The Grill as Metaphor

My ex-wife got our house in the divorce.  After a year, she decided she no longer wanted to live there.  Instead of selling, we worked it out for me to take back possession.  She had wanted to take the bbq grill, but after having trouble with it, she decided to leave it behind.  I moved back in and thought I’d grill on it.  Sure enough, it would not light and when it did the flame was very weak and would not cook the food.  I spent an hour cleaning it and when I was done, it fired up using the self light and burned very hot.

While sitting there, sipping my beer and listening to the sizzle of steaks, I realized this whole grill thing was a metaphor for our marriage.  Her tendency to want something to the exclusion of other more important things and to just abandon and move on when things got too hard.  In this case, there was quite a bit of build up.  I put a lot of it in there, but it was from more than just one person.  Because of that build up, the flame could not get started easily.  When it did, start there was a burst of flame that burned someone, but the fire itself was just too weak.  It was left behind for something that required less work or at the least was just different.
When I looked at the grill, I saw something I could count on, that had produced some good meals in the past and was worth taking some time to fix.  I scrubbed at it, even if it was kind of painful.  I got the muck out, cleansed it and made it as good as new.  I had to reexamine who I was, what I wanted and why I wanted it.  In the end, I found my fire burning much brighter and hotter.
I’m glad I got to keep my grill and the first meal I cooked on it was for some friends to warm my new house.


My marriage has ended after 15 years and now I have to get back on the horse, rejoin the race and see what’s out there.  I can say without a hint of irony that this is not where I saw myself at 40.  I was not especially good at dating 20 years ago, so the idea is a bit daunting.  However, being one that never backs down from a challenge,  I see this as an opportunity to correct past mistakes and finally find the person I am supposed to be with.

I approached this challenge like I do many others.  I took stock of my strengths and weaknesses, looked at what I wanted and then jumped in with both feet.  On the plus side, I look younger than I am, I’m fit and healthy, I dress well, have a stable job and very little drama in my life.  On the list of possible obstacles, I am the father of three kids, the divorce is not quite finished and I am still in the process of rebuilding my identity as a single man.

Since I’d prefer to be with someone that could eventually be my partner, I don’t think cruising bars is the best approach.  I joined a few dating sites.

  2. Plenty of Fish (POF)
  3. eHarmony
  4. Zoosk
To date, I have met women from the first three.  Zoosk seems to be the lest user friendly and begs for money at every turn.  Next is eHarmony that give you very limited choices, doled out each day a little at a time and goes wildly outside your preferred range. and POF have the best user interface, plenty of choices close by and most users have multiple pictures.
What I have learned in my short time.  Have multiple pictures of yourself and make sure at least a few are full body and recent.  Don’t stand in front of a mirror, don’t be shirtless, do not wear hats and no duck lips.  For both men and women, there are a lot of people putting pictures of themselves up from years ago.  Weight and hair color changes surprise you on your first meet.  Treat this a bit like looking for a job.  Know what you want, don’t settle for less and send out feelers as much as possible.  Network when possible, blind contact as needed.  The more your name and face are out there the better chance you have of being seen.

Have a thick skin.  You will face rejection…a lot of it.  Keep in mind, women have guys copy paste them all day long.  They may reach your message at the end of thirty and delete it without looking.  Or maybe you aren’t what they are looking for.  That’s fine, move on.  NEVER contact a person more than twice.  Once should be enough, but on that off chance it got nixed.  If a woman is gracious enough to to message you back to say no way, say thank you and move on.  Every woman has a story about saying no thank you and being verbally attacked for it.

In summary, know what you want, what you have to offer and put yourself out there.  No one is going to come knock on your door.  You will fail, a lot, but that’s fine because the payoff is worth it.  Don’t go looking for love, look for interesting people that compliment your strengths and weaknesses.  Most important, have fun.  Enjoy yourself even if it does not go the way you want.  It’ll at least be a story to tell your friends later.


It’s official.  As of this morning, I am no longer married.  There were good times and bad times.  We produced three amazing little girls.  As far as divorce goes, this one was pretty easy and as sad as endings are, I’m glad it was her I got to go through it with.  Now the next chapter begins.


I’ve had my pity party.  Poor me, my marriage has ended.  Dating is hard.  I hate being alone.  You know what?  I am really blessed.  Or charmed.  Or damn lucky.  I have three amazing little girls who adore me.  They are healthy and happy.  And smart…REALLY smart.  I have a great job that pays well.  I am rather good looking, in my humble opinion.  I am healthy with all my faculties and parts.  I have met some very fascinating people, made some new friends, had some…interesting…experiences.  Sure I’m sorry one life had to end for another to begin, but that’s life.  If you understand things are not permanent, it’s easier to accept when they are gone.  It also helps to know you still have SO much!  Look on the bright side.  It could always be worse. (One more cliche’ here).

What IS this thing called love?

The more I talk to her and the longer this goes on, the more I realize she never really knew me. She’s never tried to get to know me deeply. I don’t think she loved me, I think she just got used to me that’s a hard thing to learn.  Of my two long term relationships, I can say I was deeply in love, but I don’t think they were.  So how do you even know if the other person loves you?

We can rebuild him…we have the technology

When I was between 17 -19 years old, I made a conscious effort to change myself. Up to that point I was shy, awkward, poorly dressed, overweight, etc.  I took a look at myself and decided I was not what I wanted to be so I made improvements.  Now, this isn’t to say I hated myself or I was becoming something I wasn’t, I mean I was taking on my own style and improving what was already there.

Fast forward to to today.  My life has taken an unexpected turn and left me to wonder who I am now.  Being single again after 16 years means having to figure out what my role is.  To complicate matters, I was never very good at being alone to begin with.  I’m a very social animal, I crave affection and genuinely love sharing my thoughts, feelings and experiences.  Unlike breaking up with my high school girlfriend where we got to go our separate ways, I have three lovely daughters with my ex-wife so our lives will be connected for many years to come.

What I have learned so far:

  1. It takes a lot of maturity.  You’re each going to move on, one probably faster than the other.  You need to get used to the idea of your former lover being with another person.  You can’t change it, only accept it.
  2. You are no longer responsible for their protection. I felt like it was my job as husband to protect my wife.  I didn’t always succeed and I may have done it all wrong, but it was always my intention to prevent harm.  That just cannot be the case any longer.  While I think it is possible to be friends, you just cannot be there for them 100%.
  3. Focus on the present. I used to put many of my hobbies to the side. Having a family is difficult and requires a lot of energy and work.  After coming home from a long day at work, doing some housework, maybe cooking dinner, you want to chill with the kids and spouse a bit.  Before you know it, it’s time to start the bedtime routine.  During all that, you can split your time but that generally means not being able to focus completely on one thing.  Now, when I am alone, I can focus on my hobbies.  When the kids are there, I can focus on them.
  4. Find what makes you happy.  Now I have more free time when the kids are not with me.  I had put many of my hobbies to the side as I just didn’t have the energy or focus for them.  Now I am working on what I think is most important.  It is also giving me something to focus on. Right now, that means picking up my trumpet again, more sewing and costuming, spending time with friends and just getting comfortable with myself.
  5. Identify and fix weaknesses. I am the first person to take responsibility for my actions.  I don’t back down from my mistakes.  However, this experience taught me I still had a lot of fear and insecurities in me.  Knowing that will help me make better decisions in the future, not the least of which is staying in a relationship when I am unhappy just because I don’t want to be along.
As time goes on, I’m sure this list would be added to.  Perhaps in a year, I can look back and see how close I hit the mark and if I was able to do some of the things I intend to do.

The End of a Chapter

After 15 years, my marriage is over.  Not with any major fanfare or daytime soap drama, but quietly, like closing a book or putting out a candle.  The decision was not entirely mutual, but it soon became that way.  Mistakes were made on both sides.  There was anger, sadness, bargaining, yelling and finally acceptance.
I cannot say the time was wasted.  I got to be with my best friend for a while, share some amazing experiences and our union produced three of the most amazing, smart, beautiful and creative little human beings.  All things must eventually end.  Better not to try and hold on to that which is no longer yours. In the end, it is simply better to choose love rather than hate.

Customer Service

I recently read the blog of a good friend of mine discussing how important good customer service is and how we as consumers can make better choices with our money to support the places that deserve our money.  While reading her remarks, it occurred to me that we are all in a customer service position of one kind or another even if we are not directly in the service industry.

I am an accountant and I work for an HVAC installer.  Technically I am overhead.  I don’t make any money directly for the company by selling our services.  However, I am part of the “face” of the company.  Anytime our receptionist cannot figure out who should get the call, it is forwarded to me.  I have a unique opportunity to make a good impression for the customer.  I could easily say it is not my department, not my job, or something else equally as lazy, but I try and understand exactly what it is they are looking for, give them the direct line and name of the person that can help them best and try to get them connected.  If all else fails, I’ll get their name and number and get back to them with 24 hours.

I also have a lot of contact with our customers and vendors.  In any business, we all need certain information to get our job done.  I know exactly which of my vendors can deliver and which don’t.  The same with the customers.  I make every effort to be the type of contact I am looking for, meaning if someone needs information, they’ll have it from me in 24 hours, or a really good explanation why I cannot deliver.  In this tight economy, there are many other businesses that do what we do, many may even be cheaper.  There is nothing you can do for the person who is just shopping for a bargain, but you can make a huge impact for those businesses looking for a company that is responsive to their needs.

We are all in the service industry.  Each day we make an impression on customers and vendors.  Better to make sure it is a positive one.