Sunday, September 28, 2014

Meeting kindred souls

Is it weird to meet the family of an ex-boyfriend and fall in love with them instantly and wish you could live next door and do ceramics classes together? I had that experience today. And no one to share this enthusiasm with, except my dad.

"He has the NICEST family," I gushed. My poor dad didn't know what to say. I can tell he still doesn't fully understand the connection I seem to feel with a boy he never met and that I didn't tell him much about besides "he's good to me" ("I don't know what you mean when you say that but okay") but he's happy when I'm happy. Plus, there are football games on tonight.

Also in news: I'm looking to move and this has me doubly bubbly inside. Cross your fingers!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

We target what we need

Driving around my city's major thoroughfare, I noticed the guy behind me hugging my rear. I wondered, "How can he be comfortable tailgating
that close?" but I didn't feel that irritated.

This is one of my superpowers -- I rarely get irritated or angry in traffic. Impatient, maybe, but then I crank up the music and sing along, resigning to a fate I cannot change. (Unless I am lost, late, or there's a tornado
warning in effect, that is.)

There was a guy in my meditation class, however, that had to consciously work not to feel enraged behind the wheel. It was one of the things he was targeting in class.

People often asked, back when I was taking the class, "What's meditation FOR though? Why do you need it?" Well, it's just a tool for dealing with stress.

There are a million tools -- playing sports, singing, taking a shower, whatever you enjoy -- it's just a way to get really good at redirecting the focus of your attention.

We can't control our feelings or really even our thoughts but we CAN control what we choose to focus our attention on.

You might put on a pair of pants and think "OMG these make me look fat!" but instead of following that thought down the rabbithole of your suckitude, you can refocus. Let the thought pass through, observe it
but don't dive into it. Soon enough, you'll be thinking of something else.

However you are, you are - that guy in my meditation class will
probably always have to work at relaxing while driving. And I'll probably always have to work at being less self-critical. But we target what we need.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

An impromptu lesson in listening

He likes me and I like someone else.

It sounds like the beginning of a Tom Petty song. ("Love hurts, yeah yeah!")

It got me thinking about the expectation management divide. How much of it is me effectively explaining and how much is on the recipient to hear and absorb?

I told him I didn't want to date, that there were too many barriers.

This wasn't to present obstacles to be tackled, it was to set expectations: I do not intend to date. Here's why, if you must know, but the end result is that no dating is going to happen.

Incidentally, my reasons are not thrilling. I'm just acknowledging my own reality (which is a form of self expectation management): I'm hung up on someone else, I'm exhausted after work, I don't have the energy to grow or nurture a relationship, and I want to spend what little free time I do have with a girlfriend going through chemo.

Someday I want a partner again, a shared life, a husband, a home. But nothing has materialized yet that helps me envision this and so that someday continues to exist in the future like a spectacular mirage.
I tried to explain where I was because it seems like people deserve to know why (doesn't understanding mitigate hurt?) but this went differently than I hoped. The conversation wasn't an "oh, that's where you are, okay..." type of 10-4, I got it, good buddy type of reception, but a I want those things too with a side of I know we could do this if we try vibe.

It was wonderful and sweet, and yet I could tell he didn't hear me. And I couldn't hear him.

Timeshare salespeople have an especially tough task at this communication thing.

They're not in it to listen or validate. They're in it to convince. They spend hours presenting why you should buy a timeshare. You reply with reasons why not: "I don't want to spend the money," "I don't like the location," "I don't want to be locked into a certain time frame every year."

Whatever your paltry excuses are, they won't hear of it. Whatever you say, they've got a counter-answer.

"You don't have to spend money right now!" "You can stay anywhere around the world!" "You can go anytime!" They remove all barriers.

Maybe if they take away reasons why not, all that's left is yes.

I could see he hoped I would see all of the wonderful reasons why we should try. I hugged him because I didn't know how else to thank him for showing me that he believed in an "us," but I couldn't take away the ever-present ache of missing Other Guy or any of the other things I felt.

Then I felt guilty because I worried I'd disappointed him; that maybe I had not managed expectations afterall.

Nothing illuminates a scenario like looking up and realizing you've suddenly been tossed onto the other side.

When Other Guy tried to tell me where he was, I didn't understand so I didn't absorb it. What do you mean I'm not "it," what we have is so great in so many ways.

I cycled through the stages of loss, almost.

Grief, denial, anger, bargaining. But it had nothing to do with him. I had the choice of acceptance all along. He transmitted his message; tried to manage my expectations. Now it was up to me to manage my own.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

exploring views

I talk about perspective a lot. I think it's huge. I find I tend to think one way about something but I like to challenge my own worldviews so this means a fair amount of thinking out loud. And some dissonance, when I bang up against ideas that go against my own grain. This is part of human nature, as is the drive for inquiry.

So, one view I have had while single is not to date anyone if I don't think the potential for falling in love exists. I can't fully explain why this felt necessary, except that maybe a part of me was horrified at the idea of hurting anyone because I hurt my ex so badly, or maybe it was a good excuse not to get too close to anyone because it was too difficult to be vulnerable. Or maybe it's a combination of these things.

My justification went like this: you fall in love with people you spend time with. Thus, don't spend time with people if you don't think the potential is there. Like, if there's some overriding reason it wouldn't work, don't even try opening that door.

There were a million reasons to shut possibilities down. Distance or too long of a commute, or someone who seems attached to an ex, or is too into me (I don't want to hurt anyone), or they stay up all hours of the night when I get up at dawn (an issue that did actually exist in a past relationship)... all sorts of reasons.

I don't know how fair it is for me to have such a rigid construct. Maybe it's time to soften the edges a bit.

(Sent from my phone)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

love is a sweet potato, and musings about illness

I sat at the kitchen table flipping through a wig catalog for cancer patients while my girlfriend chatted happily on the phone with her mother-in-law. "Yes, we'll come to see you soon," she chirped, while I sank inside, morose at the idea that my beautiful friend is going to lose her hair in two weeks. She had her first chemo treatment today. I googled it because she didn't give me the details.

Maybe you already know what to expect. I thought I knew, but not like this. Not up close.

I marked each day of her treatment in my calendar even though I'm not taking her to the sessions. I want to countdown to the end.

When I pulled up, she was sitting outside with neighbors around her, looking pale but happy.

I handed her a sweet potato because I tell people I love them with food. "Eat," I said, because I couldn't say what I really thought: I'm scared.

Then one neighbor, wrapping up to leave, hugged her and said, "I'm so relieved, you look great. You're not that sick afterall. You can do things still."

I put my arm protectively around my friend and she leaned into me. I could tell she was tired.

"It gets worse over the course of treatment," I said as gently as I could.

My friend looked at me gratefully, relieved of the burden of educating people about the illness she didn't ask for but now had to fight.

"Ah," said the neighbor, very astute. "So you will need many visits, not just tonight. Okay. I make you food."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


There are a million reasons why it wouldn't work, like him being 2,000 miles away, but the full moon was bright and he was making me laugh my head off, and so we found ourselves playing word games, arms wrapped around each other in the park near the restaurant where we started as old friends catching up.

It was effortless, first the conversation and then the easy hugs. The air was gentle and so was the look in his eyes, and so for an hour, I didn't overthink.

What kind of memory will this make? I usually ask myself before I make a decision. If it seems like a good one, awesome. Green light.

How will we think of this later, I wonder? When our birthdays arrive back-to-back and we haven't seen each other for months? I am sure the memory will be sweet, like our friendship, with the same ease that always existed but will the kiss under the harvest moon linger with the question of what would it be like to date this man or will tonight fade into a happy memory? I could see both, My dear Vin.

Vin, from Gigolos (Showtime show)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I'm only doing this so I can move

I joined a gym today because I want to move. Like, out of my house. And I refuse to move until I thin out all my stuff, including the nice clothes in a box in my closet that I haven't fit into since I felt good in my body back when my parents took off my training wheels.

Funny that the most powerful motivator isn't the idea of possibly being seen naked someday before I sign papers for a nursing home but that I absolutely will not carry one more box than is necessary into my future next place (hopefully not a nursing home).

I made them give me a body fat analysis test because I was feeling especially humorous and I felt like saying the word "fat" 10 times.

"Hi, I saw the sign on the wall for the free body fat analysis test? Is there someone around who could measure my body fat? I wanna see how fat I am. It's free, right? Awesome!"

So that happened.

Then I got onto a bike and disappeared into another world, at least until the lady behind me made noises of desperation, but I couldn't tell if they were "please call an ambulance" noises or "fuck, this is hard" noises, so I did what any humanitarian would do and continued checking Facebook until the back of the room fell silent.

Can someone please ask people not to grunt so loudly in gyms? It's very distracting and gets in the way of the cat videos I'm trying to watch. Also, how is it possible that 45 minutes of sweating and suffering only burns the equivalent of a single potato chip? There are some very concrete reasons to hate the gym, and not just because it's filled with torture devices.

(Sent from my phone)

4am thoughts

He's calm, kind, gentle and inclusive and doesn't seem to mind that I'm almost never available, nor that my heart is elsewhere (I had basically told everyone I couldn't date right now because I was too hung up on the last one [they didn't need to know I wasn't talking to him either -- I just wanted to create a "no dude" space around me for a bit]). And he replied, offering, basically, to be the rebound. He said sometimes people get over others with a little companionship, and now it's 4am and I'm thinking of his emotionally generous nature and I dunno, maybe that would be nice for a bit.

(Sent from my phone)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Yard sale day, in bullet points:

-- Unfurled self from cozy cocoon at dawn to carry boxes of trivial trinkets out to front lawn where they could be pawed over and sneered at by the masses.

-- Philosophically pondered the various traits that make "the masses" annoying since day has morphed into a personality test lab (case studies abound). Settled on self-absorption as the single most defining factor of irritation regardless of the means with which one got there.

-- Obtained ugly tee shirt tan despite sitting under an umbrella.

-- Practiced poker face when someone, armed with $75 of goods (already marked to sell at garage-sale prices, mind you), asked to purchase it ALL for $1. (Oh HALE no.)

-- Finished yard sale, hauled backbreaking load back into host's house.

-- Drove to urgent care clinic before storm hit.

-- Got diagnosed with pinkeye and mild fever.

-- Shot great video of lightning from waiting room.

-- Drove to fancy dinner where 30 loosely-related people strove to be heard over smarmy, unplanned lounge lizard, tried not to smear eyeball on anyone I hugged.

-- Had mild reaction to eye medicine; remembered this happened before:

These are the days!

Friday, September 5, 2014

overheard joke

A white guy entered a public bathroom and when he unzipped to take care of business, noticed that the black guy next to him had the same exact tattoo on his penis: WENDY.
"Oh, do you have a girlfriend named Wendy too??" The white guy asked.

"No," said the black guy. "Mine says 'WELCOME TO JAMAICA AND HAVE A NICE DAY'."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The closest thing my mom & I got to a conversation about sex

Me: So, I dunno, I'm just not really drawn to his company.

My mom: Well, sex isn't the most important part of a relationship.

Me (spitting out drink): SEX?? We haven't even held HANDS. I'm talking about as FRIENDS. I don't really even want to hang out as friends.

My mom (realizing she misread): Oh, okay. Well you can't force those things. But men who are kind and thoughtful make good husbands.

Me: It's too bad it's not possible to make the feelings grow.

(Well maybe you can -- arranged marriages, anyone?)