In the cross-fade: As one phase disappears, a new one begins...

My husband and I put our Chelsea apartment on the market about 2 weeks ago, right after we found an apartment we liked on the upper upper west side. Since the sellers weren’t in a rush, I figured we weren’t either. I had until at least August to chill out in my current one bedroom, the one that I had moved into when I was single, before my husband and I started re-dating. I had some time to enjoy the roof in the summer time, and my eleven-year-old dog Gemma could chillax in the dog run too. I had some time to acclimate to the life stage shift that comes with moving to a bigger space that can accommodate a family, and all the psychological and emotional adjustments that come with it.

So we cleaned and de-cluttered our apartment. Showings began immediately, and fortunately I am able to work from home and can be on call to de-dog the apartment beforehand.

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As in, removing her dog bed from the floor, the sheet from her chaise lounge, and taking a lint brush to the couch and comforter on the bed. It’s her house, we just live in it. (and the rent aint cheap).

Around this same time, I had put the finishing touches on my memoir proposal, and my agent decided it was ready to go “on submission,” which means she puts together a list of publishers with names you may have heard of such as Random House, and submits it to them in the hopes that they buy it. Saying that I had butterflies is an understatement. My story, in a way, my baby, which had been gestating for years was going out into the world, and I was worried and excited. I had written a novel several years ago that had also had a shot at publication, so this wasn’t my first book barbecue. I knew what to expect in terms of process, patience, and the inevitable rejections. But this, this was different. This was not – and is not – fiction. This is real, this is true – or at least my experience of what is true now, and in my memory. With this book, the butterflies had blown up into monarchs that needed to chill the ef out. The book also represents my very own gestation, from young, self-absorbed, and clueless twenty something through the disillusionment and identity crisis of a single divorcee, and then to the third act of me – finding myself and subsequently my true love, my husband, whom I marry at the wizened age of forty.

On the morning my literary agent hit the proverbial “send” on my memoir, my real estate agent emailed my husband and I to say that an offer had been made on our apartment, and they wanted to move in as soon as possible – in no less than four weeks. This would mean we might need to find a temporary housing solution in the interim.

Luckily, I was in a taxi with my best friend and colleague, Kelly, because I burst into tears. “Isn’t this good news??” she asked, looking at me with compassion and confusion.

I nodded at her, as tears streamed down my face. “I feel like I got shot out of a canon, ” I told her, aware of how dramatic that sounded. “It’s a just a lot,” I said.

But tears? Like this? This was indeed good news. My thoughts immediately went to Gemma, who had just turned eleven, and this only made me weep more. I thought of her then, curled up on her throne in her palace, white face tucked into her lumpy chest – my furry baby with whom I had moved close to ten times with in the last decade, from multiple temporary homes after my ex-husband and I separated, to NYC in various sublets. Who had been my companion through all my joy and pain, and the thought of moving her yet again undid me.

But that couldn’t be the reason. Her new apartment would be so much bigger, with more territory to mark.

A few days later, the real reason dawned on me. My current apartment represents and is the last tangible vestige of the “before me.” It was an apartment that suited me when I was single and unsure of what my future looked like. It was the apartment that my husband joined me in. And now, soon, that proof of this stage of life will disappear into the past, and we will move in together to our new home – our home. This was unequivocally a joyous and momentous step and one that I had yearned for, but I don’t believe that we are able to look forward, to move forward both literally ad figuratively, without looking back at where we have been.

And Gemma represents the me that I had been. She is the one remaining thread that links me back to my former life, when I lived in LA with my former husband in my former house, and on my thirty-second birthday, I drove to the breeder’s ranch in the valley to meet her, on a mission to have a puppy. I named her Gemma because I’m a Gemini and she’s a gem and that’s the kind of cheesy shit you do when you fall head over heels for a floppy eared animal. I needed to have that dog. I needed her love.

The timing of all of this and the inherent and prominent markers of the cycles of life are not lost on me. I am getting older – transitioning into the stage of being a homemaker and a mother – as my furry child transitions out.IMG_0036

The pain and anxiousness I am experiencing must be growing pains. Or a shedding of skin. Like a caterpillar hanging upside down, getting ready to be a butterfly.

Or like standing in a crossfade. One stage of my life is fading out, and another is fading up. And I am standing right at it’s plexus, where the frames on the end of one film strand begin to darken, and a new strand, a new scene – a new life – begins to brighten.

 

Why do men like younger women?

As a self proclaimed cougar, it might seem odd that I haven’t asked this question before, but perhaps it is because I’m no longer dating younger guys. Rather, I’m seeing a lot of older men falling for “girls” (which I will call them here) in their twenties. Call it the reverse-cougar. 
The reasons seem obvious:
1) Their faces and bodies look younger (read: good).
2) Girls don’t yet have the emotional baggage older women tend to have.
3) Girls are not as threatening as women in their 30’s or 40’s who tend to be stronger and more successful.
4) Girls “have time,” which allows the relationship to develop casually without the pressure of time. A guy can follow the standard chronology of dating, living together, getting engaged, then married with kids – in that order.
5) With a girl, a guy can cling to the idea of having “more than one kid,” as opposed to with a woman in her mid to late 30s.
6) Girls don’t necessarily know who they are yet or what they want, so they’re not imposing it on (or challenging) their boyfriend.
7) Girls look up to an older man who can guide and teach them, and it makes a guy feel manly.
I get it!
But I never thought that there was another appeal: immaturity.
Immaturity is sexy to a guy, because it disguises itself as “mysterious” and hard to read, and the inconsistent behavior that comes along with immaturity plays games with the heart.
Those of you who read this blog know I’ve dated up to three guys ten years younger than me, where the breakups all came for generally the same reason: difference in life stage and experience. Yeah. Duh.  And so ever since my latest cub breakup, you could say I have been avoiding expending energy on guys that are more than five years my junior, by staying open to men forty and older.
While that hasn’t yet proven effective (no new partner has appeared), I’m fine with it. And I’ve made many new friendships with cub-age guys, without any temptation to turn it into more. Besides, most of these guys have girlfriends whom are younger than them, in their mid twenties.
One of them happens to be an ex, who began dating a girl 14 years my junior, and seems to be very happy with her. I’m not jealous or disappointed. I predicted it, and part of me feels a touch of “I told you so.” It only reinforces the reason for our breakup.
A few other guy pals of mine in their 30’s are also in the midst of budding relationships with twenty-five-year olds, and I’ve noticed a kind of emotional obstacle course these girls put them through, ie. a few months into the relationship the girl breaks up with the guy, for reasons that range from jealousy, caprice, or fabricated irrational grievances.  
Guess what happens next? Rather than calling her on it and putting his foot down, or even telling her he is finished, the guy does the opposite. He suddenly realizes he reeeally likes this girl, and must win her back. Suddenly, a guy who wasn’t even sure he was that into her, decides that she could be “the one.”
Why? Is that all it takes? A fight, followed by a breakup and some ego bruising, to poke at a guy’s heart and mobilize him into action?
Maybe these younger and less mature women are onto something. Looking back on my relationship with my ex-cub, I recall being open, communicative, and understanding (and I believe he would agree). He always knew where I stood, even after we broke up. I do however remember him saying one thing that stuck: “You were consistent, Cougel. Being with you was easy.”
Mistake? If I had been a pain in the ass, or dumped him without cause a few times, perhaps we’d still be in a relationship. The thought has crossed my mind.
That’s silly, I know.
Immaturity isn’t apparent to the immature. Whether you’re in a relationship with someone immature, or in an argument with an immature friend, trying to convince them that their behavior is immature, or how it affects you, is futile. Sometimes it can take years, until that person grows up and looks back to realize it.
After my divorce, when the dating scene was brand spanking new to me, I was oblivious to these signs too. I was immature in love, and tended to want the guys who were inconsistent, unevolved, and obtuse with their emotions. I couldn’t read them (or their cryptic texts), and I mistook that confusion for a fluttery feeling, a thrill, which I described as “love.”
Is it frustrating to see these guys getting in a twist over girls who are clearly putting them through the ringer? Yes. But I guess it’s their problem. Or their wish.
After all, I dated younger men for a while and couldn’t see it either. So I understand it. I’m just glad I woke up.
Or grew up.
But to all those girls (and women too) who still behave immaturely in relationships (and I am not saying I don’t go there occasionally too), I might venture to say: don’t fight it too hard. Don’t try to change too much. Because it seems to be working. 
Is it  possible that immaturity can deepen – even mature – a relationship?

Jumping the Cougar (not in that way).

There’s been talk. About Cougars. Specifically, in reference to this blog. Many of you who meet me exclaim, “You’re too young to be a Cougar!” Your faces twist in confusion, but I detect a hint of anger in there too. What is that about exactly? Is the question really, “If you’re not over forty, like all Cougars are supposed to be, why in the world would you brand yourself as one?”
Good question. I’ll follow up with another: Why should the term Cougar be so rigid, defined as a woman over 40, with a derogatory connotation?
In response, I’d like to revisit one of my first posts (see link below), “Cougar versus Cougel.” I’m not a Cougar as pop culture defines it: “desperate over 40 with bad botox trolling bars for young men” kinda thing. I’m a Cougel; a Cougar redefined. It’s not really about age. It’s about “coming of age.” After you’ve figured a few things out, know yourself, and go after what you want. For some of us this happens at 25 and some at 45. It all depends on what you’ve been through up until that point and how it defines who you are. So what if you’re dating someone who is older than you, or younger? What’s the difference? Besides, shouldn’t it be up to you to define yourself, rather than leaving it up to society and the media?
We are all, whether we admit or not, obsessed with age. The older we get the more we become aware of and feel the passage of time and its implications. Minutes are measured in dog years. We realize we need to be more conscious and deliberate with our decisions. But is that such a bad thing?
Courtney Cox was a “Friend.” We all loved her. Then she got older, and she starred in “Cougartown.” Does that mean that she was selling out, settling? Some people felt she was casting herself in that role – her real life, evolved, older woman self. And once that happened, the whole “Cougar thing” became cemented in our culture.
But that show’s old news. It jumped the shark. For those of you who don’t know what that means, you’re showing your age (insert wink here… or go watch Happy Days reruns). In short, it means something hot has passed its prime, lost its luster, etc. So with that I decree (like I have any power, but it sounds good) the definition of Cougars hereby obsolete! Cougars, the way we once knew them – while not necessarily old in age – are old news. It’s time for an update. Or a remake!
Enter the Cougel. In her thirties, post divorce, with a solid network of family and friends. And Jewish parents who want what’s best for her. And all the good (love) and bad (guilt) that comes with it.
In summary, I believe (and I hope you do too), that this Cougel has jumped the Cougar.
I brace myself for some harsh comments, but I’m used to it. Cougels have thick skin…under all that fur.
PS. More on this subject in one of my first posts with some silly urban dictionary definitions:
http://cougel.blogspot.com/2010/02/some-of-my-friends-are-taking-issue.html