Saturday, December 29, 2012

a lot going on

Just to end 2012 with a bang, I'm going through another kind of personal crisis (because, you know, the someday-everyone-you-love-will-die issue wasn't enough), and so I've been wrapped up the past coupla days. The one thing making this a tiny bit less awful is The Cyclist. He has displayed a side I did not know he had nor expected to see and holy cow, does that guy have class. How do you even thank someone for being a good person? For being amazing? I don't know.

He gets embarrassed when I gush, I think. Last time I saw him coming out of the metro, I wanted to throw my arms around him on sight because he looked so cute and was smiling. Hard not to feel affectionate for awesome people. Of course, THIS guy (date 2 years ago) wouldn't ever believe I'm capable of physically touching another human being, but chemistry is chemistry.

I'm supposed to do social things tomorrow but freelancing isn't done so will have to put that first. Plus I feel like lying low right now anyway. We'll see.

Looking back over this sad sack recollection of the past couple of years, it's kindof embarrassing to see such boring and self-centered moping all throughout this blog. But at least I accomplished what I wanted: a log for myself, in some way, to measure progress, remember and vent. I use it too -- sometimes someone will ask me a question ("when did you date so-and-so?" etc.) and I don't remember the exact time frame so I look it up.

This post is one of those. I don't really want to talk about all that's happening right now, or maybe ever, but I might want to look back one day and remember some tiny details.

Friends & family have also been awesome. A heartfelt thank you isn't enough. <3

Friday, December 28, 2012

random thoughts

Life feels so impermanent.

On the flight home, we hit terrible turbulence. We all knew we were flying into a storm and a collective din of nervous murmurs filled the air at every jolt. The engine closest to my window groaned noisily and I suddenly became terrified we would plummet from the clouds, that no engine could make noises like that without a failure imminent in its future. But fear serves no purpose. If it was going to happen, it would happen, regardless of how scared I was.

I closed my eyes & thought, "Pretend this is a bus," relaxing into the bumps and swerves. It's all about perspective. I love long road trips where I'm not driving, so I dozed off. (That was not the time to ponder the physics of flight!)

The worst thing about dying suddenly is not being able to say goodbye. What would you wish your loved ones could know if something ever happened to you? I would want to tell them, "please don't let this ending end your life too. Be happy. Give back. Don't think dark thoughts, those are so tiny in the giant picture -- please don't think about my last moments. If you can't help yourself, read The Lovely Bones, I dunno. Please be okay. No one can ever be okay with death but maybe you can pretend I'm still holding your hand. Love you. Keep living for me."

This is probably along the lines of what my dad would want to say, but we cannot speak of the end right now. The thought that there will be an end has made us too raw. But I have known people who didn't even have that chance. I know I am lucky.

Something strange happens when faced with mortality. You want to shake people into accountability: Own yourself. Live the fucking life you want. Why aren't you happy? What are you waiting for?

All the morbid thoughts I ever had in my life about loss are useless. They don't prepare you for it. You must push those thoughts aside to live, but ignoring them can be a lure into stasis.

"The trouble is, you think you have time." --Buddha

I've been thinking about an annoying side effect of shitty self-esteem. It's selfish. Because it makes everything about you. Other people's rejection, their feelings, their hard times, their wants and desires, well, it isn't about you. Paradoxically, feeling small equals a distorted sense of grandiosity if you think you can affect another that much. No one is that powerful.

We can be powerful, however, by helping others.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We are doers.

Okay, so I'm processing things. It really is a shock to hear scary news and start thinking about mortality but I'm out of morbid mode. I was a wreck pretty much the entire first day my Dad told me. This morning, however, I sat him down before leaving for the airport. "Information comforts me," I said. "So I went out and got this sought-after book written by a Hopkins specialist," and began pointing out certain sections.

"I wasn't going to tell you at first that I got this but I actually feel better after reading it and want you to take a look too."

I also told him my kidneys were his kidneys, when the time comes. "I would never ask for that," he said. "Well, I need YOU more than I need that other kidney I'm not using," I told him back. He laughed and hugged me. We're the same blood type and most similar physically, mentally and emotionally in the family.

It's funny, that I was the accident baby, kindof, coming at a time when my parents weren't sure another kid would be wise. But maybe I will save his life.

Shifting into standard problem-solving mode feels good. We talked more. I don't come from a family that had easy lives. None of us stays down for long. We're doers, and will do what must be done.

(Sent from my phone)

Monday, December 24, 2012

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

You weren't supposed to be the one who got sick, I thought. Not the one who swung me around when I was a little girl squirreling around the sturdy trunk of the tall man who entered the door at dinnertime laughing and kept all the monsters away. The one who taught me how to ride a bike and drive a car and took me on my first plane ride and who rebuilt a cracked Diesel engine block and fixed the roof and carried refrigerators and yet put it all down to hear me spell my first word. Nothing bad could ever happen to the giant of a man with an even larger heart, not the guy who thumbed his nose at adversity (and boy, did life throw its fair share of tests at you).

You worked hard and you cared and everyone could tell. I loved that everywhere you went, people beamed sunshine at you.

No, I never worried about you. I'm a worrier, but your grandma lived to be 101 and you never even caught colds. Doctors were amazed at your good health.

Maybe you shouldn't have used your body to carry those steel beams or those refrigerators. They think it was the ibuprofen that hurt your kidneys. That innocent over-the-counter drug with only the mild labeling not to take too many, and you, always careful with your health, never took too many, but somehow it was anyway. And now I am crying because somewhere someone is taking one tonight and doesn't realize in 20 years, their kids will look into a future for the first time without them and I want to say please, please take care of yourself.

But you had wanted us to have nice things.

You wanted to be an engineer but this was the family business and you were an honorable man. Life did not offer you a choice.

You worked hard your entire life and I thought soon you would reap the rewards; enjoy retirement. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. I was going to give you the money back that you paid for my school as a surprise because you believed in me, and then you would do something nice with it for yourself. You were always doing things for other people. Or maybe we would take a father/daughter trip to Japan or somewhere exotic. I would buy time. I wanted to buy time with you.

I would give you a kidney right now if I thought that would fix everything. I would change my entire life and give up everything I have if I thought it would help, cliched as these wakeup calls can be. But it really is true: nothing else matters.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A good way to usher in the apocalypse*

He dozed off, head tilted slightly away from me, and I soaked in his handsome face, grateful he couldn't see the tenderness in my eyes as I traced my fingers lightly over his rugged jawline. So this won't be love; it's already been decreed. What feels right: spend time with someone as long as you enjoy their company. When you stop enjoying it, stop doing it. Why end it prematurely? Because I'm afraid of being hurt? I'm going to hurt anyway. t is better to have loved and lost....

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great. I'll call you from the emergency room when my eyes explode.

(I wrote this a few years ago.)

Maybe it was brought on by whatever disgusting filth the dog rolled in. Maybe colonies of fecal bacteria disbursed from his ruffled and soapy fur like little aeronautic Gossamer spiders wafting through the air during last night's emergency bath. Or maybe the germs just splashed on my face. Whatever the cause, I now have pinkeye.

Halfway through the work day, I noticed my eye clouding over and burning. By day's end, it was raging red. No doctor's office was open by then but I live across the street from a CVS Minute Clinic and stopped there on my way home.

I walked in and the nurse stared in horror at my right eye. "What brings you here?" she asked.

"I think I have pinkeye."

She leaned forward and stared intently, eyes narrowed into little slits, assessing contaminant risk. Then with a slight measure of panic but still focused keenly on my oozing orb, she reached behind her and produced a bottle of antibacterial gel.

"Here," she said, and glorped a hefty pile of gel onto my hands. "Rub it in" she commanded. Then she took a handsome helping of the stuff for herself.

"Ok, now can I have your drivers license and insurance card?" she said, sighing in relief, face relaxing.

I gave her my insurance information, self-conscious of my infected fingers reaching into my wallet, positing bacteria along the way as I felt around. I handed her the cards and she eyed my hand as if I were one of The Infected*** before gingerly taking them.

The nurse then handed me a form, and froze, hands outstretched, realizing too late she had proffered her only pen to the diseased being in front of her. "You can KEEP the pen!" she hastily added, and I immediately understood this was not a gift so much as a command.

She began examining me. "Yep, it's pinkeye. Now what will you DO with your eye makeup?" She stood back, arms crossed defensively and waited for the correct answer.

Um. Lick it before applying heavily?

"I guess I will throw it all out and just buy new stuff," I said shyly.

"That's RIGHT!" she said. "But what will you DO in the meantime, WHILE you're using the medicine?"

I wished she would just spout out the canned recommendations instead of putting me through grade school question & answer period. But I complied. "I won't wear any, I guess."

"VERY GOOD!" she sang. I passed.

Then she tested me for a sinus infection by pumping air into my ears, a new experience for me. "If your eardrums flap in the wind, then your sinuses are clear," she said. If there was fluid behind them, they would be completely still. "We're testing for this because it's a common cause of pinkeye." I passed that with flying colors, at least.

"Are you sure you weren't around anyone with pinkeye recently?"

"No one I know has pinkeye," I responded.

"This is a VERY. CONTAGIOUS. condition. VERY. It's very odd that you would have it without being exposed to it."

I shrugged. "Beats me."

Her eyes narrowed again. "Is there anything else you need to tell me?"

I wanted to say, "yes, I forgot my hall pass" but demurred. "Oh! Last week I had dental surgery. Could that have anything to do with it?"

She brightened, happy that my oral trauma might lay claim to the disease overtaking my head. "Possibly!" she purred. "YES and your lymph nodes are all swollen too. I bet that's it!"

Thanks, I wanted to tell her. Glad to bring you so much joy.

She wrote me a prescription for Vigamox and sent me home. "Put drops in BOTH eyes!" she called after me urgently. "Even if you don't think you need to, DO IT!"

The first time I put the drops in, my eyes burned like I'd thrown acid on them, and then turned even more red, but not a blood-vessely-red, more like a scarlet-fever-chartreuse. Not an ounce of white existed.

I stared at myself in the mirror trying to refrain from clawing at them to relieve the itch. Then I called the pharmacist just to double-check that I wasn't having some kind of allergic reaction. After an extended pause, he put down his bong to look it up online.

"hmmmmm... hold on a minute, let me see... (long silence) Nope, doesn't seem like it's supposed to be painful and itchy when you put the eyedrops in," he said. "But try again tomorrow and if it's still a problem, go back to the clinic."

Great, I thought. I'll call you from the emergency room when my eyes explode.

This morning though, I was okay. The drops aren't bothering me anymore and even seem to be working. But it's loads of fun to walk around work red-eyed and teary and watch my coworkers either prepare to run from The Infected or place silent bets on my condition.

***just see the movie "28 Days Later"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"NO! Life with Roberto will be fighting over the GPS and cleaning the cat box!"

Mira Kirschenbaum sums it well:
"People who make smart decisions about who to be with tend to choose the highest quality person: the most sane, intelligent, honest, kind, reliable, sensible, generous, warm, good-natured person they can find." (More)
Although this seems intuitive, it's not enough to even agree. You have to embody it. Talk is cheap.

The Dark-Haired Boy and I once talked about this, the naïveté of the newly-in-love. He'd been watching a contestant on The Bachelorette dreamily fantasize about her romance while vacationing in Italy.
"Oh, this is what life with Roberto will be like! Frolicking in a fountain on the Piazza!"

"NO! Life with Roberto will be fighting over the GPS and cleaning the cat box!"
(You were forewarned! haha)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Infected at the store

So I'm standing in line at Marshalls buying a pillow and a fake plant when the woman in front of me accosts me. "That is soooo pretty! OMG! Where did you find it?"

"In the back," I point.

"Oh haha! You are SO bubbly! I love your personality! You know, I love this store. And HomeGoods too. I spent $1,000 there on house stuff. It's fantastic!"

"Yeah, I like that place too," I offered.

"YES! My husband and I were buying this teak wooden outdoor table and I thought $250 omg that's too much but we loved it and bought it anyway. THEN I called my friends from North Carolina, that's where we get ALL our furniture, and they priced it out down there, it would have been $1400! So see. That place is addictive."

me (smiling weakly): "mmm hmm." (thinking WHY won't the cashier hurry the FUCK UP!)

her: "OH you are such a people person! Would you be interested in a makeover? I LOVE your skin. You would just love these products, they are amazing. I mean, look at MY skin. A few years ago it looked much MUCH older. Mary Kay cosmetics. They are the BEST."

me: "That's nice but I'm not really into makeovers, I like doing my own routine."

her: "OH it's not like that! I promise! We don't touch anyone, we're not licensed to touch anybody. So we just offer you any makeup you want and you get to pick out what you want to try for your makeover. Call me for an appointment! There's NO obligation and you don't have to buy anything, it's free to try all the stuff."

She presses a business card in my hand, the obnoxious kind that needs to scream "SALES!" so loudly that it tents out into a miniature pamphlet.

me: "uh, you know I basically work two jobs and just do not have time for anything else but thanks anyway."

her: "TWO jobs? You should come work for me. I make 6 figures a year, then you wouldn't have to work so much. Don't you want to make six figures? I couldn't believe it the first year I made that. And they gave me a pink cadillac and everything. I've had 6 cars since I've been working for them. I miss the pink cadillac though, that was a good car." She stares wistfully out the window and I finally pay for my stuff and walk out. She's beside me the whole way.

"See, there's my car now! Here, I'll press the keychain -- look, there are the lights! It's a Saturn."

me: "That's very nice. I heard Mary Kay treats their salespeople well and I remember hearing that the best ones can sometimes get cars."

her: "What? Salesperson? No, I'm not a salesperson. I don't sell anything. Everyone thinks I sell stuff, I don't. Mary Kay just gives this to me. You could have the same exact thing too you know. It's not just me, they treat EVERYONE this way. There are women making as much as me only two months into it."

me: "No thanks, I love what I do and am not interested in anything else." (Thinking inside "yeah right! Mary Kay throws money at people for NO reason! Sure. Great business model, one sure to keep a company going for decades.")

I can smell an MLM scheme a mile away. MLM = multi-level marketing and desperate followers have the intensity of religious zealots, except they worship get-rich-quick schemes instead of gods. NuSkin, A&L Williams Insurance, Herbalife, Amway... those are all flake companies that infect the weak-minded and turn them into hysterical humanoids that, like the cast of zombies in 28 Days Later, chase down every living soul left in the desperate attempt to suck out their lifeblood and turn them into one of their own.

her: "OH what do you do? You love it that much! That's really great but you know who wouldn't want to make as much as me."

me: "Um, I work with computers. Anyway I gotta go."

her: "Well look at my website or call me if you change your mind. You wouldn't believe the stuff we have, the same lotion that J. Lo has for $600, we have and it's only $30. Vitamins A, C, & E. Antioxidants, very good for the skin. One time of trying it and you would be amazed. And you get all your money back if you don't like it. No matter what. Mary Kay just reimburses me, how's that? I mean, I have women all the time who try stuff and send it back saying 'I didn't really like this lipstick color' and that's fine. I could send it back to Mary Kay. Of course most of the time I just eat the cost because I make so much it's not worth the time to fill out the paperwork but still. You should try it!"

The whole time I am walking towards my car, an ever-widening chasm between us. And she's STILL talking! "OH be careful of that oncoming car! It was so nice to meet you. I hope to hear from you. I love people! I'm going into HomeGoods now, take care!"

Sheesh! So my advice to you, dear reader, who I've just made suffer as much as I did a few hours ago, don't make eye contact with overly-friendly women talking too loudly in checkout lines. If you grunt their way, they might fall for your "bubbly" personality and try to recruit (infect) you. You are forewarned...!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I feel very small now

I held it in all day until just now. The number of times I have cried on the way home over boys is now becoming epic and I feel more alone than ever. I'm in a mood but I won't really mean it long-term; I want to keep trying, it's just so hard to think about right now.

I pulled one of my guy BFFs aside today to ask him the questions I couldn't ask the Cyclist.

Why? Is it that I am fatter or not pretty enough or am I too easygoing and thus not opinionated enough?

Why am I so unlovable? And why am I even going there? Why do I suck so hard, not just at fucking dating, but at obviously being strong and not giving a fuck?

I guess I will never be the person who doesn't give a fuck.

I need someone who knows this dark, awful, cold place but I am too ashamed of my feelings to reach out right now.

I hate our society that worships the kind of beauty I will never have. I hate that I struggle with so much.  I hate that life looks so easy for so many people.
  • How to keep your heart open when it breaks:
    "Siena picked up their stiff little bodies and held them to her heart. She kissed them on their teeny lips and said, “You were so loved, little raccoons. I’m sorry you didn’t get to live very long, but one little girl loved you.”
  • Permission to break my heart:
    "And I told Siena that some day, someone she loved, someone she gave permission to break her heart... might break her heart, and she might feel just like she did now, like she didn’t want to give anyone permission to break her heart again. She might want to shut down her heart so it wouldn’t hurt like it did today.... And she said, “No, Mama....When you fall in love, you should leave a little crack in your heart, even when you feel like you should lock it. And that way, the right person can always sneak in.”"
This is my gratitude list because even though I am sad now, there were some nice things about getting to know him.
Dear Cyclist,
Thank you for:
  • Introducing me to some nice music (Floating Men)
  • Making me feel appreciated for a short while
  • Being good company
  • Introducing me to the fun HBO hit Girls
  • Being thoughtful and generous
  • Sharing your stuff & space so freely
  • Treating me wonderfully anyway
To those I tried to love: I am sorry it didn't work out. But one tiny girl cared for you.

Someday I will try again. I don't know when, but some day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012


It was when we were lying on the couch quietly reading together, my legs sprawled across his lap, his fingers absentmindedly skimming my pant leg that I decided I would let myself fall for him. Never mind the outcome, never mind if he ever returned the feelings, never mind how fragile I can be and how much it hurts when things end. I wanted to feel whatever I felt without shutting it down prematurely.

He walked me to the metro, 4 blocks away, my bag in his one hand and his other entwined around my own and swinging gently, laughter enveloping us in a cozy cocoon. But when we got to the station, he didn't kiss me. We hugged shyly and I got on the train and headed east.

It's been 3 months. We haven't had the "let's just see each other" talk and maybe we never will.

We had some friction the night before, but he's not the rough type and it passed in a way that left me still feeling warm afterwards. I hugged him as he washed dishes at the sink, quietly grateful for this difference.

I thought I know how this will end. I will become attached and then restless because you are not. Maybe your heart will always remain with the girl who cannot love you back and I am just helping you pass the time. So maybe this won't be love. But I will cook for you and you will make room for me and we can shelter in a pocket of togetherness until the cold passes.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Be the Chief Operating Officer of your life.

"Since I am the Chief Operating Officer of my life, I have looked over the budget, the staff, the product and the maintenance of my life and have begun to see what makes this life run more efficiently....Not everyone that I wish were in my life really fit, so forcing it is a waste of my time and energy…it’s the people and places that I love effortlessly and that love me the same way that are part of my authentic life path....

"When scientists do research about primates, they often come up with the same observation. They do better when there is a strong sense of fellowship, or community. They have less attacks, more food, less injury, more reproduction. Literally, their chromosomes are stronger when they are part of a peaceful, well paired, in-sync group.

"Today, I promise to take action to value the village that feels right for me. I will reach out more and be of service. To follow Don Miguel Ruiz,  I will try to do my best, not take things personally, never assume and be impeccable with my word. I will recognize when the pairing doesn’t work, and move on."

- Jen Smith,

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm irritable today.

I'm irritable today. Venting:

1. Thanksgiving is SUCH a pain in the ass. Every year, my mom threatens to bowl the turkey down the driveway because she hates everything and everyone on that day, and then the rest of us catch it and hate each other. Conversation revolves around NOT triggering turkey-bowling, until someone brings up politics and religion, and someone always does, and I am usually the only person in the room with different views so I get the joy of feeling attacked while pouring gravy. If you haven't had this experience, I highly recommend it. It's great.
On top of that, the drive that normally takes me 4 hours takes 6 because of traffic, and it's not even congenial traffic, it's angry traffic, because everyone on the road is heading into a situation just like the above.

2. I made the mistake, in an effort to "include" family, of telling them the Cyclist and I went on a bike ride.

A BIKE ride, mind you, not a romantic date with roses, right? But idiot me sent a picture as proof: the cyclist and I looking ratty and worn, on top of a wooden overlook in some nature preserve. I have my arm extended with my shitty phone camera and we are attempting weak smiles. The bags under my eyes are so dark it looks like I have black eyes and so I am attempting to hide this by angling my face slightly towards him.


IT'S BEEN 2.5 MONTHS. Yes, I like him. I would like him a lot more if he made eye contact and seemed to like me back so please do not start shopping for the mother-in-law dress. We are still working on the getting-to-know-eachother part. I do not need the pressure of frenzied, hopeful exclamations to ward off Old Maid syndrome. And YES I just happen to look happy when I smile. It's a signal genetically honed in humans for millions of years: bare your teeth and no one attacks.

It's going to be a blast when I get to tell her it's over.

Oh and they JUST invited me to bring him for Thanksgiving. That wouldn't be awkward at all, nope. "Dinner isn't awful enough, why don't you bring the guy you like so we can alienate him before he likes you too much to run away?" RIGHT?

3. So, since I brought it up, I do like him. A lot. I will reserve the "crazy" label for a point that feels appropriate, like mutual feelings.

4. VENUS WILL BE IN MY HOUSE OF TRUE LOVE the entire time I am going to be completely unfucking available and traveling the entire next month. Fuck! Or whatever the hell planet will assist with my total and true happiness forever. I'm doomed. Clearly! And don't say, "oh you will meet him on your travels!" because I'm going to be sitting on 40 acres of farmland in a cabin alone with only horses and rabbits outside   for some of that time. It can't get any less likely to happen before New Year's, I'm just saying.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Spent the weekend cycling with the Cyclist. Three days of bike riding
bliss. I was worried he'd want to scale Mt. Everest since he's an
athlete and I'm, well, NOT, but he let me set the pace and seemed
content. Like, content that I was content which was weird because I
half-expected him to bark out expectations I'd be sure to fail, like
"One more hill! So what if it's ninety degrees? Work hard for me!
Prove you're worthy of my attention! Plus you need to work off that
last oreo!"; not because he's ever done this but because some part of
me is still used to disappointing.

I haven't really mentioned the getting-to-know him part to anyone
because experience has taught me to be wary -- people unfold and you
only find out whether the fit works over time. But not including the
hiccup where I thought we'd end things and shift strictly into a
friendship, it's been about 2.5 months now that we're slowly getting
to know each other. We don't talk about feelings and we haven't had
the "let's be exclusive" talk yet, and I can't tell how into me he is
because he is reserved but my goodness he treats me with care. A girl
could fall for someone that attentive and kind.

Like, one tiny thing that caught me off guard: while watching a show
together, he called out from the kitchen "want a yogurt?" "Sure!" I
said. He brought over my favorite flavor, one he happens to hate. Not
only did he pay attention during my boring, unsolicited "zomg I love
that flavor" testimonial but he went out and BOUGHT some. Just for me.
When I didn't even know if I would ever set foot in his apartment

He also walks me out to my car no matter the time or weather or even
if I'm parked right out front and only have 4 steps from the elevator
to my front seat. And then he hands me little care packages secretly
assembled while I am getting ready to leave -- apples carefully cut &
wrapped for my ride home and fig newtons for a later treat.

I am the effusive, affectionate one and I can't always tell if he
welcomes this or merely tolerates it but I fill with warmth when I see
him anyway because of the way he treats me. Maybe he went to Boyfriend
Finishing School and this is just his M.O. but lucky me, to know this
private and sweet soul for whatever time we continue to share.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


The Cyclist is coming over soon to CYCLE and ack, my leg muscles are killing me from god knows what since I didn't work out at all this week and my place is a wreck and my roommates have left onion peels on the floor in the kitchen and leaves all over the living room and I still haven't made it to the mailbox so there's mail sitting all over my desk and did I even pay the rent this month? AND I have no food to offer him except a packet of dry miso soup mix but no time to go foodshopping and barely any time for a shower and I can barely walk because I'm so sore from the obviously enormous task of rolling out of bed making it doubly embarrassing that he's all buff and in shape and emailed me this morning to let me know he'd be over for our giant bike ride AFTER he went to the gym. He's pumping iron and I'm applying ice packs to my legs so he won't know how hard it'll be for me to pedal. I hope I don't have a heart attack on the trail trying to keep up. Also this is the first time he's going to see my place so it really needs to be spotless.Yikes!

Now I must do all teh things!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So this happened.

This is an old subject but I'm condensing stuff from various places all to here. So this happened once:

Guy: "Marry me?"

Me: "But it's only been 5 minutes."

Guy: "But I can tell you're the one."

Me: "Can we at least wait 20 minutes?"

Guy: "Fine, I'll wait until the end of time for you."

Me: "Don't "wait" because I don't know if I'll be ready in 20 minutes or even *40* minutes. Maybe never."

Guy: "That's okay if I can't have you I don't want anyone."

Five minutes passes...

Guy: "Uh, hey, I reopened my dating profile and met someone. I wish it had been you but whatev."


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Isn't it just easier to LISTEN?

I keep having this bird's eye view of human behavior:
person A: I don't like x. Stop doing it. (Where x is teh crazy, or mean or shitty or condemning or moody or inflexible or whatever behavior.)

person B: Noooooo!! (Justifies reasons to keep doing x, why x cannot stop, why you're wrong to dislike x, whatever. May even "gaslight" to get you to quiet down.)

[time passes]

person A: I'm really unhappy because X keeps happening.

person B: [head in sand]

person A: I'm leaving.

person B: WHAT???
Isn't it just easier to stop doing the thing person A hates?

Monday, November 5, 2012

suffering is overrated

me: "Have you ever been in a stormy relationship?"

him: "No. I don't understand that."

I don't understand it anymore either.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The search string of shame, open sores (Open Source?)

So, I read the Carolyn Hax column religiously. Someone wrote in a few days ago that they discovered they had herpes and wondered what to do now that they were dating. They're horrible because they wanted permission not to tell dates if they were only about to have casual sex, which is basically proof of being a terrible person and so I got all judgy and then got sucked into the comment thread. In there, someone posted a link to an article titled "HOW TO TELL SOMEONE YOU HAVE HERPES" and I thought, huh, how DO you tell someone you have herpes? So I clicked on it, read the article and promptly forgot about it.


When I realized OH NO. That was on my WORK. COMPUTER.  Now the entire IT Department will think I have herpes. Great. I'll bring in brownies and they'll be all "oh, don't touch those, that girl with the open sores made them."


My only defense is weak. When I am ACTUALLY researching a disease I have for reals, or think I have, I SCOUR the fucking internet for information on that shit. For weeks. You best believe it ain't no one-click-satisfaction experience. But imagine me telling that to someone. "It was only in my search history ONCE! I mean, go LOOK at it! And see -- it's right after the advice column link!"

winter is coming

I feel like I should be ashamed of the reason it had to end so it's difficult for me to say it. It feels like I'm broadcasting proof of my unworthiness. Like, if I were special enough, it would have overcome the barrier. Even if logically I know that's not true.

So, why did it end?

He is hung up on someone else. He likes me and all, but is crazy about her. That's why his signals were subdued.

It was really nice of him to be honest with me.

And I am really glad I asked.

The exchange was very friendly, really was a nice way to end things. But oh how I hate that moment where you both know it's over but now he has to walk you out because the neighborhood might be unsafe and you both are smiling starchy smiles and all you want is to get the eff away so you can mope alone with terrible thoughts like why am I so unworthy of love? I will be alone forever.

What a ridiculous fantasy, to think love can conquer all. Love can be crushed by the most mundane things.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

meh, finalized.

We talked. It's over. I ended it. But my instincts were correct.

I just deleted my online dating accounts. I don't want to date anyone anymore right now. I will spend the winter reading novels. Fuck love.

You know, we weren't emotionally attached so why do I feel so shitty?

A fuck to be proud of. A passionate fuck.

I sat on the couch with a friend quietly blogging while he played Call of Duty.

"FUCK!!!" he yelled, an explosive outburst which reverberated throughout the room and rattled around my body, tickling my funny bone. I giggled. He continued playing, deep in concentration, oblivious to my amusement.

Now THAT is a fuck to be proud of. A passionate fuck. Not a lame sputtering oozing from lazy lips but a hearty revilement full of life and fight. How can you not love a fuck like that?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

another meh update.

So, I said I would talk about my heart here on this blog. And lately I don't know what to say.

The Cyclist and I are developing a really nice foundation of trust and friendship. What I can't tell if we're developing is a sense of closeness. This amount of distance is okay in the early stages but it's starting to move past that. If it doesn't show signs of deepening, if we don't begin to connect more, it will start to feel empty.:(

I guess there's not much else to say.

Monday, October 15, 2012

short update: taking care

I'm feeling guarded about mentioning The Cyclist. It's the same reason people don't like to announce a pregnancy until it's more established -- too awkward to explain if it doesn't work out. And most don't work out. I mean, up to 1/3rd of all pregnancies fail before the woman even knows she's pregnant (a prof once told our class) and, so, what -- it's gotta be like 99% for fledgling relationships.

We had a date last Friday, before I headed out of state for a family thing The date was simple -- assembling  furniture and crepe-eating but something about the allen wrench stimulated a deeper conversation than usual and we shared more stuff from the past. The process is still moving very slow but that's good. We only see each other like, once a week (? it's not regular nor a given) so the slow pace seems fitting.

Although he is extremely private, tentative bonds of trust are starting to form between us. It's easy to feel affection for someone who treats you so sweetly. He has extremely thoughtful ways, like he will give me little care packages of food when I leave his house or if we are sharing a glass of water, he holds it out to me first before he takes a sip. He gives me the gift of his attention.

Many of my relationships have had a caretaking slant but it's unusual to feel the roles switched in this way where I am being cared for. I am so used to feeling forgotten, secondary or inadequate that I don't even know what to do with his insistence that my thoughts and feelings are important. I want to give back but he doesn't seem to want/need much. I'm not sure how to show him how much I appreciate these things other than being expressive. But I feel very warm inside when I see him because he's so kind to me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Does it count as a date if it's a counseling session?

Two nights ago I sat at a picnic table with a friend while we swirled paint onto canvasses.
Friend: This is going to make a great sound when it lands in the trash.

Me: Yes. It doesn't matter if we hate it (because I do) because we're just experimenting, right?

Friend: Right. And doing this in the dark was a great idea. I can't even see it. So I'm not full of rage like I was in that shitty drawing class we took.

Me: Ha!

Friend: So how's it going with that new guy?

Me: I think we broke up.

Friend: Why?

Me: We didn't email at ALL today. So it's probably over.

Friend: Oh, sorry to hear about that.

Me (swirling gobs of black onto painting): Eh, what can you do.

Friend: Did you get back together with your ex?

Me: Yes, we have a date tonight. We never even TALKED about the breakup, can you believe it?

Friend: It will probably come up in couple's counseling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

another quickie

This morning a friend texted me. "I'm sorry this is last minute but I'm trapped at the doctor's and they won't let me leave unless it looks like I have someone to come pick me up."
I texted back, "be right there."

When I arrived, he was still in a back room. I messaged, "I'm here! They said you need a note from your mom. I told them I AM your mom. How do I pronounce your last name again?"

Be sure to call me next time YOU need a ride. I'll only embarrass you a little bit.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear new guy: some things I won't tell you yet.

Dear new guy,

Some things I won't tell you yet. Maybe never.

Thank you for not pressing me about my past. I don't really know how to talk about it right now.

Thank you for not making fun of the fact that I cannot navigate around the city.

Thank you for not asking me why that movie made me all misty.

Thank you for hugging me when I left and looking like you didn't want to see me go.

Thank you for being kind to me. I need that more than you might know.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Where does fear come from?

The origin of fear is loss of confidence.
  • Pain at the dentist.
  • The heartache of failed love.
  • Lost in the city.
  • Injured while skiing.
  • Falling down.
  • Betrayed.
  • Failing.
Before we experience these things, we are innocent. The first time a bare knee hits the pavement, we instantly become educated to the possibility of falling off our bikes.

We become scared when we realize we can be hurt.

How do you get your groove back?

You gain confidence back through through repeated exposure, a sense of control, and practice.

Keep doing that thing. Exposure takes away the newness. Did you know that it takes about 4 times of repeating something before it stops feeling as new? That's the minimum number of times you will, say, need to drive someplace before you start to recognize the route (although it may take 6-10 times before you start feeling bolder).

Gain a sense of control by having training wheels or a GPS or exploring the route when there's no deadline. Date without giving your heart away until you're more sure you're both on the same page. Get back up on your skis and try again. Take a class. Keep dancing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why are people such dicks about power?

I spend a good deal of time thinking about this because I see it all the time.

Why are people such dicks about power?

Money is power, beauty is power, knowledge is power. Share it, don't wield it. If we share, then all of us have a chance to be powerful in our own way. Everyone wins.

Sometimes when I see a phenomenon in human nature recurring, I think oh, there must be some root in evolutionary biology. Some reason humans have adopted this behavior. An out-for-thyself mentality probably comes from a time when successful survival really did depend on how well you looked out for yourself. That's outdated in today's world but there are still stories of people climbing on the backs of others with ne'er a thank you to all those that served as steps.

Maybe that's why I like science so much. The curriculum by nature instills the humble adage "we are standing on the shoulders of giants" into the psyches of its student body and I'm aware of this every time I turn on a light or fumble with my phone. I try not to become so lost in my daily routine that I forget how lucky I am.

This is also one reason I like giving back, in my small way. I'm not building circuits or inventing things but I know people and I can love them. Yesterday I thought I don't care if I was snowed sometimes. I gave with an open heart. What of it? We give what we can when we can and we're all the better for it. I've gotten better at not being too foolish though. Reciprocity is a good measure. "Never love anybody who treats you like you're ordinary" wrote Oscar Wilde. Don't make someone your priority when you are only their option.

Back to the power thing. I think there's more at play.

People want to preserve their value by not sharing their knowledge -- it dilutes their worth, perhaps -- but it's not just that. There's more.

We're a herd species, and if one member doesn't "get it" or is clueless, that feels like a threat to the rest of the pack. Maybe that's why there's so much derision for those who don't fit in.

If people look like they're not paying attention to themselves, well, then, they're the outlier ready to be snatched up by a lion. No one wants to be near that guy when he gets picked off.

Maybe that's also why there's so much peer pressure to conform.

It's safer to blend in on a grassy plain.

If we know this, though -- what's in our natures -- we can fight against it. Mind over instinct, bitches. We're better than that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Do we matter?

Everywhere I go, I see corporate campaigns. "____ matters!" Outreach consisting of imploring statements about value. This commonality -- that everyone is doing it -- is perhaps a reflection on an increasingly troubling state: bombarded with information overload, how do we REACH people anymore? How can we insert ourselves into the hearts of those around us? Puppies are dying and kittens are homeless and children are starving and forests are disappearing and people are illiterate and ohmygod, how do we rally support? Public giving reflects our pinched economy and the oversaturation of those things that tug on heartstrings.

And it exists on a personal level too. Do I matter? Did I matter? Was I important even in a small way? Even Gotye intoned this in the hit devoured by the hungry lovelorn: "But you didn't have to cut me off... make out like it never happened and that we were nothing." 

Can you have mattered even if your time with that person has ended? Why does it feel like all the nice things are erased just because they're not current? Maybe it is because we don't always get to hear, "Hey, you were really important to me. Thank you. I will never forget that."

So many conversations inside the head, so few make it out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

a quickie

I've got like, 12 minutes to post a quick update before I have to begin a freelance job. This has been a good week so far! I've been in incredibly good spirits. Not feeling alone despite being alone. Have been incredibly productive and physically active and even told myself that would justify being a pig again with the candy jar today despite attempts to break this habit. So, I fail there, but okay, I'm PMSing. Once fucking Aunt Flo arrives, the cravings should settle down.

The Cyclist is still away on a trip. We've been emailing though, every night. Nice letters. Nothing deep -- still getting to know each other but it's kinda nice. I like his writing voice. I told my mom about him. Well, 8 minutes left... will have to write more later.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dating rules

I love you I adore you!
Cripes, I thought she'd never leave...

How to filter dating profiles
(aka don't waste time!)

RULES, ho. Gotta have 'em. First off, no dinner dates. COFFEE. Then if you both hate each other instantly, you only have 20 minutes to suffer through, not TWO HOURS. (God, that was a shitty date.)

No long, drawn-out conversations either. ONE phone call before the date so you can hear their voice and see if it clicks. I only turned down one date because of the guy's voice but he sounded so much like Bill Clinton that I knew I'd never be able to concentrate on what he was actually saying.

You can't be messaging for eons either, you have to meet. It doesn't matter how well you click as pen pals, you still have to be attracted to each other and that can only be determined in person, no matter HOW compelling the photo.

Disclaimer: because these are my dating rules, these are targeted towards women looking for men.
1. Screen dating profiles carefully.

Red flags:

--- Mentioning sex, intimacy, or any reference to the physical aspects of a relationship:
Everyone loves getting it on, dude. Why you gonna mention it in your profile? That's just creepy. Any reference to sexual prowess or awesomeness in bed is TMI and just made me lose respect for you. The one time I overlooked this rule because I didn't actually catch the reference, I was sorry. Chemistry is as private as it is unpredictable and should not be mentioned in a profile. It it something only to be unveiled between two partners when the time feels right.

--- Signs of negativity:
That huge list of everything you don't want, sir, is also a turnoff. Statements like "please do not contact me if you have trust issues" or "not looking for someone to take care of" or "do not want someone with baggage" can hold valuable information to what went wrong before but here's why you're doing it wrong: people who fit those descriptions probably don't see themselves that way. So it won't work as a screening tool. You just have to get good at reading signs.

Aside from it being ineffective, the main reason I distrust negativity is that it can be sign that previous wrongs are carried too prominently and thus you may be categorized according to those that wronged them before. You will be viewed through the lens of other people's mistakes which is an unfair, reductionist view of all the  beautiful, unique snowflakes in the land of singledom.

It is also flippant to discard someone without seeing how they may actually manifest their issues and whether or not the good points override the bad. Someone might think they don't want to deal with trust issues, for example, but maybe it's not that substantial. A sense of flexibility and acceptance in a person is a sign of a generous nature, one of the most important qualities you can pick in a mate; people have to be discriminating, sure, but you don't want someone who's dismissive.

Negatives can also be a sign that there is a line of defenses guarding against getting close. Someone who is emotionally unavailable may be unconsciously looking for excuses as to why no one will be right.

--- Read into declarations:
If the dating profile says: "I am looking for an independent woman" that can be a sign that they may be vulnerable to feeling depended on or crowded. Most women who actually are independent wouldn't classify themselves as such; it's just part of their personality. For women who like very close connections or a lot of attention, this could be possibly interpreted as dependence, triggering a sensitive partner into aloofness. Pay attention to signals and don't get too invested too quickly.

Some dating rules advocate acting "cool" -- like you don't, in fact, need attention but then you will just find someone who doesn't like the real you. Why would you want that? If you like to be connected, then connect. If this is uncomfortable for a potential partner, you just learned something valuable and avoided a lonely relationship.
--- Income:
I get suspicious if people list income in their profile. The guys that I saw do this seemed on the egotistical side and bragged about their money (and then wondered why they were attracting money-grubbers). Income should be private until you and a partner establish appropriate trust levels.

--- Work:
They need to have a job. Ain't nothing going on but the rent. It's hard to respect someone with zero ambition who's not even trying to better themselves.

--- Angry or unsmiling photos: 
Really? That's the best they can do for a DATING profile? Maybe they never smile in real life either. I admit that I do look for a warm, open face.

--- Grammar & punctuation errors:
A dating profile is like a job interview: every person on a dating site should be putting their best foot forward. If their profile is riddled with errors, either they don't know or care about how they come across.

--- Lists too many books, movies, songs, etc.:
This isn't a common flag but I have seen it more than once. It's just weird that someone would list their top favorite 800 books, movies and songs. Who has time for this? Are they even working? Who even remembers that many? It seems obsessive.

--- Odd age range idiosyncracies:
If their preferred age range does not include their own age, that's weird.

2. Be selective about messaging back & forth:
"And you first met this guy in real life?
How do you know he's not some homicidal maniac?"

--- No corresponding with blank profilers:
Do not respond to anyone who does not have photos or details in their profile. Lots of people have logged in to surf before they were ready to put themselves out there, sure -- I've lurked through profiles too -- but I'm suspicious of anyone who reaches out while their own slate is blank.

--- Did they put some time into reading your profile?
Do not respond to anyone who does not give any indication of having spent the time to read your profile. "You're cute," "Hi" or any other short snippets do not warrant a response. Also ignore messages that look canned, like "Hi, your profile looks interesting and I thought we could meet." If they are interested in your profile, it will show in their contact.

--- The merit of old-fashioned ways:
I generally do not reach out or contact people first. Old-fashioned, I know. I will visit profiles and sometimes favorite or rank them highly but that's usually the most I will do.

Here's the benefit to being passive:
  • You get people who are actively looking. You won't get those who are dating someone and not logging in as often.
  • They'll see that you visited and so now they can check you out -- if they like what they see, they can initiate contact. This eliminates reaching out to someone who isn't receptive. I try to have my profile contain realistic pictures -- both flattering and those less so. Whoever still likes me at least knows what they're getting into looks-wise.
--- Avoid overt flirtatiousness or familiarity: 
Anything too flirty in a message, shut it down.

--- Permission to listen to your gut: 
If anything about your correspondence together turns you off (they write 17 pages, they sound too flippant, they talk about the last 10 women they blew off, etc.), shut it down politely. I had someone recently send a nice, thoughtful message and append it with the footnote that they were looking for a "50 Shades of Grey" type of relationship. I haven't read the book but I don't need to in order to know I will not be writing back.

--- Don't become penpals:
Don't spend too much time writing before you meet. I give it 1-3 weeks with several exchanges before I will meet. I do not give out my phone number until we are about to agree to meet.

--- Protect your identity:
Use the dating site to message and refer to yourself by your username to continue maintaining your privacy. Do not shift to your regular email until after you meet and establish trust.

--- No texting:
No texting before you meet unless you are communicating about the meetup. Texts carry an intimate tone and that informality is unwarranted until you meet and establish a connection.

3. One phone call:

Have one phone call before you meet. You can tell a lot about a person by their voice and also their personality and whether or not you click. Yes, you will both be nervous and guarded but this will save time from meeting if you find that you absolutely do not click at all.

If possible, use Google Voice or another resource to get an anonymous number.

4. Quick coffee date:

Meet in public and let someone know where you'll be. Safety first! That goes without saying. Here's what to look for on your first date:

--- Are you attracted?
Do you like the way your date looks, carries themselves, smells, etc.?

--- Is conversation easy?
It doesn't have to flow perfectly, but it's a good sign if conversation is easy on the first date. It means you have established a good rapport.

--- Watch negativity: 
If someone spends the date recounting their many wrongs or if they have been "screwed over" many times, you're next in line to be badmouthed. Steer clear.

--- The ex should not be in the room: 
You want to learn about each other's history as trust levels dictate but too much talk about an ex can indicate that their presence is too large. I once dreamed I was lying in bed with a new partner, ready for sleep and their ex lay between us. I didn't take the dream seriously at the time but it turned out to be more telling than I realized.

--- Is the conversation one-sided?
Make sure they ask you about yourself and seem interested in getting to know you.

Aaaand. the horror stories!

See how MUCH can go wrong at the Annals of Online Dating.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Benefits/pitfalls to dating someone who was once married

Why you should date an ex-wife
(preferably not yours unless y'all fixed whatever was wrong)
  • She will make you food.
  • If you get sick, she will dote over you. (Well, at least pick a Jewish mother-type. heh)
  • She'll be good at housekeeping. (As long as she's not divorced because of her shitty homemaking skills.)
  • She will understand the concept of downtime.
  • She won't be in a rush to get married again
  • She will understand the value of your happiness adding to your happiness as a couple so she will encourage you to pursue things you enjoy.
  • She'll be used to sleeping next to someone so will be a good bed companion.
  • Will understand what can go wrong in a relationship and wants to have learned from it so it doesn't happen again.
  • She won't want it to fail next time so will be extra cautious going in and extra motivated staying in. 
  • She'll want to share her life with you. 

And pitfalls:
  • You will still have to kill all the spiders.
  • You will probably get less leeway for the things that she disliked last time around.
  • She will be more sensitive to normal conflict, afraid it might indicate pending doom.
  • She might be so used to being a wife that she doesn't remember how to be a girlfriend anymore.
  • She will want attention and reassurance that you think she's amazing and are crazy about her. (Neglect can be a sad side-effect of longterm relationships where an inevitable shift to devoting time & resources to career & family take precedence over the relationship.)
  • She may be more guarded about the value of her time and thus desire more help around the house.
  • She will want new furniture and things you can call yours together and not leftover from either partner's past but, practical girl she is, she won't feel comfortable acting on it because the expense will make this idea unrealistic. But she'll want it though.

And now for the funny divorce cartoons part:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

HOES. Hoes.

Submitted a sketch to an exhibit and saw it displayed today. This is the first time I've ever been in a gallery, and, while thrilling (even though it's a joint no one has ever heard of or ever will AND my piece is mounted next to the bubble gum mound unwittingly erected by bored 'tweens accompanying mothers who sneaked over for the free cookies -- Weight Watchers points don't count if it's not consumed in your own house), I still didn't announce the affair to my friends. I'm secretly extremely judgmental about art and as a beginner am intensely aware of my skill level. Zoo animals' drawing skillz can hump mine; I bow to evolutionary prowess.

Still, people asked me about my piece today.

"HOES," I wanted to say, pointing to my sketch, "see these lines? That's where I fucked up! And they took it anyway. Haha!"

Some people were walking around coughing and sniffling and so I made sure I licked whatever they touched. Disease can be inspiration for my next piece.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

7 things.

    1. Why do people think it's enough to run 0.02 seconds of water on their hands after using the bathroom? That is not WASHING.
    2. My favorite new saying, coined from Arrogant Ass's blog: "Can't a bitch have a vice?"
    3. I may or may not have stapled my cardigan yesterday.
    4. I hate the word "cardigan," it's so pretentious.
    5. Although how can you hate a whole type of clothing? But I do.
    6. I went to an event at my old workplace a couple nights ago and saw bigboobs, I can tell she still hates me. I'm sorry but I cannot help that I noticed -- stop handling your tits in public then!!
    7. Note to self: next time landlord has an inspection, PUHLEASE put away the medical textbook on The Genito-Urinary Tract.

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    the one-sidedness of a punitive stance (link to advice column)

    This quote in an advice column got me thinking about the one-sidedness of a punitive stance:
    "You’re the one who tore our family apart, so you’re going to have to live with the consequences." (Carolyn Hax column)
    Why is it so easy to blame? "It takes two to tango" is such a worn cliche it could almost fall from unconscious lips and yet when it comes time to apply, it is forgotten.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    The Cyclist

    Date #5 with The Cyclist. We went to trivia night at some pub and I congratulated myself on knowing that Walmart is discontinuing the _________ (Amazon Kindle). He did great. The last set was listening to clips of 90s songs and guessing them and then afterwards, we left the pub and wandered around the city looking for dessert, holding hands and singing one of the songs they'd just had us guess ("Jumper" by Third Eye Blind). "I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend. Cut ties to aaaalll the lies that you've been living in, aaand.... if you do not want to see me again, I would understaaaayaaannddd."  

    He's fun. Maybe we shouldn't like each other. He's a huge Dylan fan. I once cried at a Katy Perry song. I'm very open (I mean, this BLOG, yo). He's extremely private. He hates social media. That's part of my JOB. I'm fatter and he lives at the gym. He runs for fun. I would maybe run from a serial killer for about 20 feet. When I come home from work, I immediately dive into a billion projects and he actually gets to relax for the evening. But despite the odds, our rapport is really good.

    He cut up slices of apple and surprise-handed them to me in a little plastic bag for my trip home. I was so touched by the tiny gesture. I thanked him, but if I gushed -- if I showed how I really felt -- would it look pathetic, like I am not too used to being doted over? Because I'm not. And then would that be permission to stop? I really like this whole being treated sweetly thing. I can't imagine ever getting used to it.

    The getting-to-know eachother process is moving extremely slowly but that's good. I need that right now.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    This is how procrastination starts

    (I wrote this Oct. 2010)

    And this is how it starts, the procrastination.

    Yesterday I heard something scratching incessantly at the air conditioning unit in my bedroom. Half-asleep, I picked up the nearest thing within reach, a paperback, and tossed it towards the A/C, thinking the noise would scare off any wayward critters before they ended up inside. I'm no fool. I realize it's warm, comfortable and dry in here and this observation is not lost to birds and squirrels.

    So, I tossed this homemade anti-beastie device whilst gripped by the tentacles of slumber, one eye completely closed and the other squinting sluggishly, collapsing immediately back into soft pillows the second the book left my fingertips.

    In my eager plans, I neglected to account for the Rube Goldbergesque architecture and placement of the site of attack; namely my bed, a fake plant, the A/C unit, one airborne book, and two decorative vases.

    Over the next four seconds, the book, trajectory slightly altered by the fake plant, hit the unit, toppling a nearby vase which fell and bounced off a second vase.

    I am convinced that there exists in the human body a separate nervous system designed to expedite the processing of shattering glass, fingernails on a chalkboard, screeching brakes, mating cats and screaming babies. This consists of a direct line linking the eardrum to the ZOMG!! alarm center of the brain.

    The last time I heard glass explode at this volume was when I accidentally left a plate on the stove. A burner was mistakenly turned on to "high" and instantly rendered my attractive dinnerware into shrapnel.

    At this most recent shattering of glass, I bolted upright out of bed and surveyed the damage. Shards of glass EVERYWHERE. Even across the room several feet away.

    Note that it was 7am Sunday morning.


    So I did what any responsible person would do: I went back to sleep.

    Fast forward to noon.

    Mind you, I'm catching up on sleep from Friday's minor surgical procedure and so I wasn't eager to leap out of bed even then. But I got up, carefully focusing on not slicing open my feet. I'd already been cut open with a sharp instrument a few days ago and didn't relish another reason to revisit this activity.

    I bent over carefully and began picking up the pieces.
    Brain: You realize this isn't going to work. You cannot pick up every last little piece. We need to vacuum.

    me: okay.

    me: wait. I don't have a vacuum anymore.

    Brain: Fine. BUY a vacuum.

    me: okay.

    me: but... I can't just leave the house. I need to shower and dry my hair and then redress the bandages and then clean out my purse and balance my checkbook!*

    And so that is how I started my afternoon nap.

    The mere prospect of the steps required to attack this new dilemma filled me with an overwhelming fatigue demanding no less than the complete and utter abandonment of consciousness.

    I couldn't just pick up a vacuum and clean like normal people, I had to shower and shave and leave the house and get gas and drive to the store and look for things which will have to be plugged in and tested because I have OCD about buying crappy appliances. . . I could just see entire hours whittling away in which I neither write NOR rest, effectively meeting none of my personal needs for a Sunday.

    So I bought a vacuum online.

    Then I carefully picked up as much glass as possible, only slicing into one digit in the process. But I got my R&amp;R!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    "Our culture is not nurturing."

    I read this stirring editorial in the New York Times yesterday and I love this quote:
    "Our culture is not nurturing. We ask each other, “How are you doing?” but we do not really want to know. We do not really want that person to say anything other than “fine,” because that would mean we would have to listen, to really care, something that most of us have not even done with ourselves. ... And as a result, we have a “fine” culture that is everything but fine. Medicated smiles, robotic responses, whole lifetimes that pass under the guise of “fine” when all we really want is for someone to ask and care." 

    Alexandra Heather Foss 
    An old friend once lost her mother and sister to cancer and later lamented about how coworkers avoided her at work afterwards. "They didn't even tell me 'sorry for your loss' or anything." She sniffed.

    Personal troubles can be such a clumsy topic to broach, especially at work. After my husband and I separated, I basically announced that I would not be talking about it. (Well, except to close friends.) I did this because I couldn't run the risk of breaking down. Even the slightest mention, tilt of the head or sympathetic gesture would make me choke up. I hate HATE crying in front of anyone. It has always seemed like a cruel gift from the universe to grant the girl who hates being vulnerable such easy access to tears.

    So maybe this is why people don't say something when someone is going through a hard time. They don't know if it feels intrusive. But not saying anything can be worse. Either way, pain is a clumsy subject.

    One of the reasons I started blogging was experimenting with this side, with being open. It might be hard to believe but I wasn't always this expressive. I'm very good at listening but wasn't so much with sharing. I started my first blog in 2005. Not an ounce of it was personal. I used it as a digital collection device. It took another couple of years to gather the courage to write even on a superficial level and then only fairly recently did I begin this, what you're reading now.

    As difficult as it's been to be open, it's also been one of the most rewarding experiences because of the feedback (sometimes commented, sometimes emailed). It's allowed me to understand I'm not alone. And now this benefit is becoming mainstream -- people are talking about how vulnerability is the true gift that allows us to relate to each other and accept our own humanity (e.g.: Ted Talk by Brene Brown on the Power of Vulnerability -- 20 min video). I've enjoyed deeper relationships from this kind of sharing. It's so  rewarding to deeply relate.

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    And that is dying.

    I read these words from a comforting booklet, Gone From My Sight, that hospice provided on the process of dying:
    I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

    Then someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!"

    "Gone where?"

    Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

    Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!"

    And that is dying.

    ~ Henry Van Dyke

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Tribute to Mr. X. I never knew you but I loved your son.

    I went to a funeral service yesterday for an ex. I was never fortunate enough to meet the deceased -- his father -- while we were dating but sitting in the room amongst so many who'd gathered to send off this loved man, I felt like I wanted to pay tribute somehow too. I'm not particularly religious nor do I feel like the dead can hear us when they're gone, but I wanted to express something anyway. So quietly, in my head, I offered a little prayer.
    Dear Mister X, I loved your son once. I still do, although now we are only friends. From stories, I can see he got his sense of humor from you, his ability to joke quickly, laugh heartily, and live fully.  I can imagine as a father, one of the most important things in life you want is for your kids to turn out okay. He has so much to offer the world. He doesn't know or believe it yet, but those who love him see his many gifts and treasure him. He has many friends and we will look out over him now that you have joined your wife -- his mom. We won't let him be alone. Thank you for raising this wonderful young man who has taught me so much.
    I was so proud of him when he got up to share some memories, unrehearsed. He made the entire room laugh on a somber day.

    Afterwards, when everyone drifted away and we were alone, he slumped, face turned away from me. "Today was really, really fucking hard." 

    "I know," I said, rubbing his back gently. "I'm glad you invited me."

    "I'm glad you came."

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    the things that terrify

    I keep doing these things that terrify me. Maybe I have PTSD of the heart. Or maybe it's that, despite the fear, I keep trying. But it means I constantly fight to untangle the knots inside.

    Have you ever had a true panic attack? I don't mean feeling scared, I mean an honest-to-goodness experience where fear soaks your entire body and you feel you must fight for your life. I have once. I plunged, unprepared, into the ocean with a scuba tank on my back.

    Know what happens when you dive into the water with giant steel weight attached to your body? You sink. Immediately.

    There is no thinking following the sensation of being dragged under. You just fight. You fight not to die, because that's what it feels like.

    I clawed mightily towards the surface and when I reached it, I grabbed onto a float, ripped the regulator out of my mouth and gasped for air, then climbed weakly onto the boat and that was it. It wasn't until later that I even realized what happened -- my BCD hadn't been inflated -- but the next time I climbed into the water to snorkel a few days later I was uneasy and had to remind myself, "You just FEEL uncomfortable, nothing is actually wrong."

    I found myself saying the same thing last night on my date, the 3rd date with The Cyclist (the guy who is thinner than me that I mentioned earlier).

    The date was great, rapport awesome. He makes me giggle.

    He leaned forward to kiss me last time I'd seen him and paused. "Wait, what's your last name?"

    I said, "You were going to kiss me and you don't even know my last name?" I laughed. "I guess you didn't google my number yet."

    I knotted up inside, just like I almost always do. But nothing was actually wrong. I'm just terrified of being hurt. Last thing I wanted was to reveal this though -- that's CRAZY GURRL!! territory and I hate crazy. So I didn't say anything. And then something in me realized he was scared too. Not too scared to try though. And so we stood facing eachother in the dark and tentatively reached out.

    I tried to tell him things. "Asplenia," he said, cutting me off. "that's your business."

    Later, when sleep finally overtook me, I dreamt I was standing with the Dark-Haired Boy. He hugged me tight, lifted my face and asked of me one thing: "Be kind."

    I don't know how to be kind when there can be no certainty. But nothing is certain. We are wandering souls, connecting to discover and explore. This is a temporary place, this space between loneliness and love. By its definition, something temporary implies it is discarded when no longer needed. But that doesn't have to mean it lost value, right? As long as we all treat each other with care?

    This is the thing I struggle with most, that knots me inside.

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    The fallacy of too many options

    It's so easy to browse people online -- the choices appear endless, each profile seemingly better than the last.

    Imagine if our jobs were like that, if our bosses could see 30 competing resumes a day for our position. But they don't, because institutional knowledge & established history mean a lot in work relationship and so (luckily) employees aren't tossed aside for someone who looks better on paper. But after a failed relationship, we become wary. Discriminating.

    As we well should.

    Profiles won't say what you really need to know though: "I will care about your feelings. I will treat you like a cherished treasure. I will be happy to see you even when it's the 10,000th time. I'll rub your back when you're sick and make you food. I'll want you to have time to yourself. I'll support the things that make you happy & fulfilled even if they don't include me. But I'll share myself with you too. I'll give 100%."

    Profiles also will not tell you what only time will: can you relax around each other? Is the chemistry good? Do you have similar beliefs and goals?

    And do they walk the walk that they talk? People can say a lot of things. But you should pay attention to what they do.

    Only time will tell these things. How much time? I don't know, but usually a few months is enough (according to Chris Rock: "You're not dating them. You're dating their representative!"). I'm compiling some tips to evaluate though, coming soon. If you have any advice to share, happy to hear. (<-- My way of saying PUHLEASE help me get better at this! lol)

    Dating By Chris Rock by UZI4you

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    An unsexy conversation about porn

    A friend asked recently on a social network for feedback on how his friends felt about pornography.

    Maybe I fit into a stereotype but I'm not much into porn. I'd much rather read some steamy love scene in slow, flowery, luscious detail (and I do a fair share of my own writing and daydreaming when inspired) but I don't really seek pictures. But it never bothered me if my partner enjoyed porn. I mean, whatever, right? As long as no one is getting hurt.

    But this can be a complicated topic -- even if we supposed everyone in the porn industry was there consensually, are they okay? Are they happy? I mean, I'd hope that anyone who tried that type of work and found it injurious to the psyche would leave, but what if you felt trapped by money or stigma? Maybe you'd be typecast as a monochromatic actor after your first smutty film and doors to Hollywood would slam shut. Or maybe it'd feel like there's little choice because shameless wages couldn't sustain. Or maybe some people would stay despite inner misery, like emotional cutters, unable to stop themselves from doing the things that damaged them. There's probably a huge range of effects, as varied as the people themselves.

    No one said this couldn't apply to any profession though, or even anything. People stay with all sorts of things despite ill personal effects.

    So yeah, I have mixed feelings about porn. I have mixed feelings about anyone justifying anything that has a large, negative personal cost.

    What I do find extremely appealing, however, is passion. Passion in work, passion in love, lovemaking, art, expression, child-rearing, whatever. People can tell if you're engaged. Maybe what I find missing in a lot of porn is passion -- some of it just looks so detached and that seems boring to me.

    Chuck Pahlaniuk once said, "You can go a lifetime without feeling anything but skin."

    I want more than skin.

    Sunday, September 9, 2012

    Brazilian keratin treatment didn't work for me (first pix of other people, then my own)

    Note: I start this post with a funny story and then include my own before & after pictures when I finally decided to get a professional Brazilian keratin treatment. But I first started with the drugstore kit (which did not work!).
    Normally, I’m terribly skeptical about hair products but one day I was googling how to tame frizz and came across a bunch of magical before & after photos for something called the “Brazilian Keratin” hair treatment. It supposedly transforms curly hair into sleek, straight locks. I was hooked. For example, behold:

    Before and After Photos of Brazilian Keratin Treatment

    Steps for being me:
    This is the stuff I used.

    If it can do THAT, I thought, maybe it’ll work for me? Usually nothing does, but it only feels like I’ve tried everything. I hadn’t yet tried this.
    I looked up more info. It appeared that the process involved binding keratin onto the hair using formaldehyde so it must be applied under high heat. The whole routine takes hours and can only be done under the careful precision of a skilled salon artist and costs hundreds of dollars. 
    I usually try to avoid activities which involve immersing flammable body parts like hair in baths of toxic carcinogens, especially when large amounts of money are required but I was intrigued. I couldn’t give the idea up just yet. Maybe I wasn’t ready for a salon visit but I had to learn more. Time for a visit to the store.
    Halfway through hair aisle, I realized with horror that I only paid for 6 minutes at the parking meter. This would not be enough time to sniff, read, and analyze every hair product in stock.
    I returned to the car like a good citizen, determined to fix the error, and promptly paid for the spot next me by mistake.
    I considered just driving away but a small burst of rage made me boldly defiant. I returned to the store in disgust and rebellion, taunting parking ticket fate. It was easier to just abhor the entire city than fix things at this point.
    But success! I found a box treatment that sounded natural and immediately congratulated myself on my superior hair-product-shopping skills.
    When I got home, I read directions 3 times. Wait. Why do you need gloves to apply avocado oil? 
    "DO NOT GET ON SKIN" said the warning. "USE IN WELL-VENTILATED AREA." I hiked open the window and continued reading. "Apply product to dry hair. DO NOT OVERSATURATE."
    I oversaturated. 
    Now I had a half hour to kill before the next step: using a flat iron to “seal” the cuticle. 
    I decided to use this time wisely and plan my packing strategy for moving in a few days. 
    I laid on the bed with my head in a towel and considered buying heavy-duty trash bags to transport clothes instead of thin kitchen bags. 
    That was easy! Moving preparations were now done for the day.
    After the treatment soaked in, it was time to blow dry. 
    No one was home so I thought it was safe to make this part more fun and blasted the radio, sing-screaming Bad Romance. I made SURE my roommate wasn’t home like last time. Right at the second refrain, I saw my neighbor staring in horror at the open bathroom window. 
    I made the evening’s To Do list:
    • Learn to sing.
    • Google "lack of impulse control."
    Then I started ironing my strands, alarmed at smoky steam of residue burning off. Is that what "sealing" keratin looks like? If not, that Halloween wig might actually get more use than expected.

    Somehow I neglected to realize that the process involved saturating my hair with the product, blow drying it, then flat-ironing it, but not washing it out. It was supposed to stay on my head for TWO DAYS. I cancelled all plans except for moving — movers don't care if their customers look like greased alpacas. WHYYY did I give away my only hat?

    Fast forward 2 days, after moving day when I could finally wash it out & see the results.
    As you can see from this actual “after” photo, it didn’t work, and the product isn’t even sold anymore. The End! Thank you for coming to my beauty blog. 
    [For more funny stories, you can subscribe to my newsletter, which I never sell anything nor spam, it's just my comedy outlet.]
    But the rest of the story is below, since it doesn't really end here... I decided to try a professional salon treatment after all. 
    TL;DR it looked awful on me because my hair is too thin & fine with baby hairs popping up on the top of my head, but go ahead and judge from the pix below. It also didn't last but at this point I'm already convinced: not for me!



    I finally decided to get an actual Brazilian keratin treatment, like, from a salon.

    A friend said "if you're thinking about getting that Brazilian keratin treatment but not sure, well, just flat-iron your hair. If you like the way it looks straightened, then you will like the way it looks with that treatment."

    I wasn't sure, because my hair is both fine AND thin, and I just didn't know how the treatment would come out. I was worried for a reason -- I was right. I think it is too thin (and now flat) and doesn't look that great.

    I'm posting pictures of my hair before the Brazilian treatment and after so if you have similar hair, you can see how it will affect you. I think if my hair was THICK, then hale yes, I woulda rocked it. But now it just looks flat and lifeless framing my face (although granted, before it was so frizzy and dry that it wasn't necessarily great either). The side and back look great though. (Can't have it all I guess!)

    Before Brazilian keratin treatment:

    I took this in the salon just before the brazilian keratin treatment.
    (Sorry about all the smiley faces! Given the private nature of most of the rest of this blog, I don't want my face on it.
    But this is why I can totes be honest about embarrassing stuff.)
    See how my hair is wavy, but not curly?
    That makes the hair follicle nice & thirsty.
    Up close it looks frizzy.

    Side view - you can really see here how it is both fine
    (meaning very thin strands) and thin (meaning not that much of it)*
    I'm not trying to be derogatory, just honestly portray what my hair is like.

    *Because my hair is thinning with age, my dermatologist encouraged me to use Rogaine -- men's 5%, not the women's 2.5% -- to prevent further loss. I buy the generic, minoxodil, because it's SOOO much cheaper. I am pleased to say that it seems to be helping although new hair took like 4 months before I noticed it and is even thinner and finer than my normally thin fine hair. And if I stop using it even for a few days, it falls out so you have to be consistent and apply it morning and night. If your hair is thinning and you're considering options, ask your dr - I'm not a doc and I don't want to give medical advice on this blog.
    After Brazilian keratin treatment:
    It's really flat, you guys. Which looks awesome in the side view,
    as I'll demonstrate below, but not so great for the front view.
    Also note, this photo is not a close-up so you can't see the flaws as easily.

    So, this is the most important one I wanted you to see.
    See how my hair is sticking straight up?
    That's because my hair was all different lengths (broken, etc.)
    It's really accentuated now.
    This is the main reason I'm unhappy with it.
    Also, if you can look in the above photo of my part line and compare it to below, notice how the color is lighter there? I had JUST colored it the day before and it was very dark. Everyone said it is ideal to color first but the keratin treatment lifted some of the color out. I liked the effect everywhere but the part line though. It's subtle, however. I might notice it more than everyone else.

    (I'm not selling this treatment well, am I? haha. Most of my friends love it, but then again they do not have shitty hair like me.)

    Actually I'm glad I got it done even if it doesn't look as awesome as I hoped; I'd been wavering about it for like, a YEAR, unsure if my hair was too thin to make this a good decision for me. Well, now I know.

    Here's the composite before & after view I shared with my family and friends:

    Before & *right* after keratin treatment:
    The side and back view looks better, and from a distance you can't see all the
    hairs popping up on the top of my head. And compared to the texture of my hair before,
    it *is* an improvement, It's just not hair nirvana FRONT view,
    where it matters around my face so I'm not sure it's worth being a regular expense.
    I took this right after leaving the salon.

    After washing it JUST like they said:

    I let this wait longer the time period recommended for Chi Enviro (24 hours is the recommended, I waited an extra 16 hours beyond that), I washed it with special sulfate free shampoo that I bought at the salon and then styled it with special heat-protectants that I also bought at the salon, and look:

    Yuck! It seems 3% better than it was before but still messy-looking. UGH. Never again.
    At least not for me, although most of my friends have had a great experience with this.
    I think if your hair is very badly damaged from coloring, and is fine & thin, you might have similar results.
    If not, I bet it will turn out better for you than me.
    I like that it has some body now, but it definitely isn't sleek and smooth and healthy-looking.

    Left: right after the treatment. Right: the day I was allowed to wash it. It didn't take!
    What I learned about the keratin treatment:

    Okay, so I got the Chi Enviro treatment - my stylist recommended it because my hair was very damaged and colored and this is a gentler form. No formaldehyde. My eyes didn't sting or burn as she was blow-drying it and flat-ironing it to seal it in. Steam came off but it didn't smell unpleasant (although I still didn't want to breathe it in).

    Another lady in the salon was having a regular keratin treatment and her stylist was wearing a face mask but neither my stylist nor I needed to. (I have healthy lungs but I am very sensitive to scents and chemicals so I am pleased it didn't bother me.) I have no idea about the health effects but I would guess they're more substantial for the stylist who is exposed much more often.

    Two other hair stylists that I know personally recommended the "Coppola" keratin treatment but that's not what I got because it's harsher on hair and mine is too damaged. Both stylists emphasized that the results depend on the quality of the keratin treatment used and so brand really does matter. Chi Enviro and Coppola are supposed to both be very good brands.

    How does keratin improve hair? Because it is the same protein hair is made of and when you coat hair with it, it "fills in" the rough spots (like potholes) and smooths the cuticle. The chemical they use is necessary to bind the keratin protein to the hair shaft -- the formaldehyde (or other aldehyde or whatever's in the "gentler" ones) plus heat do the binding.

    Hair cuticle:

    Strand of hair up close - microscopic view.
    When those layers of the cuticle lie flat, the hair is shiny and flexible.
    When the cuticle is rough, the edges stick up like this.
    Keratin smooths it down and "fills in the potholes" in effect.
    Kindof a terrifying photo of split ends.
    I was told not to wash for 24 hours (with Coppola you have to wait 3 days) and cannot use a shampoo with sulfates. She said it should last about 3 months (possibly longer if I don't wash my hair every day).

    It cost me $250 and then I left a 20% tip because I know the stylist for quite a long time, but also I used to work for tips in college and tend towards the generous side. (Standard fare is like a restaurant, 10-20% depending on your satisfaction.) Either way, this isn't cheap, you guys. I'm glad I don't really like it! (Although I might like it better once I can wash it and style it - just got it done yesterday and so there is this tacky film in my hair and it feels awful. Don't make ANY plans where your looks matter until after you can wash it!)

    I have heard of people finding hair stylists on Craigslist or through referrals that will do it for as low as $170 so ask around.

    If you get a Groupon or coupon, look at the Yelp reviews for that salon -- I did a fair amount of research first since I *did* see coupons for hair keratin treatments and a lot of people reported that they experienced heavy upselling; the hair stylists ended up charging more for "better quality" keratin and pressured customers to buy special shampoos, conditioners and other treatments just so they could recoup the costs lost in the discount.

    Maybe it's still worth it -- just do your research.

    After you sleep on your hair before you're allowed to wash and style it, it will look messy when you wake up. No worries, just flat-iron it smooth again. Score: now you're sealing the keratin into your hair again. Be careful not to tuck it behind your ears or pin it up or throw it in a ponytail in that time before you can wash it out; anything you do will fix that shape into it.

    Next time I may try a "glaze" -- a friend told me her stylist will not do the Brazilian keratin treatment because she is convinced it's too harsh for hair, but will do a glaze after coloring and it makes her hair look great. It doesn't straighten it, but it does smooth the hair shaft and make it look shiny. Since keratin didn't work for me, I will see if that is any better. If so, I will post photos here so you can compare the results.

    Thank you for stopping by. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below -- my blog notifies me and I will pop back over and answer them as soon as I can. Best of luck!