Starting once more to track monthly writing production. Lots of ups and down, but it does provide a baseline to improve.
Masters Swimming – CO State Championship
This weekend I participated in the USMS Colorado Short Course Championship held in Thornton, CO. All in all it went very well, all times were improved significantly, earned 38 points for my team, and scored two t-shirts. Not a bad weekend.
This weekend was even better when the below canvas print was waiting for me after the meet. I hung it where a different Blue Boy used to be and I quite like it.
“Don’t argue with an author. Writers, even bad ones, always have the last word.”
Dan M. Kalin
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Many online profiles start with something like “My friends describe me as…”
What we’d rather know is “My ex-lovers describe me as…” Just keeping it real.
A woman sends me a message and leads with the line.. “My favorite quote for conjuring a visual – dead head sticker on a Cadillac .”
OK, Eagles reference, but surely I can come up with a visual quote too. In response I sent, “..barroom eyes shine vacancy, to see her you’ve got to look hard..”
I think she’s still running, haven’t heard from her since. 😉 This boy knows how to clear a room!
Came across a great profile; she’s attractive, athletic, and had a checklist of things she’s looking for in a match.
“My ideal lifelong partner has the following attributes : Sense of humor, (life is too short and perversely complex not to have one), mischievous, confident, honest, intelligent, cultured, emotionally supportive, and financially independent. (Gentleman, am I asking for too much?)”
Reading through the list, I’m getting all excited, since I’m checking off all the boxes.. until I read the last requirement. Gentlemen! Sadly I’m unqualified for the title. I will say however, as a gentleman-nought, no you aren’t asking for too much. 😉
Image by Erika Wittlieb
The Vanishing Part
Awhile back I was speaking to a friend and mentioned the concept of “Layers of Meaning” which an author can use to convey more complex ideas or concepts. I could tell from the reception that she didn’t really understand it, and I did a poor job of explaining. Something as simple as a title can be immensely complex with the right perspective. Take the title of this short piece, The Vanishing Part, as an example.
I could be referring to the process of getting older, many writers have commented on how the aged slowly become more invisible as they age, mainly because the young are conditioned to increasingly ignore them. While not true invisibility it stands in for the concept, as what is invisibility without the relative perception of others?
There are other plays on aging; the disappearance of muscle mass, color of the hair, clear unwrinkled skin, clear and brightly colored eyes, many other things. In this context, the vanishing part could be the process of losing those things.
Along the same lines, it could simply reflect an impending haircut which eliminates the length of hair necessary to make a successful part. That could be a lifestyle choice or a succumbing expedient response to a receding hairline.
How about the social? What if it really refers to an upcoming divorce and the vanishing part refers to what is being elided from your life? Or take that a bit further, and make it self-referential, detailing how you plan to vanish slowly from a social circle that has been outgrown or made redundant.
What if it is vanishing from your current identity completely? The dismantling of an entire self in fire until there is nothing left to find. Perhaps a phoenix then rises up with bright new feathers to live a completely different life. The concept has a bright appeal for anyone with regrets, and who does not have regrets?
Take Samuel, a sixty-something with three solitary children and a second wife. For some time he has wondered whether his continued presence and the playing of his role signifies a marked lack of ambition on his part. In the end analysis, he subjugated his own desires to serve those closest to him for more than 25 years and continues to do so in a gradually reduced capacity.
The children have flown the coop as children do, and who would want it otherwise? Not Samuel. So far the children have not fallen into the long haul of having children themselves, so there isn’t much call for being a grandparent. Samuel is secretly happy he hasn’t had to engage, children are so messy and a pain in the ass if you view it objectively. Samuel is beginning to see many things objectively.
His second marriage has changed, as all marriages do given a surfeit of time. His wife has developed extreme hearing problems, which require the use of hearing aids when working. At home alone with him, she never wears them. Samuel has caught his wife nodding at verbal points he didn’t make, and laughing at jokes she didn’t get, almost knowing him well enough to complete the deception. Almost. He talks to the dogs now, and they understand most of what he says. Most.
Dogs are the one thing which ties Samuel to marriage and home. Two old rescue girls, whose crowning joys are his weekly dog-food making chores and the twice daily walks around their Florida neighborhood. Conveniently their street makes a 1 mile loop and, since the girls are older now too, seldom is more than one lap needed.
Samuel’s wife has taken up with a cabal of divorced friends from the tennis club. Occasionally, he catches her looking at him with a slight curl of the lip. As though she has discovered something unpleasant, marring her otherwise perfect home. Samuel would ask after it normally, but invariably her hearing aids are not installed, and communication would be an exercise in futility. Even if she could hear him ask “What’s wrong?” the answer would likely be the usual “Nothing.” Samuel feels as though he is becoming the nothing she refers to. So the questions are best kept to himself.
One day, on his walk, he passes a home whose lawn is seldom mowed. The edge, even when mowed, impinges on the straight line of the sidewalk itself, uncut being underneath the blades of their mower. On a whim, Samuel reaches down with his hand and trims the grass for one sidewalk rectangle, flinging the cut grass back onto the lawn for its eventual absorption. Taking a few more steps, with two impatient dogs, he looks back at the newly anomalous straight line in the one section of sidewalk. Nodding as if in agreement with something only he hears, he turns and continues around the block.
That night, Samuel tosses and turns, with fevered dreams he later cannot remember. His wife lies on her back unmoving and unaware, miles away on the other side of their memory foam bed. Once in jest he had bought some lilies and placed them within her hands as she slept. The next morning they were still there, a joke she did not appreciate when she woke from her own rest.
Samuel wakes up and goes to the kitchen to start the morning coffee. The girls, after a short visit to the backyard, are in full lobbying mode for their breakfast. Samuel eats his oatmeal, drinks some coffee, and cleans up a bit prior to taking the girls out for their morning walk. Strangely, he can’t wait to see the place where he trimmed back the grass, to see how it looks with a day elapsed. As he turns the corner, the section with its clean edge is immediately obvious and oddly pleasing. Without giving it much thought, he reaches down once more and trims another section of sidewalk before continuing on his way.
The next few days, he trims more and more until the entire section is clear and clean. The areas where it has started to regrow, he retrims. Each day he knows it will be there and it gives him pleasure to see it, although he would have a difficult time identifying pleasure’s source. Perhaps the imposition of order where chaos once ruled, or perhaps something which owes itself solely to his continuous existence.
Lately, he has become concerned about a growing lump on his neck. It isn’t like anything he has seen before, but doctors remain reluctant to be convinced via teleconference. Getting an in-office appointment requires a heroic quest of its own, but eventually it’s arranged. Cancer found in the right tonsil, followed by immediate surgery to remove it and plot a course forward. Samuel’s wife and her silence continues, she’s willing to help out pro forma, but doesn’t really have the time. She provides transportation to the surgery center and back once, but proves too busy to do anything else. Duty, not love, where only love will do. Her view is that his cancer is easily survivable and nothing much to worry about. Perhaps.
Cancer, a club no one wants to join, but once in you find only other members understand the scope of the changes. Kindred spirits on their way to vanishing as well.
Treatment is seven weeks of daily radiation, mostly to the right side of his neck, with a weekly dose of chemotherapy as an adjunct. Samuel drives himself to treatments every day, and sits for the five hours of chemotherapy once a week. Samuel has only told his children of his condition, his relatives are mostly religious, and he doesn’t have the patience to endure last minute proselytizing. Even less than usual, patience vanishing.
In treatment, Samuel’s verbal responses are automatic, engaging on a superficial level. Everyone is wearing masks due to COVID, but patients wear the additional mask of giving caretakers the responses expected. Weight is melting off his frame steadily, fat, muscle, and bone density. Vanishing. He’s moved into the guest bedroom, because his getting up in the night disturbs his wife.
Samuel still walks daily with his dogs, and trims the sidewalk every day with his own hands – maintaining its order and rightness. No one seems to notice except for him, maybe the works of his hands are also vanishing.
After treatment concludes, radiation and chemotherapy have had their way. His hair, which wasn’t all that full to begin with, has fallen out in patterns reflecting radiation exposure. One benefit, his neck no longer needs to be shaved, but the absence of hair detracts from his usual look. He books an appointment with his barber, who initially balks at the request for a clean sweep. She comes around as she sees what hairline is left, works, and jokes there is no need for a part anymore when finished. His part, vanished.
When Samuel got home, he knocked on the door of his wife’s office. When she is listening, with hearing aids installed due to the workday, he asks for a divorce. A marriage, vanishing.
Three months later, living alone in a townhome, he books a mover to complete vanishing. Nothing left but the essentials, it’s time to finish. Bathing in the flames of his past, he works to complete a transformation. Vanished.
Who is the person with bright eyes, in a new city, a blank slate of friends – ready to be defined? Surely nothing so simple as Samuel.
All rights reserved (C) 2022 D. M. Kalin
Image by Skylarvision
When a woman, no matter how attractive she is, starts her dating profile with something along the lines her faith is very important to her, Jesus is her navigator, etc. I give them a hard pass. They already have a man in their life and I’m not into threesomes.
One woman’s profile read, “I always curate my appearance, home, and cuisine to provide a suitable style..” My advice to all prospective matches, run away as fast as you can, because if you get involved with this woman, she will be curating you into a “suitable style” as well.
What it says: “Looking for a trustworthy man”
What it means: “My last relationship was with a cheater”
What it says: Favorite trait for a partner – kindness
What it means: “Don’t be critical of anything I do”
What it says: “Looking for a partner on my worldwide adventures”
What it means: “I’m looking for someone to fund my worldwide adventures.”
As is only fair, here are excerpts from my own profile examined the same way.
What it says: “Intellectually nimble athletic women are irresistible.”
What it means: “Looking for women who are fit and witty.”
What it says: “Humor is very important…”
What it means: “Don’t be triggered by humor and actually have a sense of humor”
What it says: “Unpretentious”
What it means: “I wore suits every day for 30 years, not wearing one for Sunday dinner.”
What it says: “Musical interests wide-ranging and there is always music playing at my house.”
What it means: “Our musical interests need to be compatible.”
What it says: “Grew up in So. California, traveled and worked most of the world..”
What it means: “I know which places I don’t ever want to return to as well as those I do.”
What it says: “Tonsil cancer survivor in complete remission.”
What it means: “Keep walking if that is a problem.”
What it says: “Myers-Briggs INTJ-A”
What it means: “The last thing I need is an extroverted emotionally hungry vampire sucking all the oxygen out of a room.”
What it says: “Children are fully launched, have houses and TVs of their own.”
What it means: “My money and time are my own without external factors.”
Image by Erika Wittlieb
Masters Swimming – Yet Again
Saturday, I attended my first masters swimming since 2018. So many things have happened during that period and returning seems a bit like getting back to normal. I was swimming during the interim, I just wasn’t attending masters events other than ocean water swims. It always seemed like there was plenty of time to come back to it. However, things like COVID, cancer, cervical issues, divorce, and a cross-country move suggest otherwise.
I might have procrastinated a few years more but for the input of a friend who also swims. She wasn’t obnoxious about it, just persistent. Exactly what I needed to get off the dime, and I’m grateful. I swam 5 events and did better than I expected. (You always hope you will do better, but it doesn’t always happen) There is also some light at the end of the tunnel over being able to regain lost ground.
So, health permitting, I’ll be attending a lot more of these.
“Blood Will Out”, by Lauren Stoker – Review
Blood Will Out (With the Proper Solvent) is dedicated to Terry Pratchett’s memory, which sets quite a high bar for author Lauren Stoker. I’ve read most, if not all, of Pratchett’s published works – many more than once. This book is a difficult read for the first quarter, dangling plot points and stranded characters. Once that deep into the story it gets a lot easier as things settle down.
The characters aren’t as well developed as I would like, and I didn’t grow attached to any of them. Also, the forces of “good” are massively over-powered which reduces some of the potential for the story arc. The last part of the book gets a bit preachy as well. People who read this for entertainment aren’t looking for an eco-sermon. It’s like going to the Salvation Army shelter for dinner.
The interior formatting is excellent, top-notch. It is a distinct pleasure to turn each page (I bought the hardback). The cover doesn’t reach the same standard.
I rate the book a 3.5, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced under $20 on Amazon or at your local bookstore, it’s available only in paperback or hardcover, and is a fair entertainment value.
I’ve been struck by the similar nature of local profiles, almost as if the women had all attended the same seminar on how to build an online dating profile. In fairness, maybe the male profiles are similar as well, I can’t really tell because I don’t get to easily see those.
In Colorado, the archetype profile has a photo of the woman holding a just-caught fish. The surface message is that she enjoys outdoor activities which a prospective match might enjoy. However, digging deeper, isn’t she really saying she has no problem holding onto something slimy and gross with her bare hands? Now that is definitely a positive quality for all the prospective males regardless of their sporting preferences!
Another commonality is the fact that most mature (age 45+) female profiles are looking for a man with a graduate degree, regardless of their own educational level. It makes sense from a hypergamy perspective, but completely ignores the potential relationship problems of mismatched educational levels. It’s possible that a woman with a high school degree reads extensively and can carry an informed conversation on a wide range of topics (being an autodidact is a good proxy for higher education). However it is not probable. This type of mismatch works best when both are young, as building a family together can enhance shared experiences. Mature male daters aren’t looking for a mature someone to build a family with, they already have one if it was wanted. No, mature male daters want someone for companionship in all of its forms. The sex can be spectacular, but sooner or later talking is going to be on the menu. Women with high school degrees seem to instinctively understand it too, as their profiles tend to spend more time on their sexual attraction attributes. Women with Masters or PhD degrees spend much less profile space on their sexual attraction, instead highlighting accomplishments and intellectual pursuits. Sexual attributes are part of what’s on the table, but they don’t lead with it.
One of the shared attributes of many educated liberal dating profiles is the reference to the fact they read the New York Times. In context, it’s usually stated where they are emphasizing their intellectual prowess.
“I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn’t believe anything.” David St. Hubbins – Spinal Tap
If they are truly intellectuals, they read from a wide range of perspectives – too many to cite within a profile. Citing a specific publication is mere virtue signaling, “Look what a dedicated liberal (or conservative) I am, you’d better be too.” As a selection criterion, it’s a valid distinction but probably better expressed directly, “Not interested in Trumpers (or people who don’t support …)”
At the risk of being trite, I’ll cite one of my own sayings.
“I tend to doubt the virtue of those who signal it.” Dan M. Kalin
One woman expressed interest in a phone call, so we exchanged numbers for a chat later that evening. Her profile had a long rambling section about the things she was seeking and even more. I frankly confess to not having read it all (more than a thousand words). She had a PhD in some unspecified discipline (usually that means liberal arts), was Jewish, and owned a small business where she served as its CEO. First, if a person has a small business with less than 5 employees, calling themselves a CEO is ridiculous. Correctly they should be a President or Owner. Regardless, I decided to look up her business and it turns out her company helps children of well-heeled parents get into prestigious colleges by managing the application process. I had to smile remembering recent news stories about some issues in that vocation (e.g. Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin). I resolved to bring it up if it turned out she had a sense of humor.
We get on the phone, and it turns out she doesn’t have a sense of humor. She starts with, “I specifically stated in my profile that only Jewish men should message me. Are you Jewish?”
I stated I was not and apologized, saying I hadn’t noticed the requirement. In the meantime I pull up her profile and sure enough, buried at the end of her long screed is a sentence to that effect. I apologized again for wasting her time and wished her well on her search.
Then she backpedals, saying maybe we should continue talking since we were already on the phone. Fine, I had nothing else going on, it was during the lockdown of COVID – and we chatted pleasantly for a couple of hours.
I asked why she isn’t primarily searching on JDate rather than Match, if that is a critical issue. Her response was that the men on JDate, while Jewish, were also too nebbish. We didn’t remain in contact throughout the pandemic, but the conversation stayed with me. My profile stated I wasn’t looking for anyone too religious, so it wouldn’t have worked out regardless.
Takeaway, read the whole profile – no matter how tedious.
Image by Erika Wittlieb
“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay