I sort of quit drinking because I was in the pit of despair. Up until about seven weeks ago, I used to have a couple glasses of wine with dinner every night. I really like my tapered, crystal Reidel wine glasses. Just because I live alone doesn’t mean I should live any differently than I used to when I was married. My husband and I had wine with dinner every night before he got too sick. He died of cancer in 2013.

But seven weeks ago, I was miserable. Being a widow sometimes majorly sucks. Instead of willing myself to be cheerful, grateful and proactive, I told myself I could be as unhappy as I wanted. I just couldn’t drink while I embraced my inner nihilist. Cue Winona Ryder in “Beetlejuice” intoning “my life is one dark room.” I could still be stupid if I wanted, like rashly selling my house and relocating, or trading my car in for a hearse (I love the movie “Harold and Maude), I just couldn’t do it while I was drinking.

Since alcohol is a depressant, maybe it was amplifying my negative feelings. I wasn’t sleeping enough. Alcohol interferes with sleep patterns, and a lack of sleep can cause irritability, or in my case, white-hot bitterness. So, I started having decaf iced tea with dinner. Which made dinner feel less bistro and more Denny’s.

I get to do what I want, even have a couple drinks with friends, hence the “sort of” quit drinking. But that has to be a special thing, not my usual habit. I’m communicating with strange men now. Being adorably tipsy is over. If my “tipsiness” was ever adorable. I’m not sure I am the neurotic type anyway.

And I still can’t sleep. One night, I set up a J-Date profile around three a.m. The next morning I edited it to make it sound less like it was written by a sleep-deprived, spelling-challenged Goth.

My plan is to on-line date for about six months to get good at activities such as learning to search for promising profiles, to reach out to strange men, and to work on my dating proficiency by becoming pleasingly vapid. I doubt I can train myself to like driving forty minutes for a thirty-five minute coffee date.

I’m actually proud of myself for going on J-Date. I hate being told “there are no men out there,” or “every one is already taken.” Way to depress the blossoming bereaved! Like whatever I do, I’ve already failed. I’d better be grateful for anyone: point me to the clearance bin! Maybe I’ll resort to using a male escort service. If you are someone who believes these dire pronouncements to be true, feel free to– wait for it— say nothing. Silence trumps tactlessness.

Four days into J-Date I meet someone with potential. And dimples. He’s really funny. Possibly, the two of us could reactivate the Borscht Belt comedy circuit. Or we could open a frozen yogurt franchise with flavors like Manishevitz flavored fro yo topped with crushed matzoh and shavings of gefilte fish.

Since J-Date has very few subscribers in the Danville,CA area, I am training to go on match.com, so I can find a life partner among a bank of strangers with no accountability.

In my newly sober state I finally broke up with my boyfriend, Jim, my Dad’s former home health care aide. (Yeah, I know). I loved Jim’s mohawk and copious “prison style” tattoos. (Apparently tattoos have genres). I didn’t care that he was nine years younger than I am. Or that he was always broke.

But I didn’t like his possessiveness, unwarranted jealousy and abrupt mood swings. And now, sober all night, I can see clearly what I was putting up with. I decided to reject the drama. No more toasty, brown-skinned Jim. I miss him rather desperately at times. And I don’t get to drink away that sharp edge of pain. Because then I’d call him. He was usually exponentially more fun than J-Date

With the exception of Mark. Who is more fun when he isn’t analyzing his past failed relationships. Which he does a lot. Often when I’m wondering if he’s going to kiss me or continue on about women who have chosen not to see him anymore. I start to see their point. Plus, he told me that his two ex’s who ruined his life were both blondes with implants. I didn’t need to know that.

Mark spent the past two Saturdays sleeping on my sofa. We’ve only met up six times. I’m not really used to him. He seems to have decided he will get used to me. He snored softly while I peered at him from the entrance to my living room, trying to decide if this is a good thing.

He has a lot of pluses. He works out and has great muscles, but it’s too soon to tell him to shut up and take his shirt off. The minuses are the timing. And that he lives over two hours away. (Hence, the slumber party). And that he excavates his past relationships to a frightening degree.

Sunday evening he sent me a text ending our relationship. He explained that it was because I still wanted to see other people. He sent me a piece of his writing about his being deeply in love with his ex-girlfriend. He wanted my feedback. I think it’s full of cliches but I don’t want to hurt him


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