Alpha Mom » Kristen Chase parenting and pregnancy opinions and information Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:14:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 True Colors Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:26:26 +0000

A letter came home from my daughter’s therapist with all sorts of things we needed to do to help provide her with consistency and stability between our two homes even though she’s at mine 95% of the time.

Co-parenting: It’s nice if you can get it to work. 

I’d been waiting for this letter for months now, anticipating what the therapist would recommend. Not surprisingly, there’s nothing in that letter that’s mindblowingly original or different or even anything I didn’t already know or am already trying to do.

Though trust me, I’m not reading through the letter patting myself on the back because I’m so awesome.

It’s all common sense. At least, one would think.

But really, the letter is more like a reminder of how it could be if things were better between me and my ex, which is not something I anticipate ever happening, at least in the near future anyway.

Co-parenting, whether it’s in a marriage or a divorce, isn’t an easy thing because even people who are similar and actually get along well can have wildly different thoughts and opinions about how children should be raised.

Sure, two brains and four hands can be better than one, but they can also be more opinions to entertain and manage and disagree with and fight about.

And it’s not necessarily something you’d ever talk before you got married.

“How do you plan on handling the privacy of your tween?” 


You might cover the big stuff, like religion and education, both of you not knowing that it’s always the little things that screw with you, all of which come into play when your kids get older.

When your kids are little, it’s all fun and games and teething and “when should we ditch the binky?” (awwwww!) but as they get older it’s pretty damn challenging to navigate.

Even harder when you just don’t agree with the parenting values and approaches of the person you decided to procreate with. Or like, you pretty much don’t agree with any part of how that person lives their life (and never really did except you didn’t actually figure that out until it was too late).

And as much as I’d like to co-parent, is it really possible when only one person is actually making an effort to do it? When there’s no communication, no respect, no consideration, well, what do you do then?

I know that so much of parenting, especially when it’s your first headed into the teen years not too far in the future, is a lot of trial and error. But some people will never see their errors. And they will never learn from them.

That’s just how it is.

I will never stop making an effort. I will be cordial. And straightforward. No trash talk, now or ever, especially in front of the kids.

But I certainly will not go out of my way to be extra nice or overly pleasant or ridiculously accommodating towards my ex, unless it’s for the true benefit and well-being of the kids.

Because in the end, some people, some situations, well, they are never going to change. I need to preserve my own sanity so I can actually parent these amazing kids.

And true colors will always shine through, beautiful or ugly.

Cyndi Lauper said it.

And so do I.

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On Being Your Best Self Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:50:33 +0000

A few months ago I decided to make a few changes in my life. I wish I could say it was because I had some sort of epiphany.

Actually, it was because I kept getting sick and I felt as though it was a direct result of some of the choices I was making. Who I was dating. How I was dating. What I was eating. Or not eating. How I was dealing with my feelings. Or not dealing with my feelings.

And so I quit dating, and I cut my hair.

I decided to just eat whatever I wanted when I was hungry without counting calories or cutting carbs or living on coffee for the better part of the day while “forgetting” to eat until dinner time.

I made a conscious decision to protect my own feelings, which sometimes meant not being nice and appropriate and polite in my dealings with certain people.

And guess what, it worked.

I did feel better physically. I haven’t had a stomach ailment, which had plagued me for many months, since then. Granted, I’ve had a month-long cold turned sinus infection, but I don’t think that’s related to my mental health.

The time I’ve saved by not dating has been used in tackling all sorts of tasks, from small things like creating a budget (or at least, taking a hard look at my personal finances and spending habits. Oh Starbucks and manicures, how I miss thee. 

I’m also much more well rested and pleasant, at least for 3 weeks out of the month, anyway, and even though my work was busy and I had to drop my exercise routine, I was able to hold it together through a pretty stressful month.

And while I’m still a little sad and lonely, they are passing feelings, rarely sticking around for more than a few minutes, the gratefulness I feel about my life squashing them to bits.

But when I look in the mirror, I don’t recognize myself.

I vacillate daily about my short hair. I’ve gained weight.

And I realize now how much of my own self worth I placed squarely on my appearance. That my version of my best self was when I was pretty and thin, without any thought to what was going on inside.

Because I get attention and compliments. And people like me. Or “like” me.

It’s vapid, vain, and completely shallow. And it’s no wonder I’ve found myself in unhappy relationships.

But right now, as I am, I’m pretty sure is my best self, or at least as close to it as I’ve ever been.

I know myself better than I ever had before. I’m doing my best to protect my heart and take care of myself.

Granted, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier, and I certainly need to exercise again for my own sanity’s sake, not just so I can fit my butt in all the pants I bought on a recent shopping spree.

That’s okay too.

And sure, not every hairstyle is going to be the most flattering. But it’s just hair. It grows.

Our best physical selves are easy to change, but really, quite fleeting. Time is not our friend.

But the other stuff, the important stuff, well that’s all that really matters in the end.

The people that love me, the people that I should want to love me, well, they see that. And now, I’m seeing it for myself.


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We Haven’t Come A Long Way, Baby. Tue, 30 Dec 2014 12:38:17 +0000

I was pretty surprised when a routine stop through British customs turned into a 15-minute ordeal.

This was not the way I had expected to start my mini-Christmas getaway, a treat to myself while my kids spent the holiday with their dad.

On the rare occasions that I have more than a weekend alone, I try to take a trip, not just because I love to travel but I do find it hard to be alone in my house without my kids.

She started in with the typical line of questioning, like the purpose of my visit and how long I was staying. I wasn’t even taken aback when she asked what I did for a living, even though I had told her my trip was for pleasure, the answer that’s not supposed to raise red flags.

“A writer,” I told her, pointing to where I had written it on the card, assuming she’d stamp my passport and send me on my way.

But that wasn’t the case.

She proceeded to ask me all sorts of probing questions, like what I wrote about. Parenting. And how many kids I have. 4. Along with the ages, and finally, their whereabouts.

“They’re with their dad,” I replied, trying to remain friendly and pleasant, which was growing increasingly difficult for me, especially considering I had spent the earlier part of my flight missing my kids, the latter part trying to get sleep so I could enjoy my short little jaunt, the Christmas gift to myself this year.

But she just kept going.

“So why wouldn’t you want to be with them for Christmas” she continued, at which point I gave her a look and explained, uncomfortably and reluctantly, that I was divorced and this was their year with their dad. I celebrated with them today, I added, hoping she’d stop at some point.

But she didn’t.

“Okay, but why don’t you want to be with them.”

Ummmmm. Did she not hear me? Isn’t it common knowledge that divorced people with kids split holidays? 

“I’ll need to see your return ticket” she said, curtly.

I began searching my iPhone for the email confirmation, silently cursing her for forcing me to use my roaming data. I fumbled around through labels and keywords as she sat and stared at me while flipping through my passport, mentioning that I “certainly don’t travel much” until she got tired and told me to just forget it.

As I walked away, I felt flustered and confused, and then, angry, because I’d be willing to bet money that she wouldn’t think it was odd for a man to take a vacation over Christmas without his kids, let alone pester him about why he didn’t want to be with them or wonder if he was abandoning his family.

Maybe one day it won’t be so odd for a mom to go on a vacation without her kids, but until then, I’ll make sure to prepare a thorough explanation, even though what I really want to say is “None of your damn business.”

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When Life Gives You a Dirty Panda Hoodie, Make It Into a Sheep Costume Tue, 23 Dec 2014 22:23:29 +0000

I’ve been doing a pretty good job at keeping my crap together, juggling work along with four schedules and hockey practices and homework and “Oh hey, I need to bring a cheese block to school!” and “My instrument project is due tomorrow can you buy ?”

I’m an extremely organized person by nature, with lists and Google Calendars in as many colors as Joseph’s infamous coat, but there’s only so much one person alone with four kids can do, which is why my youngest showed up at her Christmas pageant in a dirty hoodie and a tutu instead of a sheep costume.

Amidst the 400 reply-all emails about costumes which turned into teacher gift money that I ended up just skimming and then deleting over and over I missed the part where I had to find her a costume. Or make it.

Make it?! Cue laughter here.

I just assumed that because her older sister (a cow) was being provided a costume, that the same would happen for her, and so while I did actually remember to dress her in all white (score 1!), I missed the whole other important part.

(Score back to 0).

There she was with her classmates, dressed in cute furry onesies and a sweater covered in cotton balls, all looking like super cute sheep with her wearing tights, a flower tutu, and the best part: a Panda hoodie.

To be exact, a dirty Panda hoodie.

The arms were covered in red lipstick. Or blood. (I’m going with lipstick for my own self preservation). The front was speckled with various smudges and stains.

But then I remembered that it had a hood. With ears. And as embarrassed as I was that the thing looked like it could stand on stage and perform “Jingle Bells” on its very own, I popped it on her head and went with it.

Suddenly, I was indebted to that damn dirty panda hoodie for saving my ass.

A few minutes later as she entered the church at the start of the Christmas pageant, I watched all the little sheep walking by, most missing their fancy woolen hoods, others tugging at the arms and legs of their homemade costumes, and then my little lamb, walking proudly in her tutu and dirty Panda hoodie, her face peeking out of the hood as she does when she wears it every single day.

And I realized that what I thought was surely going to be a bit of an embarrassing disaster actually turned out alright. Plus, who knows if she would have worn the costume I had bought or made for her 5 minutes of stage time, because, you know, toddlers.

As I look towards the end of my first full year alone and onto the second, I need to remember that I can only do so much.

Hell, we can all only do so much, no matter how many kids and how much help we have.

The rest of the time, well, we’ve just got to keep our head up and accept that we’re just winging it, doing the best we can to make it to the next day and the next one after that, which sometimes means dirty panda hoodies rather than pretty sheep costumes.

And I’m okay with that.


Photo Credit:


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Single Mom: Where Is The Love? Sat, 13 Dec 2014 16:10:54 +0000

Last night I googled “How do you know when you’re in love” which by all counts (including 2 marriages and plenty of short- and long-term relationships) I should know the answer to and yet, there I was asking the Internet the answer to what right just be life’s unanswerable question.

I even asked a friend, who was sort of left speechless and rightfully so because, um, what do you say?

Being off the dating scene for a couple of months has given me time to reflect on my relationships. Well, and catch up on The New Girl and The Good Wife. But also a lot of time to think about love.

I’ve had “the feeling” a lot, at least what I thought was “the feeling” which everyone sort of says is how you know but now I’m led to wonder if it was just the feeling of something else.

The feeling… that I want to get laid. The feeling… that I wanted to be wanted. The feeling… that I don’t want to be alone.

You get the idea.

I don’t think I ever particularly liked anyone I was with (yes, even the ones I was married to) at least as a friend anyway. I never really ever felt like I could just breathe. Relax. Be myself.

And if I did end up feeling that way, I didn’t want to have sex with them.

I remember people telling me that their boyfriend or husband was their “best friend” and I’d roll my eyes in a sort of “yeah right” kind of way because now I know I just had no comprehension of what that meant.

Male friendships were pretty much non-existent in my life because I always got the sense that no one really want to be “just friends” with me. (I realize that sounds incredibly self-centered, vain, and possibly inaccurate, but if anyone was ever like “let’s just hang out” I thought was a little weird. Yes, issues, I have them. I get it).

And on my end of things, dating was always sort of a game; as much as I might have felt objectified, I was doing the same thing in reverse, which does not lend itself well to finding someone compatible with you beyond a few fun nights in the sack. Fast forward a bunch of years and I have more acceptance over the value of those passing, fleeting trysts, even relationships and the feelings that aren’t actually “THE FEELING,” but back then, I was determined to make things work, even when things really shouldn’t work.

I found myself losing track of what really mattered to me.  I found myself married for 10 years with four kids to someone who I should have ditched after a couple months.

Recently, I thought that I was in love. I had “the feeling” but I also enjoyed being around him like everyone always said it should be and then we broke up and I was completely heartbroken — which I’d never felt before upon a break up — so it must have been love, right?

Or was it?

Our time together was mostly spent bitching about our exes and having sex, and the loss I felt wasn’t necessarily about him but the idea of what we had, what I felt like I finally had, and so losing that was devastating to me.

I’m not even sure it was love for him. Or the idea of what he represented to me.

If you’re wondering, Google was absolutely no help. Apparently, you’re supposed to feel comfortable farting in front of someone and meeting their family, and about 20-30 other things that sound more like a good babysitter than a lover.

In my heart, I still want to believe that love gives you some sort of rush. A combination of wanting to be together and not wanting to be apart. But in my head, I’m struggling to understand if that’s a reality. Like maybe I just don’t know what love is. What if it was right in front of me and I had absolutely no idea?

Do you love someone even though they’ve hurt you? Or they’re not good for you?

As much as we say the heart doesn’t choose who it loves and just does, doesn’t the head have a say as well? And shouldn’t it be obvious enough that you’d know?

The love I’ve experienced in my life from my parents and supposed loved ones was so askew, and combined with challenging relationships I’ve had over the years, a very large part of me feels like I wouldn’t know love because it would seem so foreign. Like the opposite of what I’ve felt and been hurt by in my life.

Whatever love is, I want it. I know I can have it.

I just hope I realize when it when it happens.

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There’s No Place Like Far From Home For The Holidays Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:15:43 +0000

Nothing about divorce is fun, but the holidays can be downright torturous.

I realize that’s torture is relative. And considering how many I survived with my ex-inlaws, you would think that having a holiday without them would be as relaxing as a Hawaii vacation.

But I’d spend every holiday with them if it meant I’d be with my children.

This year seems especially hard for me, even more than last year when I offered to switch with him because he had never been home for Christmas. I thought it would be a nice thing, you know, me taking the high road and all. Plus, I’d see them the day after, and we’d have our own celebration and maybe it would come to help me in the long run.

Little did I know how hard it would be to wake up on Christmas morning without them, missing them even more when I celebrated with my friends’ kids and her family.

So given that I wasn’t with them last year, I was all geared up to have them this year, but as it turns out, my ex did not consider my gesture to be an actual “switch,” but rather, a “forfeit,” so I’ve found myself without them again.

Worse, even they were bummed to be apart from me.

Look, I’d happily celebrate birthdays and holidays with my kids if it was something they really wanted, but we’re just not in a place where that’s possible. And quite frankly, I think my kids even know that because they never even brought that up as a possibility.

Of course, they’re with me up through Christmas Eve, and while I admittedly sulked a bit about it, not in front of them, of course, I’m planning our usual holiday traditions — the book advent countdown, the Christmas tree decorating, the awkward Santa visit — knowing that even though our Christmas Day will be celebrated on Christmas Eve Day, it will still be just as wonderful.

But my favorite part of Christmas is the early morning wake-up, with the kids clamoring to come down the stairs, then gawking at the lit tree with all the presents underneath, particularly my youngest for whom I will have now missed two Christmas mornings.

And I have to say that the holidays never meant so much to me until I had kids with which to spend them. Their excitement is magical, and for me, as someone who is not religious, it is the reason for the season. A time to cherish family, give thanks, and acknowledge all the special people in your life.

Many friends have kindly invited me to join them over the holidays, but I’ve decided it’ll be best for me to spend them alone. As much as I enjoy their company, it’s not the same for me without my kids, so the least I can do is take the rare 5 days-in-a-row alone and give myself the gift of respite, which is something I really need.

They’ll be back with me soon enough, to ring in the new year as we did the year before, all together. Just the 5 of us. As it should be. And in some ways, no matter what happens in my personal life, always will.

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On Being Sad Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:01:48 +0000

I’ve been sad lately.

My brand of feeling down often manifests as anxiety, which has been rearing its ugly head lately too, but this time around, my sads feel like actual sads.

It’s not all day long, mind you, nor is it anything that I find to be worrisome. I’m hyper self-aware, which is a blessing and a curse, but if I felt as though it was interfering with my ability to function, I’d be the first to head to my doctor to have a chat.

On the contrary, I’m finding my nightly sadness to be cathartic.

See, this is the first time since high school that I’ve ever actually been alone. As in, uncoupled, and I’m finding myself with more time and energy to focus on myself, which is awesome, especially since this is the busiest time of year for me at work. I’m finally knocking stuff off my to-do list, things that have needed my attention for months now, and really, truly enjoying the company of my kids.

But all this time also means I have more of it to think, about my broken heart still healing from a love lost, the mistakes I’ve made, the regrets I have, all of which surface in the still of the night.

It usually starts when I’m sitting in my nightly hot bath after my day is done and the kids are asleep. I sit quietly in the water and think about what could have been or should have been. I think of things that I probably don’t even need to think about, things that I have no power to change. Things that will always be.

But when you’re always moving and going, when your energy is always being forced out to help others, well, you don’t get the opportunity to mourn. To feel the hurt and sadness and anger and all those feelings you have, that I have, that have been taking up space in my head and my body for many years.

Some old, some new.

I don’t think they’re bad, nor do I wish they’d go away. For too long I’ve used work and men (my two vices) to distract me from feeling them.

And now I want to give them a chance to be heard so that they can be quieted, not suppressed.

These feelings remind me that I’m human. That I’m alive. That I made it through a whole lot of crazy.

After ten minutes or so, I hop out of the tub and into bed, falling asleep peacefully, awakening the next day feeling content and grateful, my puffy eyes the only indication that I’d been crying.

The funny thing is that I don’t expect to find any sort of resolution. There’s no magic salve or cut and dry answer that will help soothe or squelch them.

For now, I’m just letting them be heard and known in a safe place, hoping that giving them air to breathe will set them free once and for all.

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Why I Chopped Off All My Hair Sat, 08 Nov 2014 16:19:35 +0000

I spent the entire day after getting my hair lopped off thinking of how to explain the decision to people.

I just don’t have time to do my hair every morning!

I love pixie cuts!


Because I did it on my weekend without kids, which I chose to spend alone in downtown Philly where no one had ever seen me before, I had time to wander the streets as the “new me” while I figured out how to answer the inevitable questions I’d face when coming home to where the “old me” existed.

I’d told no one beforehand, though I’d been planning the haircut for weeks — my hesitance, my two cancellations — all because I didn’t want to have to tell people the real reason.

And I get it. Why would a pretty girl with pretty hair who’s had it short a couple of times and knows it isn’t necessarily her best look chop it off?

But that’s exactly why I did.

I don’t really want to feel pretty right now.

Look, I know girls look gorgeous with short hair. Take Ginnifer Goodwin, Charlize Theron, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway.

But for me, it’s different.

I’ve spent most of my life feeling accepted and wanted solely based on my appearance, which isn’t hard when you’re a tall half-Asian (so exotic!) girl with long legs and a slender frame. Also not hard when that seems to be the only way you’re getting approval.

It’s old nonsense that haunts me when I stare in the mirror and decide I need to fit into a particular size pants even though there’s vanity sizing and no one really cares (or knows) if you’re in an 8 or a 10 except you.

All my energy for all these years has gone outside of me, yes on my looks but also in often times dysfunctional caring for others (my kids excluded because duh, they’re my kids).

And so over these past few weeks, as I remove myself from relationships and delete all the dating apps off my phone, I’ve made a decision to take care of my own business for once. To draw my energy in for now.

My hair, my looks, well, they give me a confidence that has, at times, bordered on unhealthy, and somehow altering it gives me a chance to breathe.

There are dentist visits and doctors appointments. There are cars that need tires rotated. There are budgets that need to be made and followed. There are a myriad other things in my own life that I need to tend to right now, not even including my four children and their health and well-being and livelihood, that in chopping off my hair I feel as though I’m able to force myself to focus on.

And really, I want to feel sexy and beautiful and hot and amazing and confident because of everything about me.

That’s not to say I haven’t had (and don’t still do) have relationships that are based on more than just my appearance. I know people have loved (and do love) me for who I am.

But the love for myself has been too tied up in what I show to the world, in both how I look and how I act.

This is how I’m choosing to start harnessing that energy for someone who really needs it before it’s too late.

And that person is me.

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Why I Don’t Want To Be a Happy Person Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:44:53 +0000

“I’m generally a happy person!” I told my therapist last week. And it’s true. As hard as my life can be, I really, really like it. My job, my friends, my children, my home with its terrible green carpet and aztec-inspired border in the kitchen. All of it.

“I just want to be with someone else who is happy!” I continued, referring to a series of relationships over the last year with people who were depressed and broken and depressingly broken.

“No you don’t,” she replied. She paused, which let my mind race into all sorts of different directions, like maybe I’m not really happy or maybe there’s something I’m putting into the world that’s just drawing in sad people. 

Just when she saw the look of horror start to take over my face, she kept going.

“You want someone who’s content with his life. Like you.”

And then I realized that I’ve been going about it all wrong. I’ve been going about everything all wrong really. And maybe you have too.

See, we’re all so focused on being happy. And making others happy. And ensuring that our kids grow up to be happy people because that’s what you want for them (and a good job and a house or apartment please, just in case the universe is listening) when really what we should be focused on is contentment.

Am I the only one who had the two things completely confused?

Happiness is amazing. It’s thrilling and wonderful and invigorating but it’s also fleeting. It’s an emotion that we experience related to specific events or moments or happenings in our life. A gift, a party, an award, a dinner, an orgasm or six (ahem).

You can put your finger exactly on what would make you happy, and you can also put your finger on what might make others happy too. Well, mostly.

But contentment is a state of being. Stasis.

A place where your existence that just feels right. Where your mind, body, and soul are satisfied.

And importantly, something you can’t give to or be for anyone else.

Yes, there will be many happy moments (I hope) and perhaps many sad moments (I hope not), and lots of other highs and lows and plateaus but overall you’ve found a good, secure spot in this world.

You’ll stumble, you’ll get up, you might even leap and jump and soar. It might not be pretty. It might be insanely beautiful.

But whatever happens, you’ll land on your feet.

And that’s where I am. Really, truly content, without a moment passing where I don’t feel grateful.

It’s what I want in a partner. It’s what I want for my children. It’s what I want for my ex with the hopes that it will translate into better caretaking of our children.

Happiness is amazing. And I’ll definitely take more of it in my life. But it’s fleeting. It evaporates.

Contentment might be hard to come by, but it’s much more satisfying in the end.

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Spark Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:17:50 +0000

“Would you mind it much if I kissed you?” he asked, leaning in, quoting a line from the play that we’d just seen together.

I imagine he thought it was pretty clever.

He’d grabbed at my bracelet and squeezed my hand the moment before and I knew what was coming next. I could smell it from the space between us slowly shrinking.

Instead of squeezing back and sliding closer to him, I leaned the other way, and unbuttoned the beaded chain from my wrist, unraveling it into one long chain, hoping his surprise at its construction would distract him from his intentions.


I could see his surprise and disappointment.

“Um, I have a rule about kissing on first dates!” I exclaimed disjointedly, as if I were creating the rule at that exact moment.

I kind of was.

If only I had that rule so many other times when I’d kissed someone. Which led to fucking someone. Which led to babies. Divorce.

Okay, it wasn’t always like that, exactly, but I had always associated a good first usually-drunk kiss with him being a good person, when really all it meant that he was a good kisser. Maybe good in bed.

Or more accurately, that I was wasted.

“I got strep throat one time after I kissed someone and now I’m paranoid.” I just threw the words up right there in the cab and looked down as if I could actually see them on the floor.

He chuckled nervously, then loudly, proceeding to explain the illogical nature of that statement.

“You’re just as likely to get it on a 2nd or 3rd date too, you know?”

He realized how ridiculous that sounded as he said it, as if his rationale would somehow convince me otherwise. The special moment that he had imagined, now replaced with a discussion about probability. Truth was, if I had wanted to kiss him I would have just kissed him.

And really, he would have just kissed me without a stupid line I’d just heard delivered better, on stage, by Michael Sera.

He would have kissed me like he kissed the woman he’d gone out with the week prior, a story he’d insisted on telling me over the phone to sound funny, though even he said to me “I’m not even sure why I’m telling you this” but then proceeded to tell me instead of changing the subject to anything but his dates with other women, a few of whose ex-husbands were gay thus rendering them incredibly deprived of male attention.

He’d held one woman’s hand and kissed her because he felt bad.

“How can I know you’re not just feeling sorry for me?” I asked, reminding him backhandedly about his pity “action,” desperately trying to divert from the whole strep throat debacle that made me sound more neurotic then I had hoped.

I leaned back in the seat now facing him, confidently. Gloating.

The guy who kisses a woman who complains on her first date that she hasn’t had her hand held or her lips kissed in ten years will not spurn my completely illogical and yes, completely fake reason for not wanting to kiss.

“I knew that would come back to bite me!” he laughed. “But c’mon, this is different, this is…” his voice trailed off as I turned to watch the city go by outside my taxi window.

I’d been sick a lot lately, these past few months, dating someone I knew wasn’t good for me and every time I’d seen him the last couple of times, I’d return home sick.

I tried not to read into but it was hard not to.

“I got strep throat in Hawaii. Then a UTI. Then strep throat again…” It was all true, all of it, except it wasn’t from kissing but from the airplane ride and all the sex and then the sex while I had an infection. Then a cold followed by a series of poorly-timed bloody noses —which is to say “Is there really a good time for a bloody nose?” and I have to say after having one at the Target checkout counter alone with four kids, “yes, yes there is” — was enough for me to call it quits and make me rethink my whole approach to sharing fluids and body parts and my life so willingly.

Lately, it was starting to feel reckless.

We slid out of the taxi in front of where I was staying, and I offered to walk him to his car parked in a garage a few blocks away, still hoping to convince him that I was just a rule follower. Instead, I decided to ride out the neuroses.

“Don’t you have any irrational fears?” I asked, insistent on him believing my strep throat story. “I once went to a restaurant that was completely covered in dollar bills. The ceiling. The walls. It was disgusting.”

He looked over at me suspiciously.

“Money’s dirty,” I reminded him, nodding my head knowingly. “It didn’t really make sense to me but every time I think about it, I feel a little ill.”

I kept talking about money and the wires in his car and anything I could think of as he drove me back around the block to where we’d been dropped by the taxi, the walk and return delivery only extending the awkwardness.

I kissed his cheek and hugged him goodbye, sliding out of the passenger side and clamoring up the steps into the doorway without even looking back.

I answered a few of his texts, that night then the next day. He was nice and funny and sweet, and if anything I appreciated not having to plan one damn thing about that evening except what to wear.

“Yeah, nice is good!” I texted my friend optimistically.

But nice is just nice and nothing else. And I want more. I want it all.

If I had minded that night, I’d still mind the next time. And the next time after that. Maybe not so much the kissing as much as the asking, which is the most telling thing of all.

I’ve given my fair share of second chances, believing that it was nerves or quirkiness or some sort of excuse for the lack of connection. That he had a great voice and boy, he was funny, and maybe it’ll turn into something at some point. When really, you just know.

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