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And it's only been a month and a half! Holy hell!

Already, in chat, and some in real life, I've gotten kind, well-meaning, clueless people asking if I'd ever want to date or re-marry again. If I can possibly get away with it, I treat it as a complete joke. I know they are serious, but all I want to do is laugh it off, like seriously? that is so HILARIOUS. Ugh.

Being asked if, or rather WHEN I was going to have a baby constantly pissed me off. I lived most of my 20s angry and defensive. Same song, second verse, plus many years and more experience later, I don't want to live pissed off. Life is too short. I just want to be left and let alone!

I get that people mean well, and I also get that they are talking from their own wants and needs. Just like the childfree email boards that saved my sanity in my 20s -- hooray for the advent of the internet! -- no one gets it except another widow or widower. That's the same reason I absolutely refuse to discuss education except with other teachers. Other people who aren't teachers mean well, but they are completely ignorant, and it would take far too long to explain. Other teachers get it. Other widows/widowers get it.

I can just feel again that I'm going to have to rev up energy and take yet another stand, again, for my own wants and needs. I'm pre-tired thinking about it. I had really, really hoped that once the "when will you have a baby" insanity was over, that I'd be home free. I was married, clearly people saw that I just wasn't going to have one, wasn't interested, just wasn't going to happen. I was sure, positive that I was home free! And for the past 15-plus years, I have been. But now that I'm once again no longer hewing to social expectations, I will have to say, say again, shout, yell and scream, so to speak, to assert myself. And so it begins.

I'm coming to realize now that I was protected by marriage in a big way. I let it protect and shelter me. Anything I didn't want to do with someone, or any social thing I wanted to avoid -- oops, sorry, my husband needs me. And I learned, actively absorbed over the years, the married woman's no-eye-contact out in public. I still do that: I am unavailable, unapproachable. And men simply don't approach me in public, which I like. I know in chat, there's a HUGE fantasy of being able to walk up to all women, any woman, and strike up a charming and brilliant conversation, to force a woman to pay attention, to be charming. Doesn't work like that in real life, and I do NOT share that fantasy AT ALL. I like my space; I like being left and let alone, especially in public. I like not being bothered.

Bloody hell. I really thought, really hoped I was DONE. But I swear to God, it is just amazing to me how some men just GLOM ON! I'm now beginning to be socially bothered again. Most of this has been in chat, where it's annoying enough. I've done a fair bit of traveling, and it just seems like such an American thing, this glomming on. Europeans have a way of chatting that's perfectly polite and friendly, but it's not intrusive. It doesn't glom on, invite oneself along, or want to hitch up immediately -- at least that's my take on Europeans. They move slower, and I for one got used to that way of talking. It's nice: I could go to a pub, chat all night with people, have amazing conversations, and leave satisfied, having talked about ideas, books, movies, current events and more, and not know their last names, what they did, or anything else.

Americans are different. There's this tendency to want to get to know everything about someone right away, and I hate it. As an introvert, I just cannot stand it. There is so much room for simply talking a bit at time, when you see someone. There is no need whatsoever for marathon sessions where you spill guts (shudder), or tell all.

I think that's also why I haven't yet gone to any Meetup groups: I just don't want to navigate the whole male interest thing. I need time for me, to find my new normal, without any botheration or annoyance. Friday afternoon at school, I was in the BIG middle of a letdown, and a very nice colleague came by my room (I had left the door open anticipating late papers) as he was waiting for another colleague to go to a memorial service. And I just CRINGED and groaned inside, hoping he'd leave, hoping my colleague would return at any moment, scoop him up and go to their memorial service so I could continue to putter. But no.

And now, I'm simply going to assume that he's not into me, he isn't crushing on me, that he would never ask a colleague out on a date. Unfortunately, he's also in another work group of mine, but I think I can just sit distant from him, and just be polite but always in a rush out the door. I had a slight feeling the first time I met him that I thought he kind of liked me, and the attention was nice for about five seconds, but then I was over it. And at the time, I was married, and Jack was still in his stable, relatively healthy phase, before the cancer struck. The tiny ego-boost was nice, but I forgot about it after the work Christmas party was over.

It amuses and exasperates me how men are just shocked, shocked! when I say I don't care about relationships. I tell them it isn't a priority, not something I'm thinking about, that I don't care. I tell them if pressed that I was married half my life -- HALF MY LIFE! -- so no, I'm not thinking of yet another relationship, and I really don't care if I ever date again. This, when Jack has been dead only a little over a MONTH! Oh but what about your "needs", they hint? Actually, I do just fine on my own, and I would have no problem telling some man, if he ever dared to be nosy with me, that I have a bunch of dicks in a drawer, that they can go all night, don't need to rest, are ready to go at any time, and don't have an asshole attached to them. Top THAT, sucka.

I also find it amusing and even somewhat alarming that men might consider me attractive. And yes, that's body image issues showing themselves, I get it. And I suppose the more weight I lose, and the more muscle I define, the more I'll have to put up with it, but I just don't want to. Male attention based on looks will, I'm afraid, always freak me out. I got quite used to being invisible when I was very large; it afforded a great deal of privacy and freedom that I rather got used to. In fact, I took a rather entitled view that I had every right to be out in the world and that I should be able to go about my business completely unmolested. Yes, I had to deal with the occasional jerk, which I always mouthed back at and shut down as viciously as possible, but mostly I just got left and let alone. I could go out into the world, do what I needed and wanted to do, without being stopped, talked to, chatted up, or taken out of my zone of concentration. I got used to it, and I felt entitled to that freedom at all times. Losing that layer of protection will be a loss. I don't want to stay fat and keep the diabetes, but I would honestly also hope that encroaching age will once again render me invisible soon enough, and I can go back to enjoying my life without being bothered or stopped or chatted up.

So let's hope Mr. Bobby Blueheart, my very kind colleague, keeps his infatuation WELL in check. In fact, maybe I'm complimenting myself, and he's not infatuated with me at all! Let's hope that asking me out has not crossed his mind at all, and I'm worrying over nothing. Let's hope I can successfully avoid him and just not spend any time alone with him. He's a romantic at heart, I can tell, someone who really wants a good quality romantic relationship for the long term, and bless his kind heart, because he really is a good teacher and a good man, he deserves love and happiness and I hope he finds it -- with someone else. What is it about being emotionally unavailable makes some men GLOM ON even harder? Am I suddenly a "challenge" to overcome? I hate that; I hate that SO bad. That whole attitude of being a "challenge" just reeks of non-consensuality, of forcing one's attention on someone else, of ego, pride, and manipulation. Absolutely NO THANKS to any and all of being perceived as a so-called "challenge". Just don't even go there.

So, Universe: give me space. Give me time. Give me emotional wide open spaces to explore. Give me physical, real-world wide open spaces to explore! Give me time to be with friends and family, time to pursue my hobbies. Give me strength to let go of this condo I've nested in for nearly 18 years, and move into somewhere new for a while. Give me time, wisdom, and discernment to make good decisions while renovating this house so it will make money for me for the next several years. Give me time to heal, to find my new normal, without pressure, without being bothered, without someone wanting something from me that I cannot and don't want to give! I am happy to be a loving and kind person to everyone. But I don't want a romantic relationship. I just want community, friendship, good conversation, and fun activities. And that, O Universe, is the cry of my heart right now. Community, peace, friendship, activity.

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