send multiple messages trying to get my attention.  He seemed aimless in his life, and remarked that I seemed very hard working simply by mentioning the normal day to day things that I was trying to get done while he was monopolizing my time.  C. made a number of comments about himself that pointed strongly to a very poor self esteem.

Then he began doing things that were just too manipulative and potentially signs of emotionally abusive nature.  At the end of an intense phone conversation, he would hang up abruptly then claim that he had heard a man’s voice in my background.  The first time I had Pandora on in the background so I assumed he heard an ad and scrambled to explain and ensure that he wasn’t angry with me.  But when he did the same thing again the next night I suspected that this was just a ruse.  When I expressed that I was very wary of continuing our association due to the things I mentioned above, he was alternately apologetic and accepting.  But he wanted to go on essentially as we had been, but as “friends”.  I firmly declined.  Then he sent this (before reading the next paragraph, please understand that this is a direct quote from his text message, I’ve only corrected some minor spelling for readability.  It’s quite explicit, degrading, and includes some foul language.  I debated censoring it or just summarizing, but that would imply that his words have the power to harm me.)

Well all I can say is I just wanted to use you.  You have freak hair on your face under your double roll chin.  Your gut hangs down in to your pants.  I don’t know how you shave that nasty cunt.  You’re so dang fat how do you wipe your ass.  I was just going to use you.  You’re so fucking ugly.  LOL take care you fat slut.

A couple of points I’d like to make.  He never saw me nude.  Not even any moderately revealing photos.  I was very clear about my body type in our initial conversations, before we even exchanged phone numbers.  I also explained that I’m body positive, practice Health at Every Size, and don’t do the whole dieting thing.  We had a whole conversation about how he found plus size women more attractive.  Not that it matters, but I do have PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome), a hormone imbalance that does cause me to grow hair in places that is considered unfeminine.  For the most part I try to find ways to look more socially acceptable, even going as far as having treatments done that are expensive and painful or using products that I can never be sure aren’t going to set off a nasty allergic reaction that could permanently scar me.  That’s a whole layer of effed up I don’t want to delve into right now.

The crux of this though is that I didn’t want him, so all of these things that were non-issues just a day ago are suddenly the most disgusting thing he can think of.  He has to reassure himself twice that he only intended to use me.  I’m not sure how he intended to gratify his desires with a woman he found so repulsive, but that’s his neurosis, not mine.

Is it any wonder that while I do still have two online dating profiles on free sites, I chose never to initiate contact with anyone?  When this is the sort of treatment I receive from men who contact me, I’m sure you can imagine the sort of response I get when I take the time to message someone first.  I’ve come to consider simply never receiving a reply a polite response.  It becomes difficult to really believe anyone who expresses interest in me.  I end up spending the first couple of weeks of getting to know someone wondering when their true feelings will come out.

Fudgy Brownies

Last night I was craving chocolate, since as a single woman I didn’t receive chocolates from a lover for Valentines’ day.  I wanted a recipe that I could easily make grain free, so it wouldn’t upset my system but would still satisfy my craving.  This is a great recipe because it only calls for 1/2 c. of flour.  I used almond flour, which is quite expensive, so the small amount is much easier to swallow than several cups.

brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 1/4 c. sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c. flour (standard wheat flour is what the original calls for here, but really any type of flour would work.  a good AP GF flour blend would be fine.  I like almond flour for this application.)

Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  When melted and smooth, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Mix in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt.  Then add the flour and mix well.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 8×8″ baking pan and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out barely clean.

The original suggests you cut them into two inch squares… that feels a bit overzealous to me.  9 to a pan sounds about right.