Saturday, June 30, 2012

What I really think when I see:

Someone in a headscarf for religious reasons: "I wish I looked that pretty with my hair all covered up." 
Someone elderly: "What was your life like? Are you happy? Do you know that younger folk look to you for your wisdom and experiences? I hope you don't feel defeated. You're still important." 
Someone carrying extra weight: "You are pretty but you probably don't see it. You're not as big as you think you are, though I know society will never have you believe that either. Strive to be healthy but don't hate yourself. Our bodies work hard and deserve kindness." 
Anyone LGBT: "All I want is for you to be happy, happy people are awesome." 
Anyone fighting a physical illness or dysfunction: "That one time I had hip bursitis and sat at my desk thinking OMG I wish I had some water right now" but could not walk to the water fountain? I imagine life is hard for you sometimes but you don't complain. I wish I could tell you your struggle isn't lost on me and I appreciate your efforts." 
To everyone: "I'm not judging you. I want you to feel welcome in our community, everyone deserves to feel belonged."

I really do think these things.

I wrote this post in my head a few days ago when I caught myself staring blankly ahead from behind my steering wheel at a light while someone struggled through the crosswalk. They glanced over, saw me, and stooped over just a bit more in shame and I suddenly saw myself as they saw me: a grim, unsmiling face.

I thought oh no, they have the posture of someone who has been judged and criticized, I hope they realize that's not what I'm doing right now.

We show acceptance, as primates, by baring our teeth into a grin, and I was not smiling. Indeed, I was stony-faced because I was lost in thought.

I'd like to think this happens more we realize -- so many of us lost in our own world. The pressure to conform socially is so strong that any lack of positive feedback is enough to be immediately construed negatively when it may, in fact, be neutral. Wish it were more obvious when we were wrapped up in our heads and not judging.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Exercises for a healthy relationship, by Mira Kirschenbaum

I read this in a book. Reposting here so I can refer back to it later if needed. Exercises to build a healthy relationship by Mira Kirschenbaum:


Say: "I want to know what makes you feel loved. I'm really sorry; I should know it, but I just don't. I need you  to tell me. Just tell me five things that I could do to make you feel loved, whether I've ever done them or not. I'd like to know your language of love. And I'd like to do the same thing for you. How does that sound? That way we'll both know exactly what makes each other feel loved."

Now suppose your partner says "I'd feel loved if you didn't come home from work so tired," and you don't see how it's possible for you to do that, you have to say so. You could say "Help me out here. I'd love to do that for you. I just don't see how. Do you have any suggestions?"

More tips:

  1. Show how much you appreciate your partner. Do and say the things that indicate "I love you and I think you're great."
  2. Touch. Everyday there needs to be hugs, kisses, gentle stroking, holdilng hands. affection.
  3. Say what you need. This keeps you from feeling resentful and deprived.
  4. Listen to the other person. Maybe they're repeating themselves or you don't love what they're saying but listening is the single most loving and affectionate thing you can do.
  5. Be supportive. Everyone is having a hard time. Everyone's life is tough. Everyone needs help & encouragement. That means your partner needs this. And it's not just words. It means making food, rubbing shoulders, taking out trash without being asked, etc.
  6. Spend time together. At least 10 minutes where it's just the two of you, focused on eachother. And you're not talking about problems and chores and responsibilities. You're just there for and with eachother.
  7. Have fun with eachother. Whatever fun is. Something a little fun evfery day, and a lot of fun every week.
  8. Be positive. We all go through our lives vulnerable to frustration and discouragement. So when you're negative, your partner just wants to get away from you. If you say something positive, hopeful, forward-looking every day.
  9. Put yourself in your partner's shoes. Even if it's just a minute, spend some time every day thinking about what it's like to be your partner, living her life, being in a relationship with you. If you think about this, it's got to have an effect.
  10. Be open. Intimacy means being close to each other. How can you do that uless you show what's inside of you?
I'll bet you thought "Sounds great but it's too much for me." Welcome to the club. We're all running on empty these days. We're all struggling with the question "How do you give when you don't feel you have anything to give?" The answer is to focus your energy on whatever gives you the most leverage. Show your partner this list. Ask them which THREE items she feels you've been neglecting the most. It's not magic, but before you know it, it brings the magic back. This is about being thoughtful, caring and consistent.

-Mira Kirschenbaum

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pearls Before Swine

Yo. You have to see the things people write online. It's a complete crackup. Actual headings from Craigslist:
  • "Would you like a secret relationship that will pay your rent?" (I believe this is called "prostitution.")
  • "Married white male seeks cock deprived women."
  • "Your place is not at my side, but at my feet." 
  • "Want to date a super thin 98-110 girl." (Yeah, you and the rest of the planet.)
  • "Looking for a Girl Who Wants to Get Pregnant."
  • "Daddy $eeking Baby."
  • "BUTT WORSHIP. I'm looking for a woman who's into having their butt totally and completely worshipped. I want to be a slave to your butt. I want to smell it, taste it, stare at it and just make out with it." 
  • "Want to Live Together?" (You're not looking for a date, you're looking for a ROOMMATE. Wrong forum.)
  • "Looking for married female pseudo-sociopath. Basically, looking for female version of me."  (Dude, don't be complaining later that you always pick the insane ones. You literally ASKED for it!)
  • "Sensuous Senior seeks wealthy wench. I am seeking a wealthy woman to keep me in the style I want to become accustomed to. If you have a Krogen 44 or better yet a Fleming 55 motor yacht, that would be a plus. I would not turn up my nose at an Aeronca Champ either. In lieu of a photograph, please send a Dun & Bradstreet Report." (This one HAS to be a joke.)
  • "Homeless man looking for a date and place to live. Please only respond if: 1) You are drop dead gorgeous. 2) You make over 100K per year. 3) You like sex." 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The anatomy of a fight

I love this idea that's been going around, introduced to me by another blogger:
"Mon Trésor: That's french for My Treasure. This is a new, old idea. An idea borrowed from a couple of other bloggers I read. They write letters to their future... whatevers... girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, partner. I decided I'd like to do this as well. Kind of weird writing to a nobody, writing to an unknown future, but I figured it would be good to look to the future instead of the past." - Lilly, Path of Lilly's

To my beloved,

Sometimes we will fight. It will fill us both with despair as we no doubt relive painful unravelings of past relationships: no one gets to this age without a history. We won't know how to disagree and feel good about it. Indeed, each of us will feel like we are giving our all and, as is inevitable in a misunderstanding, getting little back. That is the price of scars; having carved neuropeptide canyons into our brains and granting familiarity to frustration, we are eager to avoid that which hurt before.

You will feel lost with my cloying sensitivity and I will be stung by your chill. We will both withdraw into impenetrable shells and I will try to remember what I learned about how to argue but I will forget.

We'll step back across a widening chasm, fold our arms protectively over our hearts and avert our eyes. I will cry. Maybe you will too. We will both decide this is it; "it" for the relationship or "it" for the escalation is unclear, but a cap will be placed nonetheless, choking off the toxic fumes growing in this fiery brew.

Sometimes the best way to put out a fire is to starve it.

We will stop talking then.

Both of us will steep; marinating in the pungent wine of feeling misunderstood.

Then we will take a step onto the path of distraction.

I will forget this then, but it will be the first step to disengaging the ancient, reptilian part of the brain which knows only to fight or flee.

I will grab a book and crack a tiny smile.

You will study. It was an escape then and it is an escape now. Electron transport chains are so predictable; systems function so logically. They make sense, unlike the tempestuous recipes peppered in the cauldron of the heart. There is comfort in knowing and you will drink from fountains of words.

At some point, maybe after sleep, maybe not, we will attempt to look again at the splinter buried in the psyche. It is red and pulsating and tender to the touch. We can't pull it out yet -- it's too deep and thus inaccessible. But we gently worry at it, palpating it softly, privately, yearning for relief.

After some time, we will exchange some awkward, tentative texts.

We decide that the our own egos are less worthy of salvation than each other's.

If we both think this, we will be okay.

You will send me a smiley face.

And I will smile.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

well, that went well. (Post-divorce convo with mom)

Me: so I got divorced today.

Mom: Oh, I thought that was a year ago?

Me: No, it's a year that you have to be separated before divorcing.

Mom: You told you me you were divorced last year.

Me: I could not possibly have, as I was divorced today.


Me: ::facepalm::

Later in the conversation:

Mom: So what happened?

Me: Well, I picked up my girlfriend and we went to the courthouse.

Mom: Wait, why did you bring your girlfriend?

Me: As a witness.

Mom: Why do you need a witness?

Me: It's a state requirement.

Mom: *I* didn't have to do that.

Me: I guess your state didn't require that.

Mom: What did they ask her?

Me: They just ask if she can verify that we've been separated for a year.

Mom: That's STUPID.


Mom: I mean, what does the girlfriend know? They can say anything.

Me: ::facepalm::

Mom: Is it because he was giving you a HARD TIME? OMG I bet it was. You never should have married him!

Me: No, mom, it was fine. EVERYONE has to have a witness.

Mom: I didn't!

Me: That's because. You. Are. In. A. Different. State.


Me: It can be whatever, but it's the law.

Mom: I never heard of anything like this.

Me: I didn't make the law.

Mom: It sounds like you're telling me a flooky story.

Me: ::facepalm::



Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I want to say something deep about my divorce finalizing but nothing is coming.

Over two years have passed and it still stings. I wrote a piece once to pay respects to that ending but it didn't offer me closure. Maybe closure is overrated. What is closure? It isn't resignation, because I have that. Maybe closure is peace, which I do not have. However, resignation is peaceful and I will take what I can get.

When you see me, I will probably look content. I'm very good at being content. This is the life I've got, not necessarily the one I wanted. No one gets what they want, right? I celebrate because I am here.

Oddly, I am mostly happy.

I think a lot about other people. In this lifetime, we fight disease and loss and instability. There is suffering. If there isn't, there will be; life spares no one.

I let myself go there sometimes. I think about others' journeys as a way to honor to their struggle. Sometimes I say this. Most times I don't.

I laugh a lot because life is funny. And I shed tears because there is pain.

Pithy take-aways from this unwelcome transition:
  • Shitty patterns are shitty. Don't develop them. Spend more time laughing than fighting. Read what Dr. Marriage (aka Jonathan Gottman) has to say about relationships. The man's a genius.
  • Ask yourself, when faced with a choice, what kind of memory will this make? Don't lose yourself to an emotion without checking yourself first. I once ran out into traffic to yell at a man who'd just hit my sister's car. I am still ashamed that I did not check my temper in the middle of that busy Manhattan street. Excuses, excuses: emotions were high, I'd had little sleep for days and I'd just visited my mom in the hospital and was worried sick about her health. The man that lost control of his vehicle had just seen a dog get hit by a car a block earlier and wasn't in his right mind either. But assigning blame helped no one. You cannot fix a wrong with an apology. It only appends the wrongdoing.
  • Speak your truth honestly, even if it will hurt. If you do not, the delay will compound the hurt. As soon as you know your truth, you must share it.
  • You're okay because you're you. (I'm still working on this one.)
  • Don't lose yourself. You are not less important.
  • Create and nourish something every day. Art. Photography. A craft. A human connection. An animal bond. A book. You are born to create. If you do not, a part of you will wither and die.
  • It is more important to get enough sleep than you realize. The vessel that holds your soul has a few unyielding requirements. If you don't sleep/eat/exercise well, it will break down just like any other machine. Give your needs top priority. I shouldn't have to remind myself this but indeed it is one of my biggest struggles and occurs nearly every day.
  • Try hard. Even if you can't give your best, keep trying. Your best on your worst days will still be appreciated. Every day is a new day.
  • Befriend yourself. Extend the same kindness and understanding to yourself as you would your best friend.
  • It's all a learning experience. "You do what you know. When you know better, you do better." -Maya Angelou
  • When you're sad or lonely, listen to comedians on YouTube.
  • Know you're not alone.
  • And, oh, wear sunscreen.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

groggy post

This is a month of repair, I suppose. Yesterday I awoke in the recovery room of a hospital with a giant bandage plastered across my torso and strict orders to take it easy and next week the divorce will be finalized, finally, after 2.5 years, with strict orders from myself to take it easy.

I'm too exhausted and dull from pain meds to write much right now.

Everyone is calling & texting today and I do not have the energy to respond.