Nothing Is as It Seems

I often use that phrase at work after describing to my boss what the issue in the proprietary fenestration software really was. On the surface it appeared to be a generic problem with door pricing, but it turned out to be something much more nuanced. While troubleshooting, I discovered a jamb was pulling the price of the next size down because I’d changed something in the dimension lookup table after adding an additional standard door height we didn’t used to sell.

The software I work with is complicated.

So are people, and none of us are as we seem on the surface.

I’m exceptionally good at reading people’s emotions and determining whether they’re being sincere or truthful. However, I’m confused by how they present themselves versus who they truly are. Equally mysterious to me is how people perceive me and why they think I’m stupid.

Consider dating profiles. Obviously most people put their best faces forward, and I can easily determine who is making an honest effort and who isn’t. The half-hearted attempt at dating is a profile with bathroom mirror selfies and car selfies with the seat belt and sunglasses on. The guy who only wants to get laid has selfies of himself shirtless, in bed. The ones who are making a concerted effort cover all the bases: at least one full body shot, at least one photo of him smiling, showing all of his teeth (so you know they’re there), and if he has pets, at least one photo of him and his pet(s) so you know he’s good with animals. If he wants to attract an outdoorsy, active woman, he posts photos of himself hiking, rock climbing, or kayaking. Then there’s the “I’ll provide for you” guy who posts the oft made fun of fish selfie. You can also tell how much of an effort he’s making by how thoroughly he fills out his profile.

That’s about the extent of it, though. Everything else is bullshit.

Take Runner In Salem. He had a nice profile, but I didn’t read between the lines. He said he has a Master’s degree in Mathematics. Translation: “I have a logical brain and no interpersonal skills or empathy.” He said running is a big part of his life: Translation: “I’ll never go on a road trip with you that doesn’t revolve around me and an ultra I’m running.” He said he was looking for someone he could be friends with first that might lead to more later. Translation: “I’ve only been divorced for four months.”

I’ve been honest on all of my profile iterations over the years, and the length of my profiles should be an indication of how verbose I am. That should be a dead giveaway right off the bat, but they inevitably complain that I have so much to say. Why can’t I simply sit still, look pretty, and speak only when spoken to, like a nice, good woman does?

My last profile was one giant rant about how awful online dating is and how shitty men are, so there wasn’t much personal information. I don’t see the point in putting much of anything of substance in a dating profile anymore, because there’s no one out there worth dating. At least 95% of OkCupid is men dating too soon after divorce or the end of a long-term relationship. The rest of them have been on there for nearly as long as I have, but haven’t updated their photos or profiles in years. Those are the low-effort ones.

When I do have a normal profile where I attempt to sum myself up in a few paragraphs and list my interests and hobbies, I get a lot of the same thing– messages from young men in their late 20s/early 30s wanting to hook up with an older woman, and conservative men (why?). I also get a lot of messages from men I have nothing in common with. It’s such a huge mismatch. At least when my profile is an off-the-cuff rant, I get messages from men who appreciate honesty. Oh, except the last one. He messaged me because he thought it was “hilarious,” so he wasn’t actually taking me seriously. I was merely a spectacle to him, not someone to be truly appreciated for who I am. Even if sex is all I’m looking for, as a human being, I still deserve some fucking respect.

I think no matter what I say on my profile, men simply don’t take me seriously and grossly underestimate my intelligence. I see a lot of profiles of men with Master’s degrees who are accomplished, but they lack general knowledge of the world around them and they lack interpersonal skills and empathy. They haven’t lived in the same way I have. I only have an Associates and a Bachelors, but I’ve lived an extremely full life. I didn’t go straight from high school to college and then to a desk job. I worked in customer service for 20 years. I know people. I love to get outside and go hiking and camping, and yes, I am an active person. However, I also read books and the news and listen to news podcasts and a lot of music, old and new. I watch nature documentaries and know a lot about a lot of things because I expose myself to so many different topics and perspectives.

But when men look at my photos, all they see is a pretty face (attractive women can’t possibly be smart, am I right?). They read the swearing and assume I’m unintelligent. If they do take the time to get to know me well enough to learn about my background, they assume I’m ignorant, poor white trash and broken. If they don’t take the time to get to know me and don’t know my background, they assume I haven’t lived and don’t know much. Either way, I can’t win. I’m either stupid because I’m poor white trash, or I’m stupid because they assume I haven’t lived as much as they have.

I mentioned to the last guy that I want to write a memoir, and he said, “I don’t know if you’ve lived enough to write a memoir.”

He was right; he didn’t know. After talking to me he learned he’d assumed incorrectly, but then he also assumed we were incompatible. Maybe he was right; maybe we are incompatible. But it’s not because we have different backgrounds or different personalities (he incorrectly labeled me an extrovert). We’re incompatible because I’m self-assured and confident, and he’s not.

Not all introverts are shy and not all extroverts are confident. I’m confident enough to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. That’s not extroversion, that’s being friendly. Extroversion is enjoying being in groups and being energized by people. I do not enjoy being in large groups and after being around people I need to spend time alone to recharge.

The only reason I was so talkative with him was because I was excited to have met someone with so many of the same interests. I have a lot to share, and he seemed interested in hearing what I had to say.

He wasn’t.

Maybe we’re incompatible because I’ve dealt with my shit, unlike most single men out there in my age group. When a guy’s significant other leaves him after 6 years, 7 years, or 14 years… there’s going to be some damage. But they hop right onto the dating sites, as if nothing happened and everything is fine. Nothing is fine. They don’t consider why she left and what they can do better next time. They don’t do the difficult work and nothing changes. I’ve done the work.

Nothing is as it seems. The good looking, educated, successful, seemingly well put together man in the suburbs is a broken person with his priorities out of whack and a low self esteem. The brash, sometimes crass and slutty woman who cusses like a sailor and is covered in tattoos and has no fashion sense– she’s actually confident, well put together, has her priorities straight, and she’s smart.

So, on the subject of a memoir, I have decided to finally delve into that. Once again I’d like to try NaNoWriMo, but at the very least, want to try to get it finished by the end of this year. It’s tough because life keeps happening and I haven’t quite figured out where to start with it. Another reason is because I’ve assumed it’ll be painful to write. However, I think I’m finally at a point where it won’t dredge up any memories that will cause me pain. They no longer affect me because I’ve dealt with them, been through therapy, and they are all in the past. I’m in no way the malnourished, neglected, sad little girl I once was. I’m no longer afraid, no longer weak, and no longer the broken person I was in my 20s. All of that is history, and it’s time to finally write the book. I do have a starting point, but I want to put an outline together first. Even if I end up not writing it in chronological order, I want to at least have the events of my life listed in an outline so I don’t leave anything out.

I do have the tools I need. I have software for outlining (TreeLine) and for writing without distractions (FocusWriter) and for writing a book (Scrivener). Of course I’ll start with pen and paper, because that’s how I begin mapping everything out, even at work.

More to come on that…


It has to be Covid. I’ve been sick for 10 days straight and I’m almost done with a course of antibiotics. The antibiotics are knocking the sinus infection out of my system, but an itchy dry cough and insanely sore throat persist. There’s no fever and no aches, and the sore throat is consistent with what’s being reported with the Omicron BA.5 infections. It feels like someone is shoving a bottle brush down my throat every night. I can’t sleep more than about three hours at a time. I get up in the middle of the night desperate for some ibuprofen and a popsicle. If it were strep the antibiotics would be helping, but they’re not; at least not with the throat. My sinuses feel a ton better, though. When I went to Fred Meyer they were out of throat lozenges and sprays and even popsicles were picked over. The case counts here, I think, are extremely under-counted. We need to go back to wearing masks indoors and probably working from home until we can all get vaccinated against these new strains that are evading antibodies from vaccines and previous infections. People who had BA.1 and BA.2 are getting infected with BA.5 within just a few weeks. A lot of tests are coming up negative, too. For those of us who are vaccinated and boosted, our viral loads are too low to test positive. I’ve also read that BA.5 resides in the throat, so nasal swabs are coming up negative. I’ve never had anything like this in my life, and I’ve had a lot of illnesses. It’s bizarre.

Sick Day

It’s not Covid, but at this point I almost wish it were. The beauty of viruses is that they clear up on their own and you’re left with some immunity. Even if it is the common cold, you generally won’t suffer again from the same strain. I should have known this was a sinus infection, but with Covid cases rising and it being summer, I assumed it was probably Covid. So I waited it out despite a negative PCR test and it has been getting worse every day. I’m going on day seven now, and there’s no sign of it letting up because only antibiotics will make it go away.

This week I realized our mortality is always lurking in the shadows and we come face to face with it the first time we get sick with empty nest. There are no kids here to pick up my slack. The goddamned litter box still needs to be cleaned every day, and as I bend over to scoop out the shit, I feel my face throbbing. The clay dust gets in my sore throat and agitates it even more. There’s no one to bring me food, no one to bring me water or medicine… I’m 100% on my own. Then I stop and think, “If I die in my sleep, how will anyone know and how long will it take for them to find me?” I run the scenario through my head: first, my boss realizes I’m not online. He knows that’s not at all like me; in fact, during my review yesterday I was commended on my communication and accountability and the trust I’ve fostered. He would know something is up. My son works for the company, so he would contact my son. He has a key to the condo because he has to, to retrieve my will. So he would be able to get in and find me. I suppose it wouldn’t take too long. No one would walk in to find my corpse bloated and rotting, the cats eating my face.

Is this why single people my age date? Are they afraid to die alone? I’m not afraid to die alone because I already know I’m going to die alone. Do they want someone to bring them food and medicine and clean the litter box when they get sick? Being sick while alone does suck. I’m barely feeding myself at this point. It still doesn’t seem worth it, though… going through all of that just to not be alone during an injury or illness.

Maybe I’m just out of touch with literally everyone else’s reality because I’ve been single for 10 years.

I keep trying to date, hoping I’ll find that one person who wants what I want and who can handle me. Everyone either wants a long-term relationship where they live happily ever after with someone, or they say they just want sex, but don’t follow through. Then there’s what inevitably happens to me at least once every couple of years: I meet someone who’s on OkCupid too soon after the end of a long-term relationship, we meet, have sex, then meet again, then they tell me they’re not ready to date. I do have to hand it to Runner In Salem, at least he disabled his profile after our second date and wasn’t seeing anyone else the entire two years we were on-again, off-again. What that tells me is that he truly wasn’t ready to date and he was being honest.

More times than I can count, I get the “I’m just not ready to date yet” line, only to have them enter into an exclusive relationship with the next woman who comes along. That’s the serial monogamist who is never happy alone and can’t be honest with themselves, let alone me. I see right through them. It’s not that they’re not ready to date, it’s that they don’t want to date me.

I know when I’m being lied to. I don’t want anything sugar-coated. See, if someone lies to me, not only are they lying, they are assuming I’m too weak to handle the truth. So it’s a double insult.

The last guy I met at least had the decency to do it in person rather than ghost me or send it in a text. It was still pretty confusing, though, because all signs pointed to him being interested. After needling him about the “not ready to date yet” line, I finally got the truth. It was because we have different backgrounds and I text too much. So, in essence, he doesn’t want to date me because I grew up poor and neglected and I have a lot to say about it. He is willing to read my memoir when I finally write one, so I guess that’s a net positive. Although I can’t help but feel like a sideshow freak he can’t look away from.

I used to think men like him were out of my league– a graduate degree, successful career, big house in a nice neighborhood, an electric car… good looking, smart, etc. He checks all of everyone’s boxes. There was a time when I wondered what a guy like that could possibly see in a woman like me. Those days are long gone, however, because rather than settling for less than I deserve or avoiding those men for fear of rejection, I decided to turn myself into a person who is worthy of a man like that. I did the mental work and the emotional work and even the financial and physical work, although the physical has slipped a bit. But what really matters is that I did a ton of hard work to make myself someone worthy of a great guy. Now, although I only have a Bachelors degree and own a condo not a house… I check more of their boxes.

Even more importantly, though, is how my perspective has changed. I used to idealize successful men and assume that because they were financially secure and good looking and check all the boxes, they must really have their shit together. But they don’t always. The serial monogamist is out looking so soon… why? To meet new people and make friends? Was their last relationship so unhealthy they don’t already have friends? To “see what’s out there?” Why? Do they not have hobbies or other activities that put them out there with other people? Do they only want sex? That one makes the most sense, but they seldom make that clear. I wonder if that’s because they don’t want to be perceived as “man whores” (as someone I met this year put it). But you know what? I have seen two profiles on OkCupid of men who straight-up say that’s all they want, and I found it refreshing. Finally, someone who is honest about what they want!

The serial monogamist says they aren’t ready for a long-term relationship, but they don’t say what they are ready for or what they do want. I think they’re out looking for the next woman who makes their heart flutter and their knees weak because they are afraid to be alone for any length of time. And if they spend a couple of hours with a woman and she doesn’t do it for them, they move on.

The last guy I met said he messaged me because I made it very clear what I want.  The trouble with putting what we want on a profile, though, is that some people treat it like a contractual agreement. Just like the one back in… what was it, June? I wasn’t feeling it at first, and he held me to that as if I wasn’t allowed to like him more than I’d anticipated. I may say all I want is sex on my profile (I did say “primarily,” and I make it a point to use a lot of qualifiers because of men’s propensity toward treating words like a contractual agreement), but at some point  I might want more than that if I really like the guy.

So am I being a hypocrite by accusing him of not knowing for sure what he wants? I think… yes and no. I do know exactly what I want, I just won’t know who I want it with until I meet them, and it takes more than one date for me to decide.

I think what it really comes down to is that the men who are out dating so soon after the end of a LTR don’t know who they are anymore. They don’t know what makes them happy and they don’t know what kind of woman they want. They do seem to know what they don’t want… and that’s me. I’m “overbearing.” I’ve been called a lot of things, and it’s always by men who have known me for, like, a week. No one will give me the time it takes to really get to know me… and it takes a long time, because I am incredibly multi-faceted.

I think my confidence, self-assurance, and direct style of communication are a huge turn-off to men. They want a petite, vapid, helpless little thing to sit still, look pretty, and shut up. That’s the antithesis of feminism.

Dating Is a Dumpster Fire

Why do I bother?

Oh, right… because I need sex. It seems I’m one of the women whose sex drives get insanely high with menopause. That actually kind of sucks.

Unfortunately, as easy as sex seems to come by for women, even that is fraught with complications.

  • An overwhelming majority of men on dating sites are looking for a long-term relationship, and I think I’m on the aromantic spectrum.
  • Portland has an STD problem. Clackamas county in particular has a huge STD problem.
  • Men will not wear condoms.
  • Men will also rarely volunteer to get tested prior to having sex without condoms.
  • I get tested at least every two years– a 10-panel test– and this year I’m going to do it with 11 months between tests. Shit’s getting expensive. What if one day the HIV one or the HSV-2 one comes up positive? What then? I’ve been lucky so far, but luck always runs out sooner or later.
  • The men I attract are mostly much younger than I am, so they fall just outside the age range of the most prevalent STD spreaders (15-24, and I frequently get messages from men 26-30).
  • Premature ejaculation has become increasingly common.
  • As I get older and the men I date get older, erectile dysfunction has also become more common.
  • Every penis is smaller than the one before it.

Ok that last one isn’t their fault, but it’s so strange… do penises shrink as men get older, or are all the big dicks just taken?

A month ago I’d found the perfect FWB, but he flaked out. And yesterday I was actually stood up for sex by a guy who seemed way more interested in me than I was in him.

Nothing makes sense anymore. I feel like I was transported to some alternate universe in my sleep where men no longer only want sex and the Republican term “pro-life” is meaningless because guns have more rights than kids.