Annie, Ten Years Ago!

I was cleaning and consolidating my documents in the cloud and came across this little scribble I wrote ten some years ago. Very similar idea to my earlier post: The Main Character – Annie. No wonder they say people don’t change. This might just answer my question: will my novel idea stick around or not for the next year or two.

[Fiction: Begin]

Anna sits in front of her desk trying to code. The deadline is a week away. The whole team is stressed out. They are on the hook for building an ecommerce website for a major retailer. The client sponsor firmly believes that online shopping is the future. However she has enemies at her company. Her partners believe the opposite, that nothing can replace the in person touch that enables retail shopping.

Anna checks the requirements document to see what the business logic should be. She read through a couple of times to make sure that she understands it clearly. It seems simple enough, what they want. Her attention switches from the document to the application that she is coding. She finds the place that she thinks is the right place to insert this new piece of business logic. She types quickly and efficiently.

[Fiction: End]

My Living Room Is No Longer Neat

My friend Michelle (owner of For the Love of Jobe – Pet Services) and I were eager to get to the Gifford cat shelter. I was adding two fur babies to my life. I had met them a week ago and felt in love. When we arrived at the shelter, the young man who processed my adoption last week said cheerfully, “You are here to pick up Davos and Jorah! Great.” Michelle and I looked at each. Definitely changing their names. Our eye contact made an unspoken agreement. From today on, they were going to be my Bilbo and Frodo!

The ride home was quick. Bilbo protested all the way. “Where are we going?” “What’s going on?” ‘Let me out!” Frodo watched tentatively. Eventually, he also joined his brother and softly protested. “Almost there,” I said. “Almost!”

When we got home, Bilbo jumped out of the cat carrier first. He started walking in the living room liked he was drunk. He could not decide if he should look right or left. So he walked zig and zag in my living room. Frodo also did not take too long to come out of the carrier. Unlike Bilbo though, he went straight to the back of the apartment. I did not know which one I should follow. Yes, Mindy, you just adopted two, not one, cats! I was outnumbered!

Bilbo is the ultimate explorer. He is friendly and social. He thinks he is a puppy and rolls around on his tummy. If he is not by my side, he is running laps around the apartment. So far, he has been a great eater and pooper. He likes to play rough with his brother.

Frodo is smaller and sweet. He is often cuddled up somewhere. He likes the window, high places like top of the kitchen cabinets, and the sink. He often misses his wet food dinner because Bilbo gets to both dishes first. He often needs his own space like in a box, but loves being held by mommy and our visitors.

I had not been able to sleep through the last three nights since they came home. “Bildo” wrestled in bed. One night, Bilbo brought his favorite toy and started playing in bed in the middle of the night. I had to take it and put it in the fridge.

Putting food out was also a small challenge. “Bildo” seemed to be starving. As soon as I took out the food bag or can from the closet, they would be all over me. Hopefully, they will eventually understand that they will always have something to eat everyday from now on.

Because Frodo likes the window, I had to move my plants. There were also half bitten leaves around. I am not sure if the plants are going to survive with Bildo. Oh well. RIP plants!

This morning, I woke up to a roll of paper towels scratched all over my kitchen counter. RIP paper towels. I guess I won’t be keeping that out anymore.

My living room is a mess! A few toys scattered around. A couple of plants are on the floor not getting any sunlight. Sand from the litter box spilled out. My leather sofa has a few scratch marks from Bilbo playing with his toy on the sofa. Amazon shipping box is one corner while the open carrier is in another corner. Frodo might like one of those spaces, I thought. I need to get more towels for Frodo. I need to get mug covers. I put away my Yankee candles. I leave dry food out all the time. The living room no longer says minimalist.

I know there is no escaping the mess. I am glad I had Tuxedo and Tabby to not be a rookie mommy. Mess aside. The purring has been amazing. I am thankful that they let me into their lives and vise versa. There are so much life and energy at home with Bildo running up and down the hallway. I am glad they can play all day while they are safe and cared for.

Welcome home, boys!

A Night Cry

After I heard from Joe and learned my new language, on the outside I was doing okay, but deep inside signs of trouble started to show. I was most vulnerable when I tried to fall asleep. First, my conscious mind relaxed and let go. It stopped being in control after holding myself together so tightly during the day, at work, in the evening. My mind started to wander on its own through everything I had experienced. My fear and insecurity surfaced briefly, then I’d fall asleep.

Once I fell asleep, I lost control. I woke up in the middle of the night crying once. As soon as I gained consciousness, I realized there were tears streaming down my face. Confused, I tried not to make any sounds as not to wake anyone else in the house. While my body cried, my mind was a blank. I didn’t feel sadness nor was I upset. My body must have been expressing fear buried underneath my toughness without my conscious mind. I wiped my eyes and went back to sleep. I didn’t reach out to anyone because I didn’t recognize I needed help. I didn’t feel badly when I awoke. In my mind, I was still trying to live a productive life and become a stronger person.

My brain was not doing well at all, but I didn’t even remember I had cried in my sleep until many years later.

Get Online

I knew I did not have any experience with online dating and had limited experience with dating. I was pretty sure that if I was alone I would do something stupid or dangerous, so I created a dating group made up of around thirty five of my close friends, including single and married friends, both husbands and wifes, and friends from different stages of my life. My poor friends. I would write them before and after I had a date about all my ups and downs. Thank goodness for friends. Having them made me felt safe and grounded.

My friend recommended OkCupid since she met her husband there. I trusted her taste knowing that I liked the books she read, the restaurants she ate at, the clothing stores she shopped at, and most importantly, the friends she kept and how she cared for her families. Commercials and ads didn’t usually get my attention; however words from friends, priceless. So I signed up and OkCupid became the first dating website that I really used to look for my prince.

OkCupid asked questions and their importances, and based on my answers it did fancy calculations and matched me with men with similar answers and importances. Each profile I saw had a percentage prominently displayed on it. I spent a few hours answering questions feeling a bit silly, like I was taking a test in a social study class in high school. Some of these questions were serious, entertaining, silly, and some I didn’t want to answer and share with strangers. Some were easier to answer than others. My personality clearly showed on how I answered these questions. I knew my answer to “are you clean or messy?” I considered myself fairly neat. “How about him? Should he be clean or messy? And how important is this to you?” For my prince, was he required to be clean? It depended. I tended to see thing in a spectrum and not so simply black and white. Would I want to be unmatched with someone who honestly answered that he was a bit messy because he did not put his dirty socks in the hamper? I was not sure. As I went on answering hundreds of questions, I gave the opposite gender lots of latitude. I had a feeling that the OkCupid algorithm was not going to work for me that precisely. Another data point to show my personality was the my Myers Briggs.  I was right down the middle for all four areas and I took the test three times in college and at work. Let’s just say, I often see both black and white.

After I signed up with OkCupid and getting more comfortable with the idea of online dating, I was curious on how other dating websites worked. I went all out. I tried eHarmony, Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, and Happn. I learned about all of them. eHarmony gave curated matches based on a three-hour assessment during sign up. Tinder was based on first impression of photos and a short blurb. Matches were when both people liked each other. Bumble worked similar to Tinder expect that women had to message first after being matched. Coffee Meets Bagel also gave curated matches daily. Hinge found singles via my Facebook network. Happn showed singles near me as I moved around town. There were plenty of other online dating websites and apps that I did not try. But after all these, I thought I had a good idea of how online dating worked.

When I was in school, I had never cheated on any exams. In dating applications, I could pay for additional premium features. I could see more, like seeing who liked me. I tried hard to not pay for online dating. However, to understand if there was any benefits, I paid ten dollars on Bumble to see who swiped right on me for a short period of time. It was totally cheating as far as I was concerned but it was totally worth it. I looked through the list of people who liked me based on just my pictures. It was very educational and such a short cut.

Friend 1: Well, cheating or not, I call it curiosity. Why not. I’m sure you’ll find the guy to enjoy watching the clouds with you. If not, you still would enjoy a beautiful day.

Friend 2: LOL!  That doesn’t sound like cheating to me. Just data gathering!

For those of you who had visited my place know that I now take a minimalist approach in life. I approached online dating the same way. After having a bit of looking around, I deactivated my accounts on most of them. I saw some of the same men on multiple sites. I also stuck to not paying for additional premium features feeling that knowing who liked me did not change how I felt about them. More is not better.

Why On Dating

I finally feel that I have settled on why I want to write about dating. It has to be something that I want to think about for a couple of years (which is the timeline I am giving myself for this second book.) I don’t claim to be an expert on dating. Actually, quite the opposite, I still have a lot to learn. But I can share what I have learned, my thoughts, and feelings. Most importantly, the amazing support I have and useful advice I received so far. Finally feeling mindful enough to write the opening page. A good snow day!

*~*~*~*~* On Dating: First Page *~*~*~*~*

What should I do to start dating at the age of forty? At forty, I found myself single and childless. I probably won’t ever have my own biological kids. I let that sinked in a bit. I am okay. I tried. Unlike having tried to get pregnant, I never went out specifically to meet men I did not know to date. I met both of my ex-boyfriends socially in college. We were friends first then became couples. After always having a man in my life for almost a decade, I lived another decade as a single. During that time, I went out one on one with a few single men I knew, but never thought of them as dates. It was clear that dating was not something I thought about in my single mind. Until now.  

My parents never talked to me about dating or love relationships. I don’t think it was because of the topic but their hands off parenting style. It was my married friends who were worried about me getting old alone. There were success stories among my married friends with online dating which was now a popular way to meet strangers. They kept bringing it up.

As someone who worked with technology, I did not have any problem signing up with OkCupid. I used Facebook and LinkedIn with ease. But with OkCupid, I found myself hesitating. What is my intention? How does this work? What’s the proper etiquette? I felt embarrassed just looking at the profiles and being asked to judge someone I did not know with a quick yes or no. My online profile existed for a few years collecting digital dusts.

Getting Ready

I had two cats: a male Tuxedo and a female Tabby. The Tuxedo was really not mine but my ex-boyfriend’s. He introduced me to having a gentle cat. When I got my two-year-old Tabby, my ex and I thought the Tuxedo might enjoy Tabby’s company so he came to live with us girls. The age and temperament difference between them was too great. They never bonded. The Tabby was always bullying the laid back and old Tuxedo. The Tuxedo passed away at the age of nineteen in 2013. A year later, I had to give away my Tabby at the age of four when I was moving out of the country. I have heard that she had also passed. I miss them!

I live with very loving neighbors in a very pet-friendly building. There had been many pet friendly conversations, especially about me not having any and that I could give someone a caring home! Initially, I hesitated. I wouldn’t want to see another cat dying or give him/her away. I wouldn’t want to neglect my cat if I had to travel for work, vacation, or family. My place would smell like pee. I would need to spend more money instead of saving more. My cloth would be covered in fur. Friends visiting might be allergic. The list went on and on in my head.

My neighbor M and G took me to visit the free-roam, no-kill shelter Gifford in December and I started to warm up to the idea. Maybe after the holidays! Maybe two bonded cats so that they could keep each other company. The holiday came and went and my responsible self hesitated again. Will I be good for the cats and be a good parent?

My neighbors M has been nudging me in the right direction though to open my heart. M connected me to Gifford’s Facebook page which has adoption updates. I saw kittens after kittens leaving the shelter going to their forever homes. That just did it for me in my heart. I might not be perfect but I would do my best. So, today I ordered a litter box from Amazon and decided that I will start looking for two cats to welcome them into my home!

A good friend said to me, “It’s about the cats!” He was so right!

Sun, Palm Trees, White Sands, Turquoise Water

The Aruba vacation came at a perfect time. It was right after I got a text from A that he thought I was too intense. Anyone who knew me well would be as surprised as me. He said, “I don’t think we are a good match.” I felt disappointed but life went on. I hopped on a plane and met my girlfriend in Aruba.

My girlfriend and I had decided that it was going to be one of those sitting-around-do-nothing vacation. We stayed at a hotel on the beach. In the morning, we took a long walk along the beach and logged at least ten thousand steps. Early afternoon, we hung out in the pool and I got all pink. Late afternoon, we dipped in the ocean, sat on the white sands, tasted the salt water. We ate dinner in front of the sunset. After dinner, we went back to the beach to see the night view of the ocean. It was fabulous. We did exactly what we wanted and did the same thing again the next day.

I couldn’t help but dissected my dating behavior with my girlfriend. Girlfriend chatting was so good for the mind and soul. She backed me up. This was just not the one, she said.

Aruba had beautiful palm trees and white sands that we didn’t have in New England. The Caribbean sun provided such light and warmth. I could always come back here for a mid-winter break.

When I am ninety years old, I picture myself living in an assisted home. I would need just a room. I would be comfortable in a cozy small space because I probably would not move about too much with weak knees. In the room, I would have my essentials, such as photos of my parents, relatives, friends, and their kids even. I would have plants because I like having something that’s alive in my room. I would have a few of my favorite books though my eyesight would probably not be good enough to read small fonts. The room would be in a building filled with elders like me. We would have our own retired community. There should be a nurse on staff to keep us healthy and a door man to keep us all safe. Hopefully, there is a chef on staff as well so I could eat a couple of small meals each day. I could not be a foodies anymore because my taste buds were old. I would spend my day reading and writing. Sometimes, grown kids from friends might visit me. I would have nice neighbors in the building. I would be alone but not lonely. I might have had someone but he might be gone before me. If I was lucky, I would be free of major diseases. I would still have a sharp mind and happy heart. I would live my old age in peace. When I gave out my last breath, someone would be there to take care of my final business. I am okay with this.

My married girlfriends worry about me getting old alone more than I do. Most of them are married with kids. When I visited their homes, there were often chaos with kids running around all over the place. At my home, it was filled with either silence or acoustic cafe music in the background. They were used to the noise that they probably had a hard time imagine living in silence. Since I have my own ending in mind, I feel content while knowing that however I travelled to that end is still an unknown. Anything is possible!

On the flight back from Aruba, I read my reader report for my memoir. I did pretty okay! This was the final feedback I was waiting for before pulling the trigger on publishing. I got two thumbs up! Onwards!

At Aruba, my single girlfriend and I agreed that we both have happy lives. The life journey awaits us. For that, we are open and hopeful.