Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Catch 22 of Saving Room for Love

(Hey, if I'm going to steal part of my title from his song, may as well put him up here)

Everything we do makes us who we are. I mean the jobs we work, our hobbies, the volunteer work we do, the amount of time we leave for socializing. All of these things make up our temperaments and our overall happiness/positivity/depression/ name it.
I was having dinner with some friends last night, just a couple of kids in their twenties about to graduate college, and we were trying to answer the question: when do you start making a little more room for an "other" ? And I don't mean a martian, although the word "spouse" does sound that out-of-this-world to us right now!
The Catch 22 is this though (and i'm already realizing it to a lesser degree with my boyfriend) :
Guy meets girl. Guy thinks girl is fun, upbeat, motivated, intriguing. Guy wants more time with this girl. That is time FROM this girl. Time time time...that thing that is eaten up by all the above listed activities.
I'll start speaking in the first person now. A little bit of time needs to be given up on all of, if not some of, the other things I do to make time for love in my life and suddenly...i'm not the same person my guy asked to spend time with in the first place. I'm a little less happy if i dont see my friends as much, I feel a little bit ashamed of myself if my grades start get the point. And it filters Directly into my relationship with the guy. Making time for the relationship taints the relationship!
The interesting part to me here is's all about the thoughts we let in (or don't let in).
My family friend is 53 years old and has just within the last 3 years gone to cooking school (never went to college) and now has began her own catering company.
I asked her, honestly, "what were you up to in your life before i met you?" and she answered, "honestly, not much." She said she got married when she was twenty, started having her three kids, and just followed her husband where his work took him and loved him as best as she could so he could do his work as best as he could. But she realized at 50 years old she had never made money for herself, or just never really made anything for her self.
"And that never bothered you before?" I asked, and she literally spit out a little bit of her coffee and screwed up her face and exclaimed, "why think like that?"
And it's true. We make a choice on how we see these things. I become a little down because I feel I'm slipping in my ambitions--i look at giving love to someone and giving up some of my personal life as a Failure. Why not look at loving someone, really, completely and dedicatedly loving someone, as a success?
I don't actually know my opinion on any of this. I am far too young to give up the ideal of going for everything I want, having huge career ambitions and all that. But, but....I think the issue of making room in your life for love will be an issue at all ages. And this friend of mine--her tactic of dealing with that issue, was choosing to look at it as, well, a non issue. The power of thought is incredible.
I'm wondering what some of my readers' experiences have been with making room for love? (Sorry to sound like John Legend)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pilates Killed the Romance

I have to write a disclaimer here: this post certainly wont apply to all--I do not know my readers' priorities and could never judge them.

Most fashion/lifestyle magazines today give you reasons and tips to get out of bed and get your butt to a gym. If you want that kind of advice, there is no shortage of it out there. But in my opinion, and as a person who has suffered with and (luckily!) overcome an eating disorder, I think all the rage about physical health these days can be a little, well, mentally unhealthy. So if you even have an inkling that maybe, just maybe, you're fixated on body image more than you'd like to be, this post could give you something to mull over...maybe something to make you feel better about cutting yourself some slack!

* * * * *
“My fat stage.” This is something I have heard almost all women say they went through at one point in their lives. Showing me photo albums, my friends will flip through the section of their freshman year of college, or the months following a break up, and chuckle (with relief), “and this was my fat stage.” My mother never had a fat stage. She is one of those women who complains they are getting chubby and are just, well, not. I remember early in the morning hearing her gasp and shriek as she dipped into the pool. She would swim laps almost daily. I think of myself in the mornings with my most recent boyfriend. These were the moments of highest intimacy. We whispered, although no one was around to be woken up. But quiet speech is just the natural tendency of people in the mornings, so it gives every conversation held at that time the air of a secret. The world does not know you are up yet—it doesn’t know it can ask things of you yet—so you can steal a few extra, precious moments with the person you share a bed with. I realize now that my dad shared the bed with no one early in the mornings. My mom’s side of the bed was empty long before my dad awoke. She was swimming laps. Or running on the beach. Like I said, my mom never had a “fat stage.” She has always looked frail enough to be broken down by a whisper from across the room.
* * * * *
The definition of the word recession is “the act of withdrawing or going back.” My mother had withdrawn her request to be full, and her slender body, along with her empty side of the bed, are testimony to this.
* * * * *
A study done on how ideals of beauty change over time has found that during recessions “older, heavier, taller” Playboy Playmates of the Year are chosen (Pettijohn 1). My parents are divorced now. And my dad has a new girlfriend, measuring at about five foot, seven inches, a size twelve, and sporting a short blonde bob, she is a modern Marilyn Monroe.
"I always liked a little tummy on a woman," my dad says.

Don't be afraid to have a body that's a little unconventional

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Let Me Be Naughty

Not that I think it's the most educational of movies, but, He's Just Not That Into You does, at the very beginning, pose one good, sharp question to be paid attention to and it was something like--why do we lie to our friends? Why do we tell them something is ok, when it's not?
We all have them--those friends that indulge our weaknesses, that coddle us, that never, EVER--god forbid--suggest that we change, that we've been wrong. But this whole See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil thing in friendships can get a little, well, out of control...

Something I'm beginning to realize about friends that fit into the above category, is that they give these false, silly condolences in order to get them in return. It's the bonding link between us. They tell me everything I do is just fine and, before I know it, I'm responding to a question like this--

"i mean I didnt want to hurt him--I didn't want to CHEAT on him--I just got caught up in the moment... Is that so bad?"

by answering like this--

"Nooooo! It's not, its know, we're young. We'll work out these kinks."

Did i really answer like that? Really? Of course I did. Because next time I ask something like

"And I mean,he didn't visit me in the hospital so i don't think i should visit him. Is that so bad?"

I can calmly and contently expect the answer--
"Nooooo! it's not, its um...."

If I tell someone what they want to hear, they'll do the same for me. And so (and I'm not proud of this) i've done that quite a bit. Because...
If I tell it to someone like it is, they can do the same in return to me. They can look me square in the eye and say, "I'm sorry, but that's not right." And that's scary! That implies some change ON MY PART has to take place!

But I am beginning to realize I leave these rendevouzs in which I and a friend exchange weak
condolences feeling, well, depressed. I don't feel good even though this friend tells me I'm good. Because I know when things have gotta change within myself. No one can convince me otherwise.
I want friends that call me on my nonsense. I want friends that demand change from me, tell me when I'm wrong--I want friends that will only want me around when I'm trying my damned hardest and when I'm not making any excuses.
It will hurt at first--it will form a temporary bruise to have someone correct me--but it will feel infinitely better with time.
I'm not suggesting you rid yourself of every friend that shoves a box of bon-bons in your lap and says "he was just a moron" everytime a guy dumps you and lets you sit and feel helpless over it. Some really do wish they could suggest some changes you make so that this doesnt happen again...

Some of these friends might respond positively to a little realistic turn around in your relationship. They may be partially waiting for you to throw the bon-bons on the floor, jump off the couch and ask "but was he just a moron? Or were there ways in which perhaps I, yes Me, MYSELF, was a moron, too?"
We have to be able to consider when we've been morons. And the best friends are the ones that will tell us it even when we don't want to hear it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Can we write up Contracts for Love?

I'm a cautious person when it comes to relationships. Slow and steady wins the race, right? ...
You should be concerned when I refer to love as a race! Or as anything so unintimate and with such clear cut rules.
That is the problem. I have been trying to write rules. Trying to write my relationships into stories--in stories, the characters are always solid, predictable, unchanging, serve a purpose. I mean look at Anna Karenina for godsake. She changed too much for the world of stories, that she had to off herself! But that's on paper, and this is real life. Within one real, living, breathing warm human being are millions of stories, millions of purposes!
I develop love slowly. I seem to tally up a person's characteristics. Today, he bought a box of chocolate from kids outside the grocery story raising funds for efforts in Haiti. This act=compassionate. Check mark!
It's about safety, of course. For each thing I observe, I can continue to draw the solid outline of the person I've been trying to draw.

But then, same person who buys the chocolate, loses their temper one day and knocks all the boxes of chocolate off the table on his next grocery trip.

And then my drawing gets messed up and it doesnt look so great anymore

And then I start acting strange and distant--trying to figure out who this new person is. This doesn't fit into the picture I was drawing at all! Well now I have to re evaluate!
......obviously, that's not really how it works. People are fluid, emotional, ever-changing beings. One diversion from their general character here or there doesn't mean they have transformed, it just means they are a person! A person who gets angry, gets anxiety, gets hyper, gets all of these things at some point or another.
And you know what--if a person is this wonderful, loving, patient being 90% of the time, that 10% they slip up should make us love them more--give them more credit. Because those slip ups show that when they are the greatest version of themselves, that it's an effort. It is a choice they make--they are aware of the other ways they could be, but they Choose to be as good as they can, most of the time ;) They are willing to do the work--and we all know, it is work to be a decent person. Sometimes, it really is.

There is no guarantee that a person will be at the best version of himself every second of every day.
And really, if i wrote up a contract asking "do you agree to the terms listed above to behave like A, B, and C from here on out..." It would be a lie. I would never be able to enjoy the person again, if I never knew when they were acting from their heart---or from the terms of the contract.

I gotta give the guy in my life credit for recently pointing this out about me--pointing out my spasticness in response to a little change. I guess I wasn't the only one paying close attention, huh? But he is a little older and has probably already learned that you need to use more flexible materials in creating his portraits of people.

I'm going to start creating my outlines with playdough--moldable, colorful, and mushy. Just like people.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Today, Men Apologize!

My posts wont always be novel-length. Sometimes they will be short stories that were hard to resist!
My roommate is from Argentina. We were talking about how we will have to marry men who come home and have stories to tell--little things they have noticed throughout the day. Something a cashier said at the grocery store, things like that.
"Not everyone notices those stories though."
"What makes them notice?" I asked.
"I dont know" my roommate answered, "but, i know in my house, there was no separation of the generations. Little kids and adults sat at the same table and if a kid had something to say, the adults listened, and moved the conversation with the kid's comment in mind."
She said her thirteen year old brother sits with the adults at dinner parties and then, at one dinner, a family friend in his fifties said, "when you get home, hit your wife--you don't know what she did, but she does."
My roommate's thirteen year old brother said, "I heard, that when you get home, you
re supposed to apologize to your wife. You don't know what you did, but you did something wrong."

Right there, a thirteen year old boy, showed how far we have come. He lives in a world where, as far as he knows, men say things like that. Thirteen years old and he's had to learn how to keep up with the middle-aged, embittered folks like that man with the reverse story. He will be a little noticer of little stories his whole life, and make a great husband :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taking Vitamins

Do you ever get frustrated with how difficult it is to upkeep yourself? I mean with all the things we take--vitamins and fish oils and some tiny white pills i take three times a day to make sure some hormone from some part of me makes it to another part and I honestly can't even remember what all these little pills are for anymore. We are so far from being the primal, sleeping, running, eating beings that we once were who just did all of those things whenever the hell they felt like it. But it's simply not ok for us to pass out in our cubicles. So we let our chiropractor pop this or push that, and we take all these things to alter ourselves--we make our bodies fit our schedules.
I went to a nuerologist at the beginning of the summer and he asked me a series of questions:
*On a scale of 1 to 10, how depressed are you---- 7.
*How many hours of sleep do you get per night?---- 5, maybe 6
*Are you tired during the day----what the hell do you---sorry, you're a nice guy. Ya, i'd say i'm more tired than i'd like to be.
*On a scale from 1 to 10, how energetic do you feel during the day?----can't the answer to this question be deduced from the last??

Ok, he sold me $200 worth of vitamins and told me to come back bi-monthly for chiropractic adjustments.
Sweet man, really, he is. And I could tell he felt sorry for me and for all the other people coming in there to reboot every couple weeks--like computers that have been over used, haven't been shut down properly or have downloaded too much. And we can't escape it. We can't escape it! When I get sleepy I don't want to take a vitamin, damnit. I want to go to sleep! It's like there are two versions of myself living parallel. One of them is the natural, primal version who wants to lie down when she is tired, eat when she is hungry, allow a little depression sometimes--sleep it out, go for a walk, do something that makes her happy. The other part has a vitamin or a pill to stifle all those other natural inclinations. Sometimes I just want to run around naked on a deserted island and do what i feel!

I had to find a saner, more socially acceptable substitution for that fantasy towards the end of last summer. My friend Mary and i decided a road trip would suffice. My profile picture is a picture of me taking the last vitamin I would take for two weeks. I kind of look like i'm Neo in the matrix and have just chosen to take the red pill and see how far the rabbit hole goes.