Friday, November 27, 2009


On Thanksgiving morning I ran a 10K in the downtown San Jose Turkey Trot , a benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank. It was exhilarating to be out with the community in a positive way, running through my new neighborhood.
I hadn't looked at the route in advance, but soon we were winding our way through my former neighborhood, the one I lived in until my divorce. The mix of emotions was intense. I felt my new self and old self collide. And then, as I continued to run, I felt a calming sense of perhaps what could be called integration. New and old self: both exist in me. Perhaps all that sweat was a baptism of sorts.

I knew there were a lot of people there but was stunned when I read in the news today there were 11,000 registered runners! I'm kind of a cornball (okay, very much so)--and when I read that number my eyes got a little damp. Made me think about how many people I was running with who are going through difficult times of their own, but there we were together, giving thanks for the ability to breathe and sweat and contribute and be together on a beautiful morning.

Thanksgiving was also my 47th birthday. My first validation that day was at 8 a.m. when I saw on my registration packet: "Kate Evans, age 47." They wasted no time upping me a year. I didn't mind. After a hellacious year, seeing my "new age" reminded me that no matter what, time passes and everything changes.

A few days before my birthday I had a little party. This picture of my friend Janelle and me was taken at the party. Janelle and I have lived in the same residence a few times over the past 20 or so year, during times either one of us was going through one of our various life transitions. We are both writers and my most recent novel is dedicated to her because together we developed the idea for it in her living room.

That's one thing I'm grateful for as I age: the ways relationship develop new textures and depths over time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Loneliness

Being single is starting to feel a little dicey during the impending holidays. My birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, which is intensifying the "something missing" feeling. (And to add to the intensity: My father's birthday would have been November 22. He's been gone over two years... Then there was Mom's birthday November 9. She's so diminished...another aspect of loss.)

Loneliness and being alone aren't the same thing, clearly. May Sarton wrote a lot about that. Maybe I need to revisit her.

Sometimes a wave of loneliness crashes over me. Other times I'm able to float in aloneness and feel at peace.

What I'm facing, in part, is change of habit. The habit of waking up to someone in bed every morning--that feeling of a familiar body reliably nestled next to yours. The habit of knowing that on your birthday, you are someone's special person: someone who will give you a card, a little gift, a cake with candles. The habit of knowing you will make Thanksgiving plans together, and that after the turkey feast you will unpack the holiday ornaments to create sparkle in the darkening days.

It's odd how "being alone" isn't true, for the most part. Most of us have friends, family, colleagues, neighbors--people who love and support us. Why do we focus so much on coupling? There's something about the intimacy...and also the conflict...and then the deadening and reawakening...which often means breaking up and starting over, yes?

Speaking of Coupling, I'm a late-comer to the hilarious BBC comedy. Been enjoying it lately, in a kind of masochistic way...

Happy Thanksgiving to you all...and happy navigation of life and love.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dating in Mid-life: How to Measure Success?

Re-entering the dating world after many years of coupledom is, well, odd. When you first meet someone, you can feel the mental tape measures being whipped out. You're always wondering how you are measuring up. Simultaneously, you are measuring up the other person. It's like a garment workers' convention.

When I was married, meeting new people was less complicated. There was no second-guessing about how that person might, say, perform in bed. Well, maybe there was, but those thoughts rested securely in my mind's Fantasy Island along with da plane and Charo.

Now there's the possibility that such fantasies could develop into a reality. A reality that might involve beautiful things, like my date paying for the dinner--but also, perhaps, some unpleasantness, like halitosis or hangnails.

This is all about the body, it seems. A fantasy body is a very different thing than a reality body. When you've been married for a long time, your spouse's body is as comfortable as an old couch. Such coziness is synoymous with complacency, and before you know it it's been months since you've searched for stray coins behind your spouse's cushions. In the queer world, they call it "lesbian bed death."

But I know from experience that straight people get lesbian bed death too. And I don't mean they cease oral sex. They cease other heterosexual maneuvers as well. The man sits in the basement on his metaphorical sagging couch, yanking himself into Fantasy Island oblivion with the help of online porn--while the woman, post-dinner, scours the sink for the twelfth time that night.

And sometimes in a wacky gender reversal, it's vice-versa.

So my question is this: When I meet a possible date, how do I stop from fast-forwarding my mind? The fast-forward works something like this: I start talking to a man I've met at a literary event--okay, a bar--and full-speed-ahead, my mind writes a one-sentence story:

He has a gorgeous jawline and strong-looking hands that four years from now will erotically finger the remote control while he reclines on our complacent couch, watching his third game of the day while I wander around the house dejected in my hapless new lingerie.

Maybe the key is to put away the measuring tape and pick up a good book, or a good shrink. One that can help me, as they say, be in the moment and not worry about the future. See, that's the thing about being married. The future is all figured out. Your spouse's teeth will one day float in a glass next to the bed, and sex will be a figment of your long-ago imagination.

When you're single, the future is a blank page, waiting to be filled up with stories. Stories like:

Ten years later, she is a bag lady digging through recycle bins downtown, teeth lost because she doesn't own a glass.


Ten years later, she is still paying off her attorneys from Divorce #1 and Divorce #2 while simultaneously undergoing Divorce #3.

These stories inevitably involve devolution. Why does my mind act as though I am destined to live out life as a Zola novel?

To mix more metaphors, a divorce tears the fabric. That means you are now just a half piece of cloth, like a rag used for cleaning the bathroom. But if the other half has disappeared, what difference does it make? Everyone will just assume that this piece of cloth, sitting alone at the bar, is whole.

Can we cut from whole cloth a pattern of romance and a long, monogamous sex life? Can we sew together something that looks like evolution, not devolution?

I know what I need! I need a tape measure that can divine a happy ending.


On a different note:

I just found out that my new novel, Complementary Colors, is ranked #82,768 on Amazon out of 1 million. That's kind of like being a lipstick at Macy's rather than JC Penney's.

And a year after its release, my novel For the May Queen is at #184, 310. Not shabby for a little book about sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Off and running....

Back from a fabulous time in L.A. Did so much, starting with a beautiful drive down Highway 1. Stopped to see the elephant seals snorting and snuffling on the beach. Stopped at a small town and had a conversation at a bar with a Vietnam vet who'd been stationed in Panama. His job was to drive the troops into the rain forest where they played war games in preparation for being shipped to Vietnam.

In L.A., went to a soccer game at the L.A. stadium--the Galaxy and Chivas tied. Saw Beckham play! Carved 15 (not a typo) pumpkins. Dressed as a (slutty) nun for the big Halloween bash at my friend Nancy's house. Went out dancing. Drank too many Cosmos (never again; I'll leave the Cosmos to the Sex & the City girls). Ran from Santa Monica pier to Venice Beach and back again. The sky was ocean-blue, and the ocean sky-blue.

When I got home, found a box at my door. Opened it up and, Voila! My new novel was in my hands.

Taught today, then went to hear Denis Johnson read from his newish noir novel. I enjoyed the reading but was surprised he took no questions afterward. Instead, we headed to the wine and food, receptioning with Denis and cohorts. Ah, the life of the literary jet-set.

Yes, I actually do slip some teaching into the spaces between all this activity. What's gone undone is vacuuming my apartment (dog hair galore) and unpacking my suitcase (gotta get to it because I'm running out of clean underwear).

On tap tomorrow: bill paying, a long run, writing and an evening of pool playing and probably some World Series thrown in.