Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wednesday Night Racing....Again(Nostalgia Post)

Today would have been my grandfather's 103rd birthday. My amazing Pops who loved nothing more than to be out on a sailboat. He is my hero--and I hope I've done him proud over these past 5 years, obsessively racing on a bunch of sailboats.  Last night was the opening race of the Wednesday Night Series on the West River. So glad to be back out there.  As I looked around at the scenery (rare when so focused on getting the boat to go faster), I also recognized in me that same feeling:  There is no other place I'd rather be than sailing. 

Four years ago almost to the date, I met Xing Fu for the first time down on the West River.  My son & I used to drive down every other Wednesday to race & I remember the first time we went down there (also because I mention the time in a blog post) & I saw Xing Fu--it was cold & wet & he had on his foulies with a knit cap--too cute. Granted, never thought too much beyond that for that season but look where we are now.  And last night we sailed together again down there & I also realized that there is no other person that I'd rather be sailing/racing with. So a tribute to my Pops & a tribute to the West River where I found my passion renewed.  I also recently revisited past posts about sailing--I have learned a TON from that first post & the first race back out--reading about my Miles River experience on the Catalina 27 & how handling the kite was really baffling at the time & how the set & douse were beyond me.  Even my vocabulary has changed as well as my knowledge of the tweaks in the sail trim. I love how I've grown into the sport again & I love that I have a partner who loves it at least as much as me.  Yup, being a nostalgic sop but someone's gotta do it!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The MRS Degree

I'm very bummed that I'm not sailing today & Xing Fu is--couldn't catch a ride for NASS so I'm relegated to a day at home wishing I were sailing...*SIGH*.  Needless to say, I am quite jealous & even the boats that I do sail with aren't even going out to practice so I'm land-locked.  Bleh.  So I've decided that a little blog post is in order, having very little to do with sailing other than the fact that Xing Fu & I met sailing.  And when we did, it was a very long time after we'd both left college.  OK--what am I getting to you may wonder.  Well, I'll tell ya'.  

A few weeks ago I came across an article in Slate magazine about a Princeton mom Susan Patton admonishing girls in college about "hooking up" & not seeking a husband.  When I first read it I was hit viscerally by the thought that we are returning to my mom's generation--go to college to pick up the MRS, not the BA or BS.  'Cuz that's what women back then did.  And my thought was--wow, glad my generation isn't like that, although there were plenty of my sorority sisters back in '89 who did--with huge ceremonies after our meetings when they were pinned, lavaliered, etc. Such still giving huge credence to the MRS culture in college.  But, even so, most of us left college without a husband or a prospect of one & went off to our "adult" lives to eventually marry someone.  And now, 24 years after I graduated from college, the "hook up" culture is where it's at.  And Ms. Patton feels that these college women are missing out on the good guys by not looking for a husband amongst the eligible men of Princeton.  And you know something?  I think she's spot on...sorta.  A lot of the advice was pretty offensive but I do think she has a point.  

Here's what I believe.  Yes, she's a snob because she is assuming that the elite intellectuals are only available at these schools.  Technically, although I didn't go to an Ivy League school, I did happen to go to one of the US News & World Report's top 15 schools so I do think that my alma mater counts. And, is everyone out there searching for the smart guys?  What's your first criteria for a potential keeper?  Actually, one of my top 10's was being smart.  So yeah, truth be told--I was looking for someone who could keep up with me intellectually.  There are a lot of other quite nearsighted statements on her part that I'm sure you can find out in the ether but I contend, looking back almost 25 years that mebbe I should have been a little more serious about who I dated in college than just playing around for 4 years because frankly, it took me almost 20 years to actually find the right guy. Some of you may find this just as offensive as Ms. Patton's statements, but in some ways I wasted a lot of time, caused my self some real hardships (divorce, eg.), & some serious heartache.  And, by my senior year of college I was living with a doozy.  Stoopid.  Inappropriate. And he was not my intellectual equal, plain & simple.  And I allowed him to make me less intellectual as a result.  Because, he was older & thereby an "adult" & I was not & I was easily influenced back then. So here's one flaw in Ms. Patton's logic--I was nowhere ready to be married at 23 right out of school.  But who says that you have to marry the guy you're dating right out of college?  You don't. But mebbe you can marry him a few years down the road.  That's more realistic.  And you met him in school.  Because really, the men at my college really were the most appropriate for me. There's a laundry list of qualifications that I could list but know, two of the biggest (in retrospect) were a certain level of intelligence & similar interests.  And what's wrong with that?  But here's the rub, I didn't understand that then. So Patton has motherly advice with 30+ years' worth of experience:

           " Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I    went there.
I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again—you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you."

"This concentration of men who are worthy of you".  Indeed.  Her message is to support these young women's futures--to help them realize that they are worth more than a "hook-up" or the "bad-boy", or "the cool-hipster dudes".  Flawed, because not everyone wants to marry, or for that matter, even marry a man. So she is speaking to a specific population--my younger self.   I spent how many years with unworthy men.  Of course I am happy to have a wonderful child with my ex-husband, but he was unworthy. It took me 20 some-odd years to find Xing Fu after the fact & when I review his worth--he is really my match and having gone to another top 15 school--well, there it is--chances are, we might have met had we gone to the same schools.  He is very bright & intellectually stimulating, we definitely have much in common with interests (sailing anyone?), & our values & backgrounds are very much the same.  That is what Ms. Patton means.  And she is right. In this day & age, the ability to meet men gets harder & harder as you age--at least the appropriate ones.  I think about my friend who has been struggling for years--she is a couple years younger than I am & keeps getting involved with the most inappropriate guysAll she wants is the guy for the rest of her life. As women age, the pool of eligible men diminishes.  Reference to Sex And The City: 

 "And, as you move from age box to age box and the contestants get fewer and fewer, are your chances of finding your soul mate less and less?"

 Yeah, it sucks & yeah, the pool gets smaller.  And yes, Ms. Patton is a snob--but you know what?  So am I & I make no apologies.  It is who I am & where I came from (elitist private girls' school) and there are lots of us snobs around--including where my son goes to high school.  And you know what?  Wouldn't change a thing because he will go to an elite school & get a top-notch education too.  Would I have written to The Princetonian?  No frickin' way!  But the girl's got balls....In fact, here's a good article that says just what I think too:

So, full circle.  It took me a really long time to find the right guy--Xing Fu.  And he is sailing--something that I desperately want to be doing right now instead of writing this post.  But just imagine if I'd met him when we were younger--he probably would have been the right guy for me then too.  But I'm one of the lucky ones--I did eventually find him.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Secret

I keep seeing this piece of advice & I know that I've talked about it before.  Relationships rarely work when one or the other person involved doesn't feel like their needs are met emotionally.  This key need goes way back to childhood-- believe it or not when you were sitting on the kitchen floor in a fit of crying rage as a 5 or 6 year old, calling out for mommy or daddy & they didn't come running to make it all better, whatever it was.  Whatever the need was, it gets echoed as an adult when you feel like your significant other isn't hearing you, respecting you, or appreciating you & that big empty chasm of emotional need opens its yawning mouth in your chest. Sucks if that's where you are in a relationship & usually the outcome is eventually a break-up or divorce, if the couple doesn't try to get things back on track.  I remember reading the book entitled The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman & talking with Xing Fu about it very early on in our relationship & we both took the quiz to find out what ours were. Here's a link to an online version:  I think it's important to revisit stuff like that every once in a while--good to spark a discussion & a check-in to see how we're doing.  If needs are met--great!  A relationship can then build great intimacy, trust, and ultimately a wonderful commitment. I know that when I feel like we've connected well, my inner anxious child ( who just loves to taunt me) quiets a bit, & lessens her strangle-hold on my often inability to trust. Overall calm prevails & harmony in the household (cue little chirping birds & friendly bunnies). 

I think this emotional need is especially important when you are in the middle of a blended family.  There are just too many opportunities to feel unappreciated, resentful, & anxious.  Maybe that's why so many "step-families" don't make it.  The primary couple loses track of what they need from one another & then the children find the chinks in the armor to create discord.  It may not be so intentional on the children's part (or maybe it is), but deep in the dark reaches of children of divorce, who wouldn't want mom & dad reunited? I know that both Xing Fu & I work hard at our relationship & try to stem the insurgencies, whatever they are.  One of the hardest things to do is to remain a solid unit & we work on this a lot--because when it breaks down, I know that's when the trigger is pulled on my emotional needs.  I feel that anxiety & resentfulness climb up my throat.  And then my trust is shaken....vicious circle to be sure.

All of this is advice for an established relationship--and if you are feeling disconnected & unloved--start a discussion--not accusatory like "YOU DON'T LOVE ME!" But suggest that you want to re-kindle the spark or go look at the link to take the quiz.  Sometimes this stuff seems silly, but ultimately, I don't think so--if your partner really is vested, at least they will try....

I began thinking about all of this because an acquaintance of mine just doesn't seem to get it--I've been watching her on again, off again, rather abusive relationship unfold on FB for about 8 months now.  It reminds me a little bit about my ill-fated relationship with the Bull.  She tends to run head-long into what she terms as "in a relationship" with guys who just never meet her emotional needs--and it's one after another--2 weeks on, then done, & then another dude.  All the while she keeps claiming that all she wants is someone who will be with her at night & watch TV, etc., etc.  You know--grow old with me kinda thing.  These guys are just so inappropriate--but I guess they meet an initial need--the rush & flush one gets at the beginning of a relationship.  And even after this dude cheats on her, borrows money & doesn't give it back, cheats on her again, buys her roses, & then disappears, she still wants him back. I really hope that she takes a real look at herself & figures out what she needs from herself first & also what she needs from a mature man as none of these guys is very mature. Then & only then will she be able to find her "grow old with me guy" I think.  Yeah, some schadenfreude, but also my wish for her to eventually figure it out--everyone deserves to feel loved don'tcha think?