Ginger’s Soapbox: Poaching Dentist

palmerWhen I’m accused of being a bleeding heart liberal, I plead guilty as charged.  Those watching my Facebook page or Twitter feed lately probably think I’m an anti-hunting radical.  I’ve been appalled by the story of Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil, a protected lion, while on a $55,000 hunting safari in Zimbabwe.  My boyfriend isn’t a liberal – he is actually a (gulp) Republican – and he thinks the guy is a piece of shit.

Believe it or not, I’m not against hunting.  I actually have some locally-harvested venison in my freezer at the moment.  I have friends who hunt deer for food and to help keep the population under control.  While I feed the deer that wander into my back yard and would never permit someone to kill them, I understand that moderate hunting is a necessary evil.  I’m not all that fond of venison – not enough fat – but a couple of times a year it’s an interesting dinner.

Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist, isn’t just some guy who likes to eat game.  He’s a wealthy dude – he could pay more than $50,000 to kill a lion in Africa – who likes to kill animals so that he can say he did it and take home a trophy.

There has been extensive debate online regarding whether he is a sociopath or a psychopath.  I’ve weighed in on some of those debates.

That’s because I think people who have to kill animals for fun are sick.  Yes, I know some of them.  Trophy hunters are on my Facebook friends list.  That doesn’t mean we are close pals, and it doesn’t mean they are psychologically stable.

If any of them were to engage me in a conversation on the subject, I would suggest they sit down with a therapist and discuss their need to kill animals for enjoyment.  I see photos of dead giraffes and zebras and wonder, “What the hell is wrong with these people?”

I have love and empathy for people with mental health disorders.  None of us are immune from such diseases.  But when we discuss Walter Palmer, we aren’t talking about a guy with depression or bi-polar disorder.  We aren’t even talking about a real hunter.  He didn’t go out into the wilderness and track down a wild animal and kill it.  He paid an obscene amount of money to “guides” who baited a beloved lion out of a PROTECTED habitat so that he could kill it at night via “spotlighting.”  Something that is illegal in the U.S. for deer hunting, by the way.

That’s not hunting.  That’s like opening the zoo gate and shooting the animals when they wander out.

That guy is a sicko.  He has some strange need to kill majestic, wonderful animals.  The media have dug into his background and revealed that he pled guilty to a federal charge of poaching a bear, and that he was also disciplined by the dental board for sexually harassing a female employee.

Predators are predators.  Walter Palmer is a predator.  It’s ironic that he killed – for fun and sport – a beautiful animal just for the sake of killing.

Anyone who thinks that is emotionally healthy should book an appointment with a psychologist forthwith.

Introducing Ginger’s Soapbox.

soap boxWhile I promise not to offer excessive commentary on current events, there have been a few news stories lately that I have felt compelled to write about.   Instead of inundating my readers with daily posts, I will try to space them out so that I can alienate as many people as possible on a weekly basis.  Welcome to Soapbox Wednesday.

Five news events have been significant recently:  Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn, the Supreme Court overturning state bans on same-sex marriage, new interest in the significance of the Confederate battle flag following tragedy in South Carolina, the Affordable Care Act standing up to Supreme Court scrutiny, and a Minnesota dentist/trophy hunter who allegedly killed a beloved lion lured away from a protected habitat.

Although these topics are inherently different, there are common themes that tie them together: tolerance, acceptance and love.

Occasionally, I will continue to ruminate on various current events.  I am drawn to those that highlight tolerance, acceptance and love – or those that expose a lack of those qualities.

Reflections on Father’s Day

Dad and me in our house in Bergoo, WV.  I was about 5 years old.
Dad and me in our house in Bergoo, WV. I was about 5 years old.

On the occasion of Father’s Day, I’m taking a break from my usual upbeat or sickenly sentimental blog posts for some reflections on Fatherhood.  When it comes to my thoughts on Fatherhood, I forfeited my feminist card many years ago.  Fathers get a bad rap all the way around.  As a woman, I truly believe that we won’t be equal in the workplace and elsewhere until we permit men to have equal parenting responsibility.  I also believe that men aren’t equal parents, not because they don’t want the responsibility, but because mothers won’t permit them to be.  Those women are shortchanging their children at the expense of their own identity.  That is sad.

Those who know me well know that I had a close relationship with my father.  Not so much with my mother.  I grew up in a traditional family of the time — Dad worked.  Mom stayed home and took care of my sister and me.  She was a housewife, which wasn’t so unusual in the 1960s and 1970s.  Today, my sister has the same lifestyle — except she’s a stay-at-home-mom, not a housewife.  Honestly, the role is different today than it was 40 years ago.  More on that in a future post.

I idolized my dad.  He was kind, soft-spoken and loving.  He was very wise.  He liked to read.  He was curious.  An electrician by training, he read up on everything from fly fishing to bird watching.

What many don’t know is that my dad was raised by a single father to five boys.  His mother — my grandfather’s second wife (his first died in the flu pandemic of 1918) — died when my dad and his twin brother, Gene, were nine years old.  My dad and his four brothers were raised by his father, albeit not really well.  He was raised mostly by people in the community, his friends’ parents, and his older brothers and their wives.  He was a bachelor until the ripe  age of 32, which was old for a single man in 1961 when he married my mom, who was a spinster at 23.

And what few people know is that he died in 1990 of a massive heart attack while he was talking on the telephone with me.  I still cry when I think of it.  I still miss him, dream of him.  And I wonder how my life would be different if he were still around.

My mom, who was only three years older than I am now when Dad died — eventually remarried.  My stepdad was a great guy, an educator and hobby farmer.  His wife had passed away after a long battle with cancer.  When I looked back through old photos, I realized it was he who handed me my diploma when I graduated from high school.  Like Dad, he was wise and quiet.  Unassuming.

My dad’s last words to me were, “how are the floors coming?” I was living in an apartment that was the first floor of a circa 1800s mansion.  My roommate and I had made a deal with the landlord to refinish the hardwood floors in exchange for lower rent.

Some shrinks say that people typically choose partners that are most like their primary caregiver parent.  I have to say that is true for me.  Most of my romantic partners are more like my mom than my dad.  Only one stands out as being like my dad — both physically and personality-wise:  tall, thin, blue eyes, brown hair, square jaw, unassuming, quiet, intellectual, goofy sense of humor. I blame his similarities to my dad for the reason I kept going back to him, despite the fact I should not have done so.  I’ve learned my lesson.

But I’ve always chosen men who are good fathers with strong family ties.  Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have strong family tie of my own..  After my dad died, my sister and I drifted away.  We both maintain an arms-length relationship with our mom.  Those who are closest to us know why.

My ex-husband and I spent the better part of our 13-year marriage fighting for custody of his son, lobbying for changes in West Virginia’s child custody laws (which we achieved) and counseling other disenfranchised parents who were cut out of their children’s lives for no reason.

My current partner was a single father, gaining custody of his toddler twins at a time when fathers didn’t get custody of their children.  His kids are adults now, He did a terrific job raising them, with a lot of help from his parents, sisters, and his second wife.

My former stepson is a wonderful young man now.  I marvel at how he has developed as his own person — despite his parents and step-parents — since I met him when he was three years old.  Now 21, he lives in a major city, attends a prestigious university, and asserted himself against the influence of both parents in a manner that I uphold and admire.  I can’t take complete credit for his greatness, but I like to think I contributed to his upbringing and shaped him to be himself, despite opposing forces that might disagree. We stay in touch, and I consider him my son.  I’m deeply proud of him and admire him for being courageous enough to assert himself at a young age.  He has a terrific shot at being happy.

I was childless by choice.  Honestly, it never occurred to me to have children.  My father imparted the implication that intelligent, successful women don’t give birth.  My mother seemed so very unhappy with motherhood it made the institution very unappealing (my sister, however, is blissful as a full-time mom to her kids, so it wasn’t an attitude universally applied).  I greatly enjoyed my role as Stepmom, which is a lot like being an aunt or grandmother.  You get the glory without the responsibility.  I wish I were closer to my own niece and nephew, who are delightful, if challenging, and adorable children.

My current partner’s children are adults who are very different despite being fraternal twins.  They were largely raised by a stepmother who is no longer part of their lives.  They don’t need a parental stepmother’s relationship with me.  I appreciate each of them for the individuals they are, and contribute by offering my own observations regarding their parental needs to their father.  The daughter is beautiful, successful and independent.  The son is a sensitive free spirit (more like me), who doesn’t seem to care that he isn’t living up to his parents’ expectations.  I like that.

Sometimes I think that the only man who ever truly loved me was my father.  Intellectually, I know this isn’t true.  I know my partner loves me.  I know my former partners loved me, too.

But nothing will ever be the same as a father’s love.  And that’s a good thing.

To all of the fathers in the world — especially those who have been disenfranchised from their childrens’ lives for no reason– I wish you much more than Happy Father’s Day.  I wish you a very happy life, and an amazing relationship with your offspring.

Isn’t it ironic? Or is it?


The name of this blog is Killing Spiders because its original intent was to focus on content of interest to single women over 40.  Single women, I mused, have to kill spiders themselves because they don’t have a partner to do the deed.

Readers could construe this as sexist — why can’t a woman kill a spider?  Why is it the man’s job to kill spiders?  What about same-sex relationships, who is supposed to kill the spider?

Since starting this blog in 2013, I have become part of a couple.  Legally, I’m single, but I live with my significant other in a committed relationship.  One would think that I no longer have to kill my own spiders.  After all, I have this man who cleans my garage and fixes my plumbing.  Isn’t he doing pest control, too?

Think again.

I live with a guy who WON’T KILL SPIDERS!  Or snakes, either.  But we don’t have any of those crawling around the house (hopefully).

My Honey is an environmental conservationist.  He loves animals and respects the world’s ecosystem.  His undergraduate degree is in Biology.  He won’t kill a spider, or most any bug, except mosquitoes and cockroaches.

His creature-respecting side is one of the things I love about him.  My cat, Nala, likes him better than she likes me.  While I find it sweet and touching that he is angered and saddened when a careless motorist hits a fox on the highway, I’m a bit annoyed by the “no dead spiders” rule.  I have to surreptitiously squish the creepy arachnids when he’s not looking.  I’ve flushed a few when he isn’t home.  But the other day, when he carefully trapped a spider in a plastic cup and asked me to set it free in the back yard, I grudgingly did as he asked.  After all, he goes along with some of my whacky habits, too.

One could say the fact that I fell in love with a spider protector is ironic.  What do you think?

The definition of irony.


Those of us of a certain age remember the Alanis Morisette song “Ironic,” which was in frequent rotation on radio stations in the mid-1990’s.  The ironic thing about the song is that none of the situations of which she croons are ironies.  The lyrics have been analyzed for appropriate use of the literary device, and guess what? No irony!

Most of you are probably thinking, ‘OK, no big deal.  This chick has to kill her own spiders.  So what?’ Or, ‘why the hell is she going on about irony?’  Well, I’m a writer and irony is one of my favorite devices.

Wait, there’s more!

A couple of weeks ago I woke up one morning with a large — and when I say large I mean GIANT — red, bruising mark on my calf just under the bend of my knee.  My thoughts immediately went to the worst possible cause of such a wound — blood clot.

My wound a week after it appeared.
My wound a week after it appeared.

After an Urgent Care visit, a trip to my primary care physician and a vascular imaging study, my family doctor’s initial diagnosis stands:  spider bite!  I’m still taking some high test antibiotics and the wound continues to be swollen and discolored.

I went home from my second doctor visit and told my Sweetie what the doc had said:  it’s probably a spider bite.  She told me three times to check the bed for spiders.  I thought this silly, as I had just changed the sheets.

“Oh, there was a spider on the bed a few days ago,” my spider lover said.

I squealed: “WHAAAAAAAT???? Where was I? Did you KILL it?!”

“You were asleep.  I flicked it off onto the floor,” was the answer I received.


So what do you think?  Is it ironic?


Does every woman want a Lloyd Dobler?

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Those of us – especially women – of a certain age remember Lloyd Dobler, John Cusack’s character in the 1980’s movie Say Anything.  A famous scene from the movie places Lloyd outside his romantic interest’s bedroom window, boom box held high above his head, blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”

The movie came to mind recently when my own boyfriend told me that a young male friend of his had called him because his longtime live-in girlfriend had left him.  For context, this young man is 30-ish, and he’s calling upon his older professional mentor for advice.

The young couple, both in the military, had been geographically separated for a couple of months because the woman was away for training.  After she had been gone a month or so, she asked her boyfriend to come visit her on a three-day weekend.  He told her he couldn’t come because he had invited friends over to celebrate the holiday – which happened to be Mardi Gras, and they live in New Orleans.  She is on the West Coast for her class.

My boyfriend, a seasoned and sexy 52-year-old man, did what any man would do in such a situation.  He turned to me, “What should I tell him?”

“Tell him to get on a damn plane, pronto,” was my answer.

We all know that Lloyd Dobler got on the plane.

What does the fact he didn’t get on the plane say to me?  That he’s not all that into her.  She did the right thing, as heartbreaking as it must have been.  Perhaps she even found someone else, someone who IS into her…someone who would get on the plane.

She had been gone a month, and there was a three-day weekend – which also included Valentine’s Day, along with President’s Day, followed by the famous Fat Tuesday.

It appears as if she suggested that he fly out to see her on short notice.  What I suspect is that she had been patiently waiting for him to suggest they get together on the three-day weekend that coincided with Valentine’s Day.  When he didn’t make the gesture, she invited him to visit her.  He took a pass.

His obligation to his friends was more important than seeing her, when she had been gone a month.  There is really no way to undo that.  A truckload of flowers, maybe.  I suggested that he get on the next plane and beg forgiveness.  My sweetie pointed out that this dude doesn’t have that kind of money – that buying a last-minute plane ticket to the West Coast would be pricey.

If she – and the relationship – were really that important to him, he would have told his friends that something suddenly came up; he would have dipped into savings or run up his credit card and hopped the next plane to the West Coast.  After all, he’s asked her to marry him.  She’s supposedly the love of his life.   Isn’t she worth it?

In love, actions speak louder than words.  A relationship counselor I know says you should pay attention to your partner’s actions rather than their words.  They may say they love you and you are a priority, but do they show it, every day, in their deeds?

Grand romantic gestures don’t have to be expensive, like buying a last-minute plane ticket to a far-away city.  I know a man who once had a cop buddy pull his girlfriend over on her way to work and deliver a bouquet of flowers.  I know another man who quit his job and moved hundreds of miles two weeks after meeting his wife, whom he married a few weeks later.  Another guy I know, a very frugal gentleman, spent $10,000 on his wife’s engagement ring.  Yes, he could afford it, but this is the same guy who never bought himself a new car.  The fact he spent big bucks on her that he wouldn’t spend on himself meant something.

I’ve made some grand gestures, myself.  I’ve driven hundreds of miles and rented a pricey hotel room to be near my boyfriend so that we could see one another while he was traveling for work.  I once flew to Newark, NJ on my lover’s birthday to have dinner and spend a (very short) night before getting back on a plane and flying home for a work meeting.  I’ve driven three hours in sleet and snow at night to spend time with the object of my affection, only to get up early the next day for a three-hour commute to my office – and then did it all again the next day.  I’ve surprised my man at the airport when he returned from a business trip, recruiting a friend to drive me an hour to the airport, so that we would have an extra hour in the car on the way home.

Over the years, I’ve also been the recipient of grand romantic gestures.  I have gotten off of planes to be greeted by flowers and large signs proclaiming love.  One guy I had gone out with once – and wasn’t interested in – got off a plane from a business trip (to the West Coast, no less) and drove straight to my office to see me.  Colleagues wondered why this didn’t win me over.

The answer is:  I wasn’t that into him.

The romantic gestures – big or small – are a reflection of one’s level of interest in their partner.  Making an effort, being thoughtful, demonstrating that they are worth it—those are the things that really matter.

I don’t know the young woman on the West Coast, but I definitely know how she feels.  She feels like her boyfriend thinks she’s not worth the effort.  What she did had to be painful, but it was courageous.  She got out before it was too late (in the interest of full disclosure, I’m told she had done a couple of things to indicate she wasn’t that into him, either – but who knows why?).

The bottom line: if he wouldn’t make the effort now, would he do it after they had been together a few years? After children came along?  I don’t think so.

Let’s not write this off as typical male thoughtlessness.  Men will go to a LOT of trouble for a woman they really want and love.  Sadly, she’s not it for him.  One day he will find a woman for whom he will get on the plane.  And this young woman will find a man who thinks she’s worth getting on the plane for.

We all know how Say Anything turned out.  Lloyd Dobler was the geeky weirdo who got the hot chick because he made her feel like the only woman in the world.   He put aside his pride, let his emotions rule, and stood outside that window with the boom box blasting a really stupid, sappy song.

Then he got on the plane.

Never say never again

never never landNever say never.

I used to hear that a lot from someone who used to be in my life. The line was used to dangle possibilities that would never become realities.

There are a lot of things I said I would never do, especially in the context of relationships.  Jaded, skeptical and wounded, I had a laundry list of things I said I wouldn’t do to accommodate potential love.

That was then and this is now.  I would say my dog ate the list, but I don’t have a dog.  I’m eating the words – and being reminded of advice I gave others – on a daily basis.  That’s OK—it’s good to remember what lack of hope feels like.

Some people say that you don’t know what you lost until it’s gone.  I’ve learned that I didn’t know what I was missing until I found it.

As a single, unattached female I had a good life.  Good job.  Nice home.  Fantastic friends who are my family.   I was enjoying life and not troubled by the fact that I wasn’t in a long-term relationship.  For me, relationships with men aren’t about finding someone who meets a list of criteria.  It’s about finding someone with whom I have that inexplicable feeling: part chemistry, part intuition, part emotional and intellectual attraction.  I simply call it “IT.”  Despite joining online dating where magical computers are supposed to crunch the data and churn out The One for me, I wasn’t finding “IT.”

I’ve always believed that your life can change in a single moment that otherwise would be unremarkable.  I’m not talking about those huge, tragic moments – like being struck by lightning or having a horrific accident.  I mean those ordinary moments where a seemingly insignificant decision changes your life.

For me, it was in a crowded room packed with hundreds of people.  I noticed an attractive man that I had never seen in this establishment before.  And I did something I said I would never do:  I sent him a drink.  Everyone who has read The Rules or He’s Just Not That Into You believes this is a bad idea. But my filters were clogged and I was being encouraged by a friend.  After what seems like hours and drinks were exchanged, I needed to head to the ladies’ room.  En route, he stopped me to talk.

In that instant, I knew.  This could be “IT.”

Fast forward a mere 107 days.  I wake up every morning feeling extremely lucky.  And very thankful I broke one of my rules.

Since then a lot of my “nevers” have gone out the window.  We spend every available moment together.  Social activities with friends and family, grocery shopping, bike riding, reading, watching TV…we do most things as a team.  We like it that way.  Early on we had the conversation about how much “alone time” we each need.  Ironically, both of us feel like we were alone for a long time and we like the companionship.

We’ve begun our relationship with the assumption that it will last indefinitely.  How can you begin a relationship thinking it won’t work?  We both know what we want in a relationship and we both want the same thing.  That’s key.  There isn’t that imbalance of one partner wanting more (or less).  We have a lot in common but also some stark differences. We balance one another and make one another better.

We know we are lucky.  Some people never find what we have.  We also are savoring the moments together, because we know we won’t always have them.  I met him during the period after he retired from a first career and before he embarks on his second.  He will soon begin a challenging job with a lot of travel and we won’t have this opportunity to spend so much time together.

It’s not been without some significant adjustments.  Bringing a partner into a close-knit group of friends who are like a family hasn’t been without struggle, and even a bit of unfortunate drama.  Personalities clash.  Cultures collide.  Feelings are hurt.  It’s a lot like stuffing four women who don’t know one another into a tiny cruise ship cabin for a weekend (I’ve done that, too).

People feel slighted, ignored.  Highly social, I was always available for everyone whenever they needed me – whether for partying or a shoulder to cry on, I was there.  I was the “wing woman” for other single female friends.  I was a drinking buddy for platonic male friends.

Now I’m joined at the hip with a virtual stranger.  The others aren’t getting their “Ginger time,” and it’s a challenge.  But they had me to themselves – and I had them – for a long time.  It’s his turn to have some of my undivided attention.  And my turn to finally be loved the way I need to be loved.   I’m incredibly happy and for the first time in many years I feel valued by someone who wants to share my life.

Those who genuinely care about me understand and tolerate this guy they aren’t so sure about.  They accept that I AM sure about him.  I know it’s not always so easy.  If I turn out to be wrong, I will be better for the experience.  It’s certainly been worth it so far.

In the end, we are all adults and we will adjust.  After my partner and I return from a month in Europe, he will go back to the workforce and reality will be injected into the fairytale.  I will have plenty of time on my hands to share with all of those people who are missing me.

Will we live happily ever after?  Stay tuned.

But I’ll never say never again.

Social media and dating

A friend recently sent me a link to a wonderfully funny and insightful blog post titled Being Single 14406096347_9a3c83b3a0_bin 2013. While I was entertained, the post also caused me to reflect on this whole business of being single.  This is my response to his witty post with a few of my own thoughts sprinkled in…although I’m not nearly as funny.

Calling vs. Texting

My mama beat the words “girls should never call boys” into my skull on a regular basis.  This caused me to spend at least two decades sitting by the phone.  I didn’t leave the house until cell phones were invented.  I respectfully disagree with Mr. McMurran’s statement that women love to text.

Sure, texting is convenient and doesn’t make much noise. It’s helpful while in meetings or if you need quick info that doesn’t require a phone call.  But if you want to get to know me and let me know you are truly interested, pick up the phone and dial!

I went out on a date with a man who doesn’t text.  At all.  Ever.  He’s very proud of it and a bit critical of those of us who are smart phone addicts.  I turned my iPhone on Do Not Disturb and put it in my purse for the duration of the date.  To my surprise, I didn’t suffer any ill-effects from technology withdrawal.

Did this man pick up the phone and call me to ask me out? No!  He sent me a message on Facebook.  So much for eschewing technology.  To his credit, he first mentioned it in person at a group gathering (I call that “testing the waters” or “sending out a trial balloon”).  And while he didn’t ask for my phone number at the time, it’s easily accessible since we belong to the same group.  He had no excuse for not dialing.

He did ask me for my number in that initial Facebook message. Has he called me? No.  But I got another Facebook message relatively promptly post-date. Maybe he was paying attention.

I recently received a phone call from a man I met nearly a year ago but hadn’t heard from in months.  What did he want? He wanted to know if he could call me sometime. That made me scratch my head and look quizzically at my phone.

Frequency of communication

The line between showing affection and stalking is a thin one.  Waking up to a good morning text makes me smile.  Seeing a goodnight text on my phone, or talking to a special someone before going to sleep, will give me very pleasant dreams.

A text every hour for no reason? Not so much.  Especially if he sends a text to follow-up on why I didn’t answer the last text.  Men also get mad if you don’t text back timely – so don’t say women are being sensitive.  Feeling rejected is an equal opportunity emotion.

I’m also confused about when or how often to text, so men aren’t alone in that department.  Bottom line:  if I’m dating someone regularly and exclusively, I expect to hear from them every day.  Why would I put all of my eggs in a basket that only calls me when it wants to play?

I have occasionally broken the “don’t call boys” rule.  But if he’s not calling me on a regular basis, I’m not calling him.  No chasing guys that don’t want to be caught — there are plenty who DO want to be caught.  They jump right out of the water without me having to bait a hook.

Social media

To friend or not to friend, that is the question.   As a public relations practitioner, I understand the metrics associated with social media.  Likes and shares are good things — they show that your audience is engaged (not in the romantic sense), fond of your brand and paying attention. Isn’t that what we want in a potential romantic partner?

If a guy is offended by posts or photos that indicate I’m out with someone else, he needs to remember he would be there (literally, or by asking for a commitment) if he really wanted to protect his territory.  If he doesn’t want me to date other people, he should just say so!

Social media and online dating have made it easier for shy people to date.  People will write an email when they don’t have the guts to call you up.  Recently, a really nice guy emailed me on Facebook to tell me how much he adored me but never had the guts to tell me.  I appreciated the gesture, even though I’m not interested in dating him.

Recognizing this effort took a lot of courage, I thanked him profusely and told him how much I appreciated it and was sincerely flattered.  Right before I told a fib and said I’m in a relationship*. He graciously accepted defeat — and didn’t unfriend me.  I’ve been unfriended by men because I rejected them.  Fine, who needs friends who can’t take no for an answer?

Relationship status

I have a relative who changes her relationship status on Facebook with some regularity.  On any given day she could be engaged, in a complicated relationship, in an open relationship or  married.    I know a guy who announced his divorce by changing his relationship status on Facebook from “Married” to “Separated.”   When I separated from my husband I hid my relationship status on my page.  I eventually changed it to “Single,” but I keep it hidden.  If people want to know, they can ask.*

If I were in a mutually exclusive relationship with someone and he asked me to change my relationship status* to “In a relationship” and make it public so that people would know I’m off-limits, of course I would.  If he wanted to link our pages so that it says, “in a relationship with….” I would do that, too.  But if he doesn’t want to do that, I wouldn’t cry and think he doesn’t love me.

It’s the real connection that counts.  Isn’t that what all this dating stuff is about?

*Since this blog post was written, I’ve entered an exclusive, committed relationship and changed my relationship status on Facebook at the request of my beloved.

Do I look like I need a handyman?


Aside from killing spiders (or chasing snakes), I prefer to do my own home improvements and other chores.  Sure, it’s wonderful when people offer to help, and I sometimes will take you up on it.  Especially from tall friends who aren’t afraid of heights when I want to place Christmas decorations on that ledge in my living room that’s 20 feet off the floor.


Recently I assembled a kitchen island.  It took quite a while — three Cary Grant movies. When I was finished, I had one injury and a satisfied feeling of accomplishment.

kitchen island

I actually would have been finished sooner if it weren’t for the plentiful offers of assistance from male friends.  That’s what I get from posting on Facebook that I was assembling furniture.  It really wasn’t a cryptic call for help.  I know how to dial (or text).  I just thought it was more interesting than what I ate for breakfast.

While I appreciated the offers of assistance — at least one of those who offered is an engineer — I didn’t want that.  Also, in the interest of full disclosure, one was from my roommate.  The comments I’m about to make don’t apply to him.

Soon after becoming single again, I learned that a shy guy’s way of flirting is to offer to fix stuff.  When I was dating my ex-husband (before he was my husband), he showed up at my house with a tool box on a regular basis.  I’m not falling for that trick again!

I thanked everyone politely but said I could handle it myself.  What I really wanted to say is this:  “If you are trying to get into my pants, you’re going about it the wrong way.  I don’t need a guy to assemble a kitchen island for me.  I need a guy to take me to a movie.  Or dinner. Or for a drink.  Or a walk.”

But I didn’t say that.  For the record, at least one of them (the engineer, no less) has taken me to dinner and drinks.  He’s also offered walks, hikes, trips to tourist attractions and all manner of other date-ish activities. He also has offered to fix my toilet.

I’ve declined all offers of dates and home improvements because I’m not interested in dating him.  He knows this.  But he still texts me every couple of days to see how I’m doing.  I have determined he’s just a nice guy.  Or maybe he thinks he will catch me in a weak moment of gratitude after he’s installed 1,000 square feet of flooring.  Nope.  It’s not happening.  I’m not going to lead him on by letting him assemble my furniture.

Some women like it when men do things for them.  If a guy isn’t fixing something, cleaning something or cooking something, they aren’t quality prospects for them.  Not me.  I don’t want a guy wasting time by  fixing something or cleaning when he could be spending quality time with me.  Cooking is another story…unless he is doing it because he is cheap.

This doesn’t apply to my roommate or other men who are friends and not “romantic prospects.”  If you’re a guy friend, I might ask you to help me fix the toilet.  And even a potential romantic partner might get roped into killing a spider if he’s around when one emerges from the web.

After you reach “relationship” stage and are spending every waking minute together, it’s different.  Things need to be fixed, cleaned and cooked.  Errands need to be accomplished.  Bills paid.  Sure, it’s more fun to do that together sometimes.

But unless they’re sleeping in my bed at least four nights a week,* hands off the power tools!

*Since this post was written, I started sharing my home with my domestic partner who regularly fixes things.  Sometimes I even help.

Voting in Virginia

Photo credit: Flickr/sharonmleon
Photo credit: Flickr/sharonmleon

Ever since becoming a Virginian four years ago, going to the polls to vote makes me pensive.

The thing that struck me most the first time I voted here — during the 2009 General Election — was how close campaigns are allowed to distribute literature at polling places.  Candidates or their supporters have to stay 40 feet away from the door of the polling place. In my native state, campaigners have to stay at least 300 feet away.

This morning, as I walked between the Democrat and Republican tents lined up along the sidewalk outside of my local elementary school, I came to a conclusion:  Virginia really doesn’t like for people to vote.  The rules for absentee voting are very strict.  Early voting is nearly non-existent.

This year, the General Assembly (what’s called a legislature in most other states) passed an even more strict Voter ID law.  This year voters have to possess particular documents to prove their identity before being able to cast a ballot.  Next year, a photo ID will be required.

All of these things are designed to keep people from voting.  In a state where turnout is typically abysmal for state elections — since they are held in the bizarre odd year, instead of during the Presidential cycle — one would think that too many people voting would be a good thing.

But there’s a big problem when a lot of people vote.  They elect candidates that appeal to the average voter. Special interest loses its edge.

Many people don’t understand why voter ID laws are bad for democracy.  After all, most of us are accustomed to flashing our driver’s licenses for a variety of reasons.  Many of the arguments in favor of voter ID laws seem to make sense — who wouldn’t want to take steps to prevent voter fraud?

Proponents of voter ID laws conjure up images of busloads of undocumented immigrants posing as registered voters and throwing the election.  It appeals to latent — and sometimes not so latent — racist attitudes among the electorate.

Those arguments overlook a few facts. The biggie:  Virginia hasn’t prosecuted anyone for committing election fraud by impersonating a voter.  That’s because that’s not the way election fraud is committed.  Rounding up unregistered voters to impersonate registered ones is too difficult — and obvious.  It can’t be committed in enough volume to sway even the closest race, especially a statewide or national one.

The most common type of fraud is  committed by election officials.  It’s much easier to get a handful of people to conspire to vote the ballots of no-shows on election day than to round up a busload of people to pretend to be someone else.  Hence, the tales of dead people voting.  A dead person doesn’t vote because someone walks into the polling place pretending to be them.  A dead person votes because an election worker (1) knows they are dead (2) doesn’t remove them from the book, and (3) votes their ballot.

And with voter turnout at less than 50 percent, there are a lot of unused ballots that can be voted on election day if such a scheme were to occur.

Even that type of insider-driven election fraud is harder to pull off these days.  Technology makes it more complicated than checking a few boxes on unused ballots.

When I walked into my polling place today I was greeted by two workers sitting at a table with the sample ballots.  I got in line to receive my ballot and one them – a rather surly woman for so early in the day — snarled, “Get out your ID.”

I walked up to the workers manning the election book — which is now on laptop computers — and handed her my Virginia voter registration card.  She scanned the bar code, bringing up my file.

Then she did something that shocks and annoys me every time I go to the polls:  she asked me to state my name and my address.  In a room full of people.  Why don’t I just yell out, “Hey, I’m a single woman living alone! Here’s where I live — come rob me!”

Meanwhile, another woman there was arguing, mostly pleasantly, with one of the workers.  It seems she had moved (across the street) and they were quibbling over whether she could vote. She didn’t have the required voter registration card, and her Virginia driver’s license had her old address on it.  Eventually they determined that since she was registered in that precinct, she could vote.

Voter ID laws — especially the ones that require photo ID — really don’t keep unregistered voters from voting.  They keep registered voters from voting.  Why, do you say, would policymakers want that?

Because the people most likely to have difficulty getting a photo ID are the very old, the very young, or non-white.  Keep those groups from voting and, guess what? Special interest has a better chance of running rampant.  After all, college students, senior citizens and minorities tend to favor candidates that like social programs.  When you fund a lot of social programs, you can’t fund all that special interest.

If my grandmother were alive today she would be unable to vote in Virginia when photo ID laws go into effect.  And she would have a difficult time voting now, since she never had a driver’s license, never worked (no employee ID card), never attended college (no student ID) and none of the utilities where in her name (no utility bill with her name and address).

You may think — gee, all she has to do is go to the DMV and get a non-driver ID card.  Sure, but after a 101-year-old woman gets to the DMV, takes the number and waits hours for her name to be called, how does she prove her identity?  A birth certificate? I’m not sure Grandma’s birth was ever recorded. She was born at home on a farm in the hills of West Virginia in 1912.   For the purpose of this blog post, I tried to find her birth record in the county where she was born.  The courthouse there burned down many years ago and the originals of the older records aren’t available.  The state department of vital statistics didn’t have her birth certificate, either.

Even if she could get her birth certificate, it would be a process to navigate — on the phone or in person.  And it would cost money to get the official copies of her birth record as well as the ID card.

Energy. Time. Money.  All so that a 101-year-old woman —  who was 8 years old when women won the right to vote — could cast a ballot on election day. Why would policymakers want to make it difficult for someone who proudly voted all of their life to continue to vote?

The right to vote isn’t supposed to cost you anything. If it does, that’s called a poll tax, and those became illegal many years ago.

But this is Virginia.  The same state where the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 kept mixed race Virginians and native Americans from being issued birth certificates.  The diabolical law — which also criminalized interracial marriage and permitted involuntary sterilization of the poor, minorities and the mentally ill — wasn’t fully repealed until 1975.

Do you get it now?  Voter ID laws are designed to keep people who aren’t white from voting.  I had a hard time believing it, too.  Then I delved into the nasty history of racism in Virginia and realized that we were the capital of the Confederacy long after the Civil War ended.

Today, Virginia will elect a Roman Catholic Governor.  That might surprise some of you — after all, if one were to believe the ads, only one of the candidates is Roman Catholic.  But yes, both the Democrat and Republican candidates are Roman Catholic (the Libertarian candidate is a non-denominational Christian, but he isn’t close enough in the polls to be a contender).

In 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was elected, being a Catholic candidate was a big deal.  Today, not so much.

Some voters may be surprised to learn that the candidates share a faith because one of them tends to want to legislate his religious views and the other does not.  He’s even endorsed by a religious organization that has been making repeated robo-calls to my house.

The religious aspect appeals to a lot of voters.  After all, don’t we all want someone in office who shares our values?  What’s wrong with making things that are against your religion illegal?

Next time, the winning candidate might be someone of a different faith.  You wouldn’t like that, now would you? How dare they go imposing their religion upon you!

Yep, the founding fathers had a few good ideas (despite being a bunch of old white guys) and separation of church and state was one of them.

If Grandma were alive, how would she vote?  Despite being a very religious (albeit Protestant) conservative Republican, Grandma looked with disdain upon men who “don’t believe in preventing babies.”  Even though she was born in 1912, Grandma was concerned about making sure women had access to birth control.  We never discussed her specific views regarding reproductive rights, but I had the impression she was pro-choice, or at least non-judgmental.

No wonder they want to make it hard for her to vote!