So This is Love

Three years ago or so, I ‘met’ a blogger online through Dude Write, a blogging competition for men that sadly no longer exists.  I suppose, in a way, the end of this story can be credited somewhat to the founders of Dude Write, Youngman Brown and Wily Guy …..so thanks, gentlemen!

But I’m jumping ahead!  You’re probably thinking, “What ending? What’s she talking about?”

Let me tell you the tale.  I met Michael Walker of Defying Procrastination at Dude Write.  He even sponsored me once for a Dudette contest week there.  I considered him a casual friend back then.  He was engaged at the time and I was, well, in my own little world.  We kept in touch through comments on blogs and occasional emails and tweets, but that was pretty much it.

Skip ahead a bit to me starting this blog and tweeting to let everyone know about it. Michael congratulated me and somehow we found ourselves messaging one another on Facebook.  At first I thought, “Hmmm, this guy is awfully chatty with a single person of the female persuasion, for a man who’s married” –until I realized he hadn’t gotten married, that his relationship had ended.

A few Facebook messages turned into daily Facebook messages that turned into messaging all the livelong day. Phone numbers were exchanged and we switched to texting.  At one point I remember being shocked to see by how much my text messages had increased…I went from 254 the month prior to us starting our text-a-thons to 1,632 the next month.  Seriously!

Phone calls began slipping their way into the madness and somewhere in the progression of messages, texts and calls, feelings changed and I was suddenly thinking of this casual friend I didn’t know all that well as something more.  My heart that had been dormant for, ahem, quite some time, shook off the dust and cobwebs and, without my explicit permission, started beating to the tune of Michael’s words and voice. I was a bit unnerved…but it’s amazing how much control one little organ can have.

When we finally moved to Skype (thank you, Skype, for existing!) I couldn’t deny that an actual relationship was forming…yes, without us ever having met in person.  I know it may be hard for some to understand, but the quantity and quality of our video chats were greater than most face-to-face dates.

One moment really stands out to me that made me realize that this was much more than a blogging friendship.  I told Michael that I had been snooping around on his blog and that I really loved a particular post of his called “Michael.”  It described his life and all he had experienced, but also how the one thing he was missing was a special kind of love.  When he replied that the post had actually been his bio on a dating site, I remember thinking that had I read it in that setting, it would have surely drawn me in.  I also thought, “I think I might be that special love he’s been looking for.”

So by the time I went to visit Michael in-person, it was no shock to me that I didn’t for a moment feel like I was meeting someone for the first time.  Instead, I felt like I was seeing someone I cared about after a long separation.  We quickly confirmed that we had a connection unlike either of us had experienced before and we knew that this was a relationship we both wanted to pursue.

Michael and I at Natural Bridge Caverns...our first adventure together :)

Michael and I at Natural Bridge Caverns…our first adventure together 🙂

Michael and I at hockey game

At a Texas Stars hockey game. I know…I’m at a sporting event…it MUST be love!

The trip was amazing and fun and all the special things that being with someone you love can be.  This man has an Excel spreadsheet for planning and he’s not afraid to use it!  Michael spoiled me…by buying my favorite chocolates online so I would have them at his house…by having  a bouquet of my favorite flowers waiting for me…by treating me to one fantastic meal and activity after another.

One night I met twelve of his friends who all came out because they loved him and were eager to meet the new lady in his life.  That alone said so much about the kind of person he is.

My trip only confirmed what I already knew…I love this man. It turns out, he is exactly what I needed at this exact time in my life. He has qualities that I never even knew to dream of in a partner, but I’m so thankful for every piece of him.

Fast forward to now and I’m sitting here looking at a bunch of empty boxes that will be soon holding my favorite belongings…because I’m moving to Texas to be with Michael!  We know there’s still more to learn about one another, but we also know enough to realize that we want to start a life together…and we need to be in the same place to do it.

So at the end of March, after Michael comes to Michigan to meet my family and friends, we will be loading up my things in a truck, including my dog and three cats (yes, he is a prince, he’s never even questioned that the furry ones would ALL be coming along as well) and heading home together to Texas.

I can’t imagine anything better.

Michael and I at airport

Michael posted this selfie of us at the airport right before I left with these words: “She’s not even on the plane yet and I’m already missing her.” How can you not love a guy like that?

 

 

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Bridesmaid

If you don’t know already, I’m 44.  This is not old-old, but it’s not young and springy fresh, either.  By this time in my life, I had thought I had long passed the call of duty of being a bridesmaid, but, if not that, then at least, at least, I never imagined I would have to wear a bridesmaid’s dress again.

Until I got the text a couple of week’s ago.

My oldest friend, Jordan, who I’ve known since 5th grade, asked another friend and me (we’ve all three been friends since high school) to be her bridesmaids in her wedding.

Okay, I thought, that’s really sweet and an honor, and the best part was I knew I wouldn’t have to wear a bridesmaid’s dress, because we had had this discussion on multiple occasions.  We were way past that stuff.  Maybe a color scheme, definitely a pretty dress, but no official bridesmaid’s gown.  Yay!

Until that text.  The text where my friend turned on me and Pam and asked if we were free to go bridesmaid’s dress shopping the Saturday after thanksgiving.

Wait, what?  Bridesmaid’s dress shopping?  We are going to be wearing bridesmaids dresses?  But, but, we agreed!  We said no bridesmaid’s dresses!  But…  Noooo!

But what could I do?  Of course I just had to say yes.  Of course I couldn’t complain.  I had to suck it up and deal with the fact that I was gonna look like an aging prom queen.  Sigh.

So when Jordan texted to confirm early in the week, I answered with a less-than-enthusiastic, ‘Sure, no problem, whatever you want, blobbety blobbety blah.’  Our friend Pam did likewise.

But then, the most wonderful thing!  A reprieve!  Jordan shared with us that the dress shopping was going to be for her bridal gown.  Woo hoo!  Now that was something I could get excited about, so I texted back enthusiastically, ‘Oh, yay, that will be so fun!  I am so excited to help you choose a dress!…yay, excitement, girl shriek, yay!’

Apparently it was obvious to Jordan that my friend Pam and I were a teeny tiny bit happy about this fortuitous turn of events when she responded to our over-the-top texts:

jordan text

Of course, this hasn’t gotten me out of wearing a bridesmaid’s dress, but I will take a reprieve when I can get it.  I’m definitely not a just-get-it-over-with kind of person.  If I can delay the inevitable, I will delay that sucker for as long as possible.

But in the meantime, we had so much fun.  I am a romantic, so watching her try on beautiful, feminine dresses made my heart happy and my eyes teary.

 

Wedding gowns

She tried on lots of pretties!

 

wedding gown from rear

She has a great booty, doesn’t she?

 

I imagine in a couple of months, you’ll hear me crabbing about bridesmaids dresses again, but for now I’m good. For one thing, she promised she won’t make us wear something ugly (but I’ve heard that one before…)  Plus, helping your oldest friend to choose a wedding gown kind of softens you up a bit.

And she did find one!  I can’t put up the pic here, but trust me, it is completely gorgeous.  Like she will be.  Aw 🙂

Good Night, Love Ya, See You Tomorrow…

My dad died in November 17 years ago.  I was shocked when my step-mom reminded me how long it’s been.  But in another way, it seems much longer than that.  I miss that guy, even though he was “a handful.”  Oh the fights we used to have 🙂  I began to experiment with eye rolling as a teen and you can guess what behavior would send my dad from 1 to 10 in .5 seconds.  So of course rolling my eyes became my favorite thing to do.

He was a bit on the controlling side (my brother will laugh at the understatement there) like, if we didn’t know our weekend plans in advance, say on Monday or Tuesday, it was a major fight to get out the door on Saturday.  But, seriously, what teenager knows what they are doing on the upcoming weekend on Monday??

And the Christmas tree.  Oh, the Christmas tree.  There were rules.  Like these:

  • All ornaments must hang; they could not rest on the branch below them.
  • No ornaments could hang from the string of lights, they could only hang from the branch.
  • Two ornaments of the same color could not dangle next to one another on the tree. Never, ever.
  • There could be no obvious “holes” in the tree.  You had to start on the inside of the tree and work outward to ensure that said holes would not exist.
  • Tinsel could never, ever be used, unless you were willing to put it on the tree one strand at a time.

It has made putting up my own tree interesting, as I find myself purposely breaking the rules, while simultaneously feeling guilty for breaking the rules.  Ah, parental issues.

And, oh, the issues from his ‘teasing.’  It could be a bit warped, like the time he hung my favorite doll from my bedroom light. Still so mad about that!

But in spite of the challenges of growing up with my father, I loved him like no one else. He was the one who taught me the passion of reading a good book.  He indulged my love of animals, all the way back to the night when he brought a stray cat I had wanted to save against my mom’s wishes in from outside and snuck it into my bed. He was smart and funny and underneath the bluster, a big softie.  No surprise that smart and funny are at the top of my list in looking for a partner.

Yeah, I miss him.  One of the things I miss the most is saying goodnight.  Even though we weren’t an especially emotionally demonstrative family, we always ended the night with a kiss and me saying, “Good night, love ya, see you tomorrow.”  In later years, his response would be “Spaghetti” because he swore I said it one night while half asleep, but I think he made that up.  Still, I wouldn’t have liked saying goodnight any other way.

dad and us 2

And there he is…

 

Good night, love ya and see ya tomorrow, guys!  (well, not really tomorrow, but just go with it)

 

P.S.  Not too long ago, the lovely Janie Junebug passed on a list of 50 questions that she answered on her blog.  I decided to add them to my About Kinley Dane section, for those that want to learn all kinds of completely useless information about me.  So if you are feeling particularly bored…feel free to peruse: About Kinley Dane.

The Name is Bond. Jane Bond. Or Not.

I have some very, very sad news.  It was a hard week for me, once I came to this realization.  Because I found out something important about myself…

I will never be a super secret spy. sad face

 

I had already had given up my dreams of being a princess (no pedigree) or a ballerina (not so gifted with the gracefulness).  I also accepted that I was not going to be a scientist (let’s just say math and I are not on the same wavelength) nor a truck driver (Yes, I wanted to be one!  But I think you have to have some sort of spacial awareness for that, yeah?).  But darn it, now I’m not going to be a super secret spy, either!

Before I was born, my dad was in the CIA.  So I always just imagined that should I ever have the inclination, I would be a natural, right?  Because surely I inherited the genes.  But I didn’t!  In reality, it turns out I would be more of a Maxwell Smart-type (old people like me will get that reference) and I’m just so dejected.

My first inkling of my less than sneaky skills was when I ‘friended’ my brother and his wife on my Kinley Dane Facebook page.  Seems innocuous, but it took me a few days to realize that if friends and family on my personal Facebook were to see that my brother ‘liked’ or commented on something on my Kinley Dane Facebook, they would know about Kinley Dane and my super secret alter ego would be exposed!

So I regrouped my spy skills and banned my brother from liking and commenting.  When I posted a picture of myself on my Kinley Dane Facebook, I think my text to him was, ‘Whatever you do, for the love of God, DON’T LIKE OR COMMENT ON MY FACEBOOK POST!’

But then I found myself commenting on my brother’s posts in one persona and then continuing the conversation in the OTHER persona.  Multiple times.  And I couldn’t blame him for that, much to my disappointment.

The final straw came when I posted the same video on both of my Facebook pages.  I took this silly video of my pets in my bed (if you want to watch it, go here) and tried to post it directly to my personal Facebook from my phone.  After a while, when it still hadn’t appeared, I tried to post it again.  And, oddly enough, it still didn’t work, so I decided to try another way and posted it to Facebook from You Tube on my computer.  That time it showed up, so all was well.  Until I logged onto my Kinley Dane Facebook page and saw the darn video posted twice there!

So that was it, slapped rudely in the face by my own ineptitude.  But there’s good news on the horizon!  There’s still one more childhood dream job I haven’t explored, yet.

I’m going to be a lion rescuer!  Or an orphaned monkey caregiver.  OR a goat keeper.  Yeah, that is definitely one I still want to be.  I mean, what could go wrong, right?

 

goats-on-trees-in-morocco-5

 

A Very Long-Winded Explanation For One Little Picture

When I had my original blog, Simply She Goes, I was Kianwi and I did my best to blog anonymously.  I never had a picture of myself, or even a human avatar, instead using things like flowers or lips to represent me out in the great, big Internet.  It’s hard to explain, but the thought of putting up my photo just made me feel too exposed.  This wasn’t really a problem, though, because lots of other bloggers don’t show themselves, either.

When I decided to start this blog and planned to build an online presence for my romance novel pen name Kinley Dane, I figured a picture of a pink flower wasn’t going to cut it.  An author needed a face, right?  But did I need to show my face?  I mean, it was a pen name, after all.  So I visited some clip art sites and searched for ‘blondes.’  Eventually, after wading through hundreds of cartoons of over-the-top sexy, I finally found a picture I could live with and bought it.  This one:

 

Fotosearch_k17144079

 

I thought it was cute and a little sexy, sure, but believe me, it was way tamer than what else was out there and it seemed to represent a romance author well.  So I slapped it on my bio and that was that.

Until I was messaging recently with an online friend.  We talked about my avatar and her sexiness, as well as the idea of having an actual picture up, so people could put a face to the name.  The more I thought about it afterward, it struck me that maybe this image wasn’t really the right fit after all.  For one thing, I started to worry that I was misleading people in a Catfishy kind of way.  I’m way more t-shirt and jeans than little black dress.  And even though Kinley Dane is a fake name, she’s still me.

I recently took a picture of myself to text to another online friend so she could see my blow out, as it looked very different from my normal, curly-because-I’m-too-lazy-to-straighten-it-hair.  I found out that it was the first time she had actually seen a picture of me, which really surprised me, because it had never been my intention to hide myself from her, it was more a side effect of blogging anonymously, I guess.

After much pondering, I’ve decided to suck it up and put a face to the name.  Yeah, it’s still a fake name, but that’s more for romance author purposes than anything else at this point.

So here goes!

 

Straight hair 2

 

I know.  This isn’t the best picture. I am like the anti-Kim Kardashian of selfies. Actually, I’m pretty much the opposite of Kim Kardashian in every way now that I think about it, but the point is, I’m not great at snapping my own picture.  I don’t remember to smile, because I’m concentrating too hard on looking in the right spot on my phone and clicking on the whatsis and when I do manage to smile, it comes out all wonky with a mentally imbalanced kind of vibe.  But since I don’t feel like waiting for another good hair day when someone else is around to take my picture, you get a serious selfie for now.  But hey!  That’s me, guys!

Okay, phew.  Glad that’s out of the way.

 

 

Heady Cheese

I was waiting on my Swiss cheese at the deli counter, when I heard muttering.  I glanced over at the customer next to me, who was scanning the meats.  His face suddenly lit up and he scooted closer to me, knocked his elbow against mine and pointed at the display case.  “I’m getting me some of that!  Hot head cheese.  Woo!”

I looked at the head cheese and then eyeballed him sideways as I scrunched my nose.  “Um, ew,” I said.  I know, it was rude, but head cheese?  Do you know what that is?  It’s bits and pieces of a cow or pig’s head and possibly brain, all processed into a hard meat jelly.  Yes, meat jelly.

 

I kid you not, this is what it looks like. (source)

 

“Oh, no babe, it’s good,” he chuckled.  “Have you ever had it?”

“Well, actually no.  I haven’t.”

“You gotta try it then!  You’re missing out.”

“Okay, good point,” I said, nodding my head.  “I don’t really know what it tastes like.  But just the thought, ugh.”

“Well you’re gonna try it today.  Come on, I’ll have the lady give you a piece.”

I stared at him for a second, shrugged and said, “Okay, sure, why not.”

For future reference?  If you say something like ‘why not’, that generally means there’s probably a reason why not and you might want to give it some more thought.  But sadly, I didn’t.

When the deli server handed me my Swiss, he gave her his order and asked her to get me a piece.  She smiled at me and quirked her brow, but I didn’t say anything.  I was preparing to eat brains.

She quickly returned with a gigantic slice of head cheese.  I grabbed it from her and peeked over at my new friend who smirked and said, “Go on!  Try it!”

I jiggled the slice a little, wincing, before I took a deep breath, ripped off a piece and slowly put it in my mouth.  Now, I don’t want to give anyone nightmares, but I’m telling you, there were chunks.  I chewed globs of brain matter, maybe some tongue or snout, all mixed in with gelatinous pieces of I-don’t-know-what.

But I’m proud to say, I swallowed and did not gag.  This was a major accomplishment, under the circumstances.

“And?” the guy asked.  “What do you think?”

“Well, um, it was interesting?”

“Okay, you gotta try some more.  Eat the rest of that slice,” he encouraged.

“I think I’m good, really,” I said with a grin.

“You need to try it with Saltines,” he said.  “They cut the spice a little.”

“I’m actually fine with the spiciness.  It’s more the pieces of brain that are a little hard to take.  So I’m all set, but thanks.”

He burst out laughing, reached over, snatched what was left out of my hand and shoved it in his mouth.  I stared at him, mouth hanging open a little, wondering if he really just did that.  But, yep, he did.  He ate head cheese out of a stranger’s bare hand.  This guy clearly lived on the edge.

I laughed and shook my head, then thanked him again and walked away, wondering how long it would take to get that taste off my tongue. As it turns out, it takes a really darn long time.

 

 

**if you eat and enjoy head cheese regularly, please don’t be offended by this post.  I grew up loving Spam and liver sausage, so I clearly have no room to talk.