And The Winner Is…


(Drum roll please)

I got a call from Chuck last night before I left for work. We hadn’t planned to see each other for a couple of weeks. He said that he wanted to see me, that he needed to talk with me. I asked if we needed reservations at Perkins. We shared a nervous laugh. We worked out the details and Chuck drove down this morning.

Since I worked last night, I was sleeping when he arrived. After coffee had been made and a muffin eaten we began a bit of small talk. Getting caught up on the happenings of the past week. We were interrupted by a knock at the door. My daughter and granddaughter stopped by. Fortunately I had baked a Pineapple Upside Down Cake and my granddaughter was delighted. They stayed visiting with Chuck and I for nearly three hours when my daughter headed home to start dinner. My granddaughter was having fun helping Chuck with his new phone. They were taking pictures and recording videos. Then she put on her bike helmet and gave me a hug. She said a perky, “Good Bye Chuck” and was on her way. I do believe she’s warming up to Chuck.

I mentioned the loud grumbling coming from my stomach and we headed promptly to Mitchell’s Sports Bar in Leland, Iowa. Leland Iowa just happens to be named in a song by Kevin Costner… “you can’t buy a thing in Leland Iowa.” Kevin Costner is a good guy. He came with his band and did a free concert in a barn for all the residents of Leland Iowa. Then he went for lunch at Mitchell’s, and which I have lovingly named, The Kevin Costner Cafe’.

I ordered a Grilled Chicken sandwich that was topped with bacon, grilled onions and BBQ sauce. Chuck ordered ‘The Big Pig’ sandwich. Lots of pork on there. As we waited for our dinner, I mentioned that he had something he had wanted to talk to me about. And so it began. We both proceeded with caution. Gently talking and listening to each other. I told him about my concerns, and he clarified some things. He said that he’s quickly discovered how I have endeared my heart to him. And how when we’re not together that he’s wishing we were.

As our food arrived, I took a couple of moments of the timely diversion to consider my thoughts, feelings and possible options. I thought about feedback I’ve gotten from my daughter and all of you out there in blog-land. I said a quick prayer and took a deep breath. All this while watching Chuck wrestle with The Big Pig sandwich.

After dinner we took a drive and continued our conversation through the blurtings of random thoughts. We drove through Forest City, down the airport road and then north along the edge of the golf course, Chuck asked what I was thinking. Well, that’s usually a loaded question. Instead, i felt calm and peaceful. I opened my mouth and just the right words came out. Not too many, not too few. “We have something special here. If we can step forward with patience and honesty, I think we stand a chance.” Chuck smiled and said that he’d like it if we continued through the summer and meet each other’s friends and keep spending time with each other’s kids. Just take our time and see where it goes.

Suddenly the urgency I had felt about making a decision right now was gone. His words were heart-felt and sincere. I felt a calm tenderness between us that there hadn’t been before. We drove along side the Winnebago River until we reached the Swinging Bridge. I shared about walking along here with the kids and the park where they had played. All the thoughts of the convent and the cliff had disappeared.

“I have dreams for us Jeannie. Meeting you has changed my life. I think about the future and I never did before. Before Marge died I never thought about it. Now I think the best is yet to come.”

It was a nice thought to end the day on.


All In Or All Out


The moment of decision has come. I have to decide. Am I all in or all out? Over the past couple of weeks we have been laying cards on the table. Getting honest. Getting real about who we are after those perfect first impressions diminish.

The Perkins Talks were pretty tough. A lot was revealed on both sides. His issues were triggered. My issues were triggered. The dust is settling. And it’s come time to choose.

I feel like I’m on a game show and I have to choose between door number one or door number two. I’ve been given clues and the audience members are screaming their opinions. Only I can’t make out a single clear word because they’re all screaming at once. I seriously have a headache. And I’m afraid I’ll make the wrong choice. I have before. I have ignored red flags, flashing yellow lights, and the safety gate that’s closing as I approach. I have gone in the ring not realizing the opponent was down right evil. Then I show up with my coy smile, manicured nails and a pan of pumpkin bars and hope for the best. They like what I’m offering up. And then I get the emotional crap kicked out of me cause I didn’t see the boxing gloves.

Part of me wants to run away and join a convent, vowing never to sign up for online dating ever again. The other part of me wants to step off the proverbial cliff and fall with the faith that he’ll catch me at the bottom. Trouble is: it’s a long way down there and I”m near-sighted.

He says he’s all in. Wants a future with me.. and yes the “M” word has been spoken in passing followed with a ‘someday’. It’s a big contrast. Convent or cliff…

What to do, what to do?

I was All In until The second Perkins Talk. The baggage he shared is alive and well and living in Dallas. With all sorts of history, internet access and apparently unlimited cell phone minutes. He had asked me to be exclusive… but he isn’t. He told me he could be trusted and was loyal. But to whom? Certainly not me.

I’m disappointed. And I’m proud of myself too. For seeing and questioning. But still disappointed. (Insert big sigh here.)

He’s been talking and explaining for three days. I’ve heard it all. Over and over. How much he loves me. How much he needs me in his life. Everything I mean to him. All the things he can see ahead for the two of us.

I told him about my blog post..There’s The Door. About people loitering at the doorway to his life. Not coming in, but not getting out of the way either. And he seems to not own a broom or maybe he doesn’t know how to use one. Or maybe he doesn’t want to. (ouch)

I talked to my daughter… she is wise.
I told her that I should just cut my losses now and walk away.
She said that I should wait a little bit.
I reminded her that people don’t choose me. That they say how awesome I am, how they love me and want me, need me… but then they choose someone or something else. Never me.
She said, “But what if he is about to choose you and you aren’t there?”

Damn it. I hate this. I feel all crazy inside. This outcome is resting on his word and his actions. Ugh…

This morning when Chuck called, he asked if we were okay… I said we’d have to wait and see.

Me? Wait? (Insert wild crazy laugh here, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

I wish I could just turn to the last page in this story and see how it all turns out. I think either way, I’m gong to need tissues.

Perkins Talks


I’m not sure how it worked out this way, but Chuck and I have had some pretty intense conversations at Perkins lately. The first time it was over lunch, the next time was dinner and the last one breakfast. We had the same waitress twice.

It was while we were at Perkins eating that we’d open up a new topic and who knew it would go where it went. But we certainly got there. In a hurry no less. By the time we were all talked out, we were also emotionally drained.

I guess to cut to the chase, we stumbled upon old baggage that was trying to unpack itself in this new relationship. So over the Tremendous Twelve, the Tomato Basil Soup or the Cheese Omelet, we were wading through all sorts of old stuff. Not necessarily a light-hearted date, but an added brick or two to the foundation of our relationship. It’s beginning to be quite the structure. And some how, we managed to still be standing and together at the end of each conversation.

No offense to Perkins or the Tremendous Twelve, but I think we will frequent a different restaurant next time.

After the second Perkins Talk, we were sitting in the three season porch at Chuck’s. We sat there in sort of a stupor and watched the sun set. It was lovely, I think. I remember seeing it. But my mind was swirling with thoughts about our earlier conversation. What does it all mean? Can we continue moving forward? Should we? Or should we part ways now and save ourselves a lot of risk? Can we manage the risk? Is it really even current risk? Or lessons learned from past errors in judgement?

That’s when the phone rang. I took a deep cleansing breath hoping I’d regroup as Chuck answered the phone. I could hear his voice out in the kitchen talking with someone. I used the moment to decide we’d be alright. We would, I’m sure of it.

It was when he got to the doorway, with that ‘OMG’ look on his face that I wondered if I had made that ‘sort of’ decision prematurely. The phone call was from a piece of that baggage. (Is it still called baggage if it just happened?) I’m not really sure.

The sun had managed to set in spite of my thoughts that time was standing still. Life goes on whether you’re ready for it or not. Guess it was karma that came along to bite him at just the right moment.

I was feeling so overwhelmed. Nauseated even. I told him I thought I should just go home. Panic spread across his face as my words registered in his ears. I’d only had three hours of sleep, and it’s dark and home is two hours away. Now I had the ‘OMG’ look on MY face. I felt too exhausted to deal with this now.

His baggage had scratched upon one of my issues. I was trying so hard to be logical. To be wise. To not panic right along with him. One of us had to be strong in this moment. I wish the cat would have stepped up. Slacker. Instead, she just crawled up on my lap and waited to see what was gonna happen.

What ensued was another hour of couples therapy with me leading the session. I hate having to be my own counselor. But sometimes it’s the only option.

I explained what was going on inside of my tired little head and my ego-bruised heart. He started explaining.. then justifying… (which sort of pissed me off) so I pulled out the big guns. I had no choice.

I began, “If the shoe were on the other foot… and I was the one who had gotten a phone call like that…. would you be sitting here saying it doesn’t matter?”

Even though it was dark, I saw the color drain from his face. He opened his mouth and quietly admitted that he wouldn’t be very happy about it either.

BINGO! He got it.

You’ll have to stay tuned for the resolution. I’m not sure we’ve found it yet.

In The Blender


Here we go… on to the next step. I’m heading to Chuck’s for the weekend. We’ve got a bunch of plans, some of which include activities with his adult kids and going out as a couple into his community. We’re blending our lives in small ways.

Finding time with our work schedules to actually spend time together is a major undertaking in itself. I met three of his kids on the first day that he and I met. But now, we’re sort of becoming fixtures in each other’s lives. A little bit at a time. And our kids have been hearing about Chuck and Jeannie.

I’m not quite as on edge as these fish in the blender, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous. Chuck and I get along so well and we have so much fun. I’m hoping that our kids will see that. It’s always a bit tense introducing someone new into our lives. It changes the dynamic. They are only used to seeing their dad with their mom.. and now there’s this new Iowa Woman hanging around with their dad.

Chuck and Jeannie have been hearing from the kids too. And from coworkers and friends. It seems everyone has a strong opinion about our new relationship. We have compared notes on what we’re each hearing from out there.
“Maybe you should take some time apart to see if it’s real.”
“Maybe you’re going too fast.”
“Maybe it’s too soon.”
“Just go for it.”

Here’s what Chuck and Jeannie decided. We’re simply going to enjoy each other. We’re going to keep learning about each other by spending some time together… which equals about once a week. We send emails now and then. We talk on the phone every day.

He and I have had some deep conversations, laying our cards on the table and talking about our pasts. We’ve chosen to keep some things just between the two of us. Sounds reasonable since it’s our relationship.

We have only been dating a few weeks. And it’s been wonderful. No plans have been made long term, cause it’s not time for that yet. But we’ve made it past the first date, and the second. We’ve listened intently to each other and we’ve shared the hard stuff from our pasts, and we’re still standing. That alone says this is something special. So we’re gonna celebrate that.

Eat Pray Love Guy and That Iowa Woman are going on a date to see a movie this weekend. It’s pretty normal, no worries everyone.

Elusive Sleep – Where Oh Where Are You?


The lyrics begin, “Cool like the flip side of my pillow.”  I think all sorts of random things like that when I’m lying there in a totally sleepless state.  I flipped my pillow a lot during the three hours this evening that I was trying, oh so hard, to fall asleep.

I work the night shift and it just ain’t easy to sleep during the day time.  You’d think I’d just be so darn exhausted that sleep would just happen.  Today, I did fall asleep.  Chuck calls me every morning and we visited for a while.  He told me “good night” and I went to sleep.  For three hours.

That’s when Hunter began knocking on the door.  He got out of school an hour early today.  I staggered to the door and let him in.  Then I put on my perky mom face and pointed to the snacks while I grabbed my robe.   My whole fashion statement has changed since I began working nights last summer.  I wear pajamas.  That’s it.  I’m always either just waking up or just going to bed.  Pajamas.

I have this whole pre-sleep routine that I maneuver through every morning when I get home from work.

I  hang up my coat.

Turn on the electric blanket, number 6 (to pre-heat)

Wash my face

Brush my teeth.

Turn off my phone

Get a glass of milk

Turn on the fan (it blocks random noises)

Turn down the electric blanket, number two

Pull down the covers

Kick off my pink fuzzy slippers

Crawl in bed   (it’s snuggly warm)

Close my eyes.

It seems simple enough,.  But some days, it doesn’t work to make sleep occur.  Some days I just wanna be out there in the sunlight.  Running errands, getting groceries, lunching with friends, even doing laundry.  So this list goes through my mind as I lay there.  All the things I wanna be doing.  But I know I need to sleep cause I gotta work again tonight.  I need to be conscious and focused while I’m there.  Sleep helps that happen.

But tonight, coffee is gonna help that happen.

Pajamas and coffee.  My new best friends.

You + Me = We


Chuck and I are going back and forth between “going slowly and taking our time” OR “jumping head first into the pool”, so to speak. We met a few weeks ago. And we have found a pretty solid connection. We spend countless hours on the phone (3-5 hours a day) talking about everything and nothing. We’ve met each other’s kids and we’re heading out into the world as a couple. It’s all falling into place. Just what place is yet to be determined, but we’ve decided it’s solid enough to be exclusive.

We are a lot alike, Chuck and I. Our personality types are very similar. Our interests and past experiences are a lot alike, and at the same time, very different. I think that’s what makes it so interesting.

He’s been stuck in his writing for a couple of months. Then he had an inspiration for a poem. He wrote down the title. That’s where he stopped. So just for fun, I pounded out a little poem too, using the same title. I am clearly no poet. But I read him what I’d written. He asked if he could use pieces of it. And voila, we’re writing together.

It feels as if we’ve been together for ages. Comfortable. Warm. Safe.

We had some time together today, and he asked me to come along to a lunch meeting he had scheduled. It was all very interesting. Watching the dynamics between Chuck and the other guy. Watching them handle ‘business’. Then all of a sudden details started to fly. I pulled out my pen and paper, put on my secretary hat, and started taking notes. An hour and a half later, we all shook hands and Chuck and I left. He said he was glad that I’d come along, that it felt nice having me beside him. He was able to focus on the conversation while I focused on the details.
A bit later, we both had to venture off to work, but just before I left, he said “it’s ‘We’ now.

I’m sure I’ll find out just what that means in time, but for now, I’m liking the sound of ‘We.’

My Last First Kiss


As I think about this new relationship and the probability (or at least great hopefulness) that there will be a kiss…
I have to admit, I’m feeling some anticipation about it. I’ve even gone so far as to imagine it as we talk on the phone. (I’m still paying attention to the conversation… really!)

I know he’s a good kisser.. I just know it. He might even border upon epic kisser. (No pressure Eat Pray Love Guy) Who am I kidding. Of course there’s pressure. The whole course of a relationship depends upon that first kiss.

Now, I have checked my lip gloss supply, because I’m fairly certain that when this first kiss actually takes place, that there will be many more to follow. And you know me, I wanna be prepared. No dry lips in my world.

(I began a draft of this blog and then got side tracked by Eat Pray Love Guy aka Chuck.)

So to continue… there was a first kiss.  At the end of our first date, just about a month ago.  And it was very special.  I can actually say it was indeed, epic.

I had been thinking of this kiss all throughout the date.  From the moment he picked me up and greeted me with a hug.  You know, the kind where you really embrace.  The fit of his strong arms around me and mine around him lead me to believe each time this happened, it would be better than the last time.  I really didn’t want to let go.  But once I did, his smile was looking right down at me.  I knew it would be a wonderful day.

And it was.  When he drove me back home, I invited him in.  We’d been driving for two hours and I didn’t feel right about sending him back on the road without a break.  I think he’d been thinking about this kiss for a whole too.  Because he positioned himself right in the center of the couch.  So no matter where I sat, there he’d be.  (I like a man with a plan.)  I sat to his left turned slightly so I could make eye contact with him.  I’d been sitting to his side most of the day and I wanted to look at him straight on for a while.

We recounted the day and smiled a lot.  Then he began his strategy.

He he looked deeply into my eyes and said, “Jeannie, I know what you’re thinking,”

I smiled and thought he’d probably croak if he really did know what I was thinking.  So I stuck with the smile, trying to make it appear as innocent as possible. I replied, “So tell me, what am I thinking?”

His responded immediately, but he was wrong.  (I didn’t tell him that though.)

He went on explaining how he knew I was expecting a kiss. And that he didn’t want to disappoint me.  That every first date should end with a kiss, especially when it was as nice as our first date had been.

Now, I hadn’t heard this approach before, and I thought it was quite clever as he was trying to plant this idea in my head.  I just smiled and didn’t let it show that I was on to his tactic.

It had been 43 years since he’d last been on a date, I gave him this one and turned slightly toward him.  He picked up on my move immediately.  He leaned in toward me… (I was trying not to smile, I didn’t want him to kiss my teeth for crying out loud!)  It’s really hard not to smile when you think you’ve got ’em figured out.  Fortunately I didn’t talk as much as I was thinking, because otherwise he’d never have had a moment to even sneak one in there.

He leaned in toward me, his right hand reaching up to pull me in toward him.  Until….  finally.. his soft, warm lips gently met mine.

I’ve never been much of a facial hair kind of girl.  But Chuck has a shortly trimmed full beard and mustache.  I have to say I found it very alluring, sexy even.  I could feel his breath on my lips as he reached for another kiss.

Yup…  I was melting right then and there.  Each kiss left me wanting just one more.  And I’m not certain how we ended this.  We can’t even say goodbye on a phone call.  But eventually he stood up and thanked me for a perfectly wonderful day.  I stood up too even though my knees felt weak.  I managed to find my balance until he got to the door.  He caught me in one more of those amazing hugs, and said good night.

Standing by my window, I watched Chuck as he got back into his car.  And I felt this warm glow inside of me.  I just knew this was my last first kiss.