Friday, October 28, 2011

is it worth the risk?

HWSNBN (He Who Shall Not Be Named) and I joke easily. A recent topic was "A new hallmark series for those with personality disorders":

There's something special about this guy. I don't know if it's because he makes me howl with laughter or that he can write like nobody's business, or that he just does everything right, but I like him a lot.

How do people do this getting-close-to-others stuff? Knowing I'm very sensitive inside, do I just refrain or is it really actually better to try and lose than never to have tried at all? The last few times I went through endings, it felt like I'd swallowed glass. Is it worth the risk?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dear beloved niece & nephews

My niece and nephews are old enough to fall in love. I hugged them recently, thinking about how fiercely I love them and how much I wanted them to find someone who valued them as much as I do. If I wrote them a letter, if I offered advice, what would I say?

To my beloved niece and nephews,

I feel strange offering you advice as you seek your way. I don't have much input. But I do have unconditional love and support and an happy ear to listen and be there for you. I will share with you what I have learned about love: pay attention to how you feel.

1. Do you have a sense of home when you spend time with this person? Do they bring you warmth and comfort and make you feel calm? Does it feel like they could be your best friend, with your best interests at heart? A sense of joy in their company is huge, notice those with whom you feel replenished and recharged and seek out their company.

2. Do you find yourself laughing and smiling with them? Yay! Another wonderful sign. Listen to yourself -- you know how you feel. I've noticed that people have a tendency to rationalize how they think they should feel, but how you actually feel is most important. Grant your comfort level the space it needs to settle. If you're not sure how you feel, that's okay. You'll be unsure until you're not. It's all okay.

3. Do you find yourself worried if they like you? Pay attention to this too. Each of us are perfect in our imperfection and it's important to feel appreciated. If you find yourself thinking "Maybe they will like me better if I am ___" then this is a sign of possibly conditional love, which can leave you wanting down the road. Try to compare your feelings to the way your best friend makes you feel. Honor your feelings and give them room to breathe. Your gut will be one of the most valuable tools you carry with you throughout life.

4. Experience much and see if these experiences feel positive inside. You have a wise sage living right inside your chest and if you listen quietly, they will tell you how they really feel. If an experience doesn't feel positive, try to think about it with the perspective of learning a lesson. I am always here if you need anything.

5. Kindness is a wonderful attribute in a mate. You want someone who will cover you when you are cold, bring you aspirin when you are sick, empathize with your long hard day. And be sure to give as good as you get. Pick a partner who gives 100% of themselves and you do the same. If you both look out for eachother, the world will feel like a gentler place.

6. It can be hard to support what's best for your partner if it differs from what you think but it will be important to support them anyway (as they should you). As much as you can, put yourself in their shoes. Don't nag. Have fun.

7. It's okay -- indeed, crucial -- to turn off the wrong people. Don't fret if you like someone and they don't like you back. It will be okay in the end.
Love you so very much,
Aunt Asplenia

It's such a beautiful gift, to feel this swelling of heart, to love so completely. Such good kids, I want them to have the world. I want all kids to have the world, they deserve it. ::sniff::

Monday, October 24, 2011

recent times (aka honey badger don't care)

Hi! Wanna be me, the past few weeks? Simple:
  • Catch plague. Move. Listen to hired dude's running commentary on the shittiness of everything you own. Throw neck out. Pay movers. Take massive painkillers. (Bonus: it lowers fever.) Get first meal of the day. Have car break in parking lot. Become agitated at delay in shrimp-eating. Limp to repair shop. Eat with fingers in Meineke waiting room. Think about how much unpacking is not happening. Receive word that car is hopeless. Limp to another shop. Drop off. Lament that enough time has passed to need more painkillers. Walk 2 miles home with high fever.
  • Unpack ibuprofen and bathrobe. Collapse for 24 hours.
  • Walk 2 miles with high fever to pick up car. Pay hundreds of dollars. See doctor, get antibiotics. Zombify rest of week. Rise from crypt, unpack.
  • Fall in love.
  • Get dumped.
  • Actually, don't get dumped, get reassigned. Hello friendzone, you're awesome. I wanted to get to know you anyway.
  • Learn important lesson: when it "clicks" it clicks. Realize you learned this before and forgot. Slap forehead.
  • Realize it doesn't matter if they don't like you back.
  • Listen to Niel Diamond's "Love on the Rocks" just so you can feel extra shitty about losing something you never had. Croon hoarsely to "First they say they want youuuu....." Gchat melancholy videos with like-minded friend.
  • Work 10 hours. Clock off. Spend another 8 hours editing photos. Become annoyed that you have to adjust the levels on every fucking photo. Decide to buy better equipment. Add to huge to-do list. Know it'll never happen.
  • Quit editing photos at 1:45am. Drive home. Play Ani DiFranco's Providence on loops for extra shitty bonus points. Pass through college town, become even more depressed by the ruckus of youth. Slump.
  • See guy attacking girlfriend down street. Drop jaw. Turn into mama bear. Run flailing into traffic. Realize you are the size of a madagascar hissing cockroach and honey badger don't care.
  • Flail more. Attract attention. Girl gets freed, mission accomplished.
  • Consider 3am jog to unwind. Remember stumbling drunken shapes weaving through neighborhood. Write instead.
  • Set alarm. Recall promise of delivering a well-rested self 4 hours north for early family event. Snort bitterly.
  • Awake. Palpitate. Drive 200 miles.
  • Clutch onto parent. Begin sharing. Get shushed. (I believe exact words were "shhh omg don't tell crazy stories!") Sulk. Stuff sulking into inner well of despair.
  • Win family performance award for entertaining while empty husk.
  • Magnificently avoid argument for the next 5 hours.
  • Hour 6: cue PacMan death noise.
  • Drive more. See more people. One comments "you look a little stressed?"
  • Drive home. Decide food is optional and forego supermarket for bed.
  • Work. Return home. Buy Nutter Butters to offer starving roommates, blog and collapse. 
There. You are now me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

he was holding her by the neck.

I'm shaking so hard I can barely type. On my way home just now, I was driving through this local college hangout (which happens to be on my commute home) when I saw a big beefy white guy throw a girl fiercely to the ground. Then he picked up her shaking, crying, crumpled form and started screaming in her face, shaking a fist threateningly the whole time. I saw the scene unfold from down the street and couldn't believe it was even real. People milled about, no one paying attention, adding an extra layer of anesthetic to the surreal, out-of-place scene.

Real-life violence is nothing like the movies where music cues us and slow motion gives us time to process. In real life, fighting is clumsy and confusing and fear fills the air, becoming a thick smog filling your nostrils. The bully is afraid too -- that's precisely why he's so dangerous: he's not thinking. I don't know why it surprised me to instantly recognize the fright mixed with the crazy in his eyes but thinking about it now, aggression is often fueled by fear and desperation.

In a fight, Details get lost. 911 asked, but I hadn't paid attention to whether his shirt was dark gray or light gray when I was doing a panicked threat assessment ("Does he have a weapon?? What's the circumference of the whirling arc of flailing fists should he turn from her to me?") How come in movies all you have to do is scream the street address and cops are there in 4 seconds; why are they asking me questions I can't hear because I am breaking up a fight?

I didn't feel myself flinging open the car door or running but I did hear myself yell, "let go of her!"

The woman saw immediately, in the distraction, a chance to get away, and twisted out of his grasp. I was still running to them, calling at frozen bystanders to help when he grabbed her again. She looked at me gratefully, seeing reinforcement, and yelled more strongly for him to let go and, when he didn't, I pounded him in the back with the heels of my hands, thankful for remembering one small tidbit I'd been taught: fists are weak and a punch can hurt knuckles but a well-placed hit with the base of the hand is less likely to injure its owner. I was terrified he'd whirl and crush me but I didn't see a choice. I was reckless and unwise and mostly ineffective but if we don't attempt to stop bullies, if we don't stand up for eachother, who will? With each unchecked aggression, bullies grow even bolder.

I don't know if it's because I was a girl or if it was simply that someone was acting, or it was that I singled people out and asked, but the frozen bystanders leapt into action. A group of guys put themselves in danger relieving both the girl and I of the bully's attention. He turned to face them and began threatening the growing circle around him.

I was still on the phone. Fucking 911 transferred me and I was repeating "JUST GET A COP OUT HERE PLEASE" with the address when suddenly the guy wheeled around, mid-threat, and took off. It all happened so fast.

I tweeted afterwards that this was the first time I'd ever hit someone but it's not true. I remember now that when I was 11, my dog ran away and I found him in the schoolyard, some guy tormenting him. I yelled first, in a high-pitched bratty voice, "leave my dog alone!" But when he didn't, let loose a stream of completely ineffective girly punches as high as I could reach: his shoulder. He looked at me like I were an annoying insect and swung a good one into the side of my head. Knocked me down. The sound shocked me more than the sensation. Even if I knew how to fight, I don't think an 11-year old girl and a 16-year old boy are a good match but at least I got him away from my dog.

I hate confrontation. I hate fighting. I don't even know how to fight. But injustice lights a fury in me. Even though I was terrified, I couldn't turn my cheek.

As a youngster, I watched a movie on TV about actress Theresa Saldana. She'd been assaulted in broad daylight in Central Park by a deranged fan while scores of witnesses watched. No one helped. Even as a youngster, I grasped the concept of a crowd's power to intercept and never forgot the message. (Indeed, it's what brought flight 93 down in a Pennsylvanian field on 9/11.)

We are taught to read and write and make cookies and weave baskets but not how to defend ourselves, fight or face violence, even though many kids grow up experiencing it in their own homes. Shouldn't people learn conflict management as kids? I don't know how it'd best be introduced, but in a hierarchical society of primates, doesn't this seem like a necessary conversation?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The immeasurable value of kindness

Went out with some married friends recently and watched them playfully pick at eachother. And thought about the thing I read recently about marital success (from Dr. Gottman's marital research on the 4 things that slowly destroy a relationship*) and wondered if they would last.

It bothers me when I see partners pick on eachother, even if seemingly in jest. Because there is usually an undercurrent of embarrassment, shame or hurt on behalf of the pickee. Giggles cover hurt looks but the sting still hangs softly in the air.

I like when I see people being a team, rooting for eachother, in eachother's courts. Not contemptuous & critical. That seems intuitive -- be kind to eachother, right? -- and yet I see so many who disregard their partner's feelings. There is a cost for this and over time, like a leaking faucet, gallons of intimacy wasted. Is this where the saying "familiarity breeds contempt" comes from? The seeming liberty to judge those closest to us?

. . .

*scroll to #9 for the 4 negative behaviors which can detrimentally erode a relationship over time:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

epic fat lip (and totally worth it)

It is 4:24 am and I just got home from his house...
(He Who Shall Not Be Named)

...And I have a fat lip from our epic makeout session.

It looks awful. My face is blotchy and red and chafed and I have sex hair (despite not having sex) and I'm pretty sure no one seeing me like this would ever call back for a second "date" (though it wasn't a date), so I may never see him again. But it's weird. I have this wonderful sense of peace inside anyway.

I don't really understand why. I mean, if you know me in real life or have been following this blog (hi sis!) (<-- my only reader, lol), all I talk about is how I have trouble getting close. Either I worry that I'd be sensitive to feeling used or there's some other perceived obstacle, so, as much as I love affection, I seem to stave off most opportunities.

And this is doubly unusual considering that one of my last posts was inspired by one woman's divorce story and how she gave up the dating game. "Chasing relationships down had not worked; it was time to put down my butterfly net," she wrote. I didn't include the part of that goddamn story which said she found someone the instant she stopped looking because I thought it was stupid, but here I am, 4 days after renouncing the whole process and I am grinning like a madwoman with grape-sized lips.
(Like this, but increase the lower lip by 300%)
One of my girlfriends was in a play recently and wrote about the glorious luxury of kissing her costar and I thought heh, wish that were me, but too bad -- I will NEVER be on stage, ever. Sucks to be me! No kissing for me evar again! But then, tonight? It felt like I was in a fucking movie. Where the guy is all awesome and does everything right and I'm free of the stuff that usually swirls around my head because it's a MOVIE. I can relax. And you know what? That's pretty sweet.

I'm not sure how to reconcile all this with the complicated feelings about my love life in general but for some reason, it doesn't feel like I have to. It can just be. And so it was. And it was awesome.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Desperado... why don't you come to your senses...

I'm in a weird place. I'm in a place where I feel untouchable, unreachable. I want to be here, though, inexplicably, paradoxically. I am sitting from a place watching quality men from afar, unable to respond.

The philospher emailed me today about the "us" that never was.
"I would have thrown my heart and soul into loving you and being the best boyfriend possible if you had wanted me." 
I felt that inevitable sadness at giving up without trying, at missing my chance.

Maybe I would have been really happy, I think.

But I am not ready.

I feel that same sadness with another guy paying me special attention, who wrote me a poem:
i can't slow down she can't catch up
hence my watching the red-head who isn't red
she's caught up
just not caught up
on me yet.
The only thing I can do, it seems, is embrace the line from the Steve Job's vid going around:
"As with all matters of the heart, when it's right, you'll know." 
I listen to Desperado by the Eagles, soothed by the mournful tone, struck by the relevance.
Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it's too late
And then I curl up in bed with a good book, alone.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The pimp lobe is workin' it

While slaving away in school a few years back, I lamented on a message board about how my student loans were going to kill me. I must have written a pretty compelling post because months later, a TV executive stumbled across it and contacted me, saying, "hey, we're doing a show on financial ruin. Will you be on it?"

Me [as the "wtf are you talking about?" part of my brain lit up, then was quickly silenced by the larger frontal pimp lobe]: "Um... hm. Well how much?"

TV executive: "Oh, nothing. But they'll cover your flight. And you get to be on Oprah."

me: "Bitch! You don't call someone on the brink of financial ruin and offer to shame them on national TV for free. Show me the money!"

Um, just kidding. That's what I was thinking.

Really what I said was:

me: "Um, no thank you."

TV executive: "Are you sure? We'd put you up in a hotel in Chicago overnight too."

me: "How many nights? Like a vacation?"

[Shut up! I had to ask. Come on. Wouldn't you?]

TV executive: "Only one night because that's all that's needed for the show."

me: "pssht. That's it? No thanks."

TV executive [trying several more times]: "But you might like the experience. You'd be with others. And Chicago's a really neat town."

Um, yeah.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my videocamera beside the golden couch!"

Yeah. Display us on stage, freaks that we are, for ridicule so we can collectively zombify and attach to eachother for support. A bunch of money mismanaging wrecks careening through life, united by their chosen shames. On stage. That's exactly what I want. Before my high school reunion too, just so anyone who ever tried to kick my ass then could see how much my life rocked right at that moment.

So, um, yeah, that didn't work out. But if they HAD offered to pay off my student loans, I would have signed up. I'm not THAT proud. ;)

**For the record, my loans are under control now. I can afford to eat every third Thursday and even bought a new pair of socks recently!