Monday, December 31, 2007

Eat more bacon

I am not, on the whole, a big maker of New Year's resolutions.

Certainly I think everyone has general self-improvement in mind at the end of the year. You say goodbye to the old year, with all its ups and downs. You might be sad or nostalgic; you might be ready to have it the fuck over with. In any case, you're saying hello to a new year and a fresh start. All kinds of possibilities!

Obviously, it's arbitrary. You could decide that the Ides of April is the day you start anew each year. But on New Year's Eve you're taking a huge leap with the rest of the Gregorian calendar-following world.

So earlier today a friend and I were talking about resolutions. And we came up with a variety of our own.

At his suggestion, we started with "eat more bacon."The way he sees it, that one is a win-win. You eat more bacon, yum, you've eaten more bacon. And if you eat less bacon, well, you see where this is going.

After an exhausting brainstorming session, here's what we came up with:
  • Eat more bacon
  • Floss less
  • Use more profanity
  • Jump to conclusions faster
  • Have less patience
  • Believe stereotypes
  • Drink more liquor
  • Bathe less frequently
  • Watch more porn
  • Overstep bounds
  • See the glass as half empty
  • Always have the last word
  • Use more gas
  • Shirk responsibility
I might add more. That's all I've got at the moment, though. Clearly 2008 is going to be a busy year.

I wish all of you the best. I hope 2008 is fantastic for you. Happy New Year and big hugs to all!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The 26

I wound up in a conversation about the concept of The One recently. Someone brought it up and I laughed. With the side of my lip curled. It was maybe more of a sneer.

The One? Please.

Because Jaded? Is not my God-given middle name. I've worked hard for it.

I used to believe in The One. Truly I did.

But then when you spend a year with The One and it doesn't work out, you realize he wasn't actually The One. You just really really (really) wanted to be in love. You were young. You learned later he was gay.

The One, if you are a straight woman, is never going to be a gay man.

And then years go by and you meet another The One, and you figure that he is it, because it's so different than when you were 23. And then he's not it.

And then you meet The Really One. And you think, "Wow! People are right when they say you just know!" Even though for years you've scoffed at people who say, "When I met my husband I just knew."

But you think you know. Wow! You know! This must be it!

Because you know, or at any rate, at some point you just knew, you spend a number of years trying to make each other fit perfectly. Because you almost do, except for a couple things. Which is why you keep trying until you pretty much grind it into the ground.

And so that, too, ends. One? None.

And then you decide that honestly, The One is like unicorns, or world peace, or being able to eat everything you want and never exercising and fitting into size four jeans.

So the woman who was talking about The One said she'd read an article explaining that there isn't only one One for everyone. In fact, there are 26 Ones.

I don't know how they came up with this number. But she said it with a great deal of authority. And I quite like the idea.

"The thing is," she continued, "these 26 are sprinkled throughout the world. You can't count on them all being in your own country."

So I suppose that if one of yours lives in Mogadishu and you don't have a passport, well, you're down to 25. Which would be a good argument for getting out into the world.

It makes it seem like love could be lurking around every corner, doesn't it?

This led me, as one might imagine, to consider a One Hunt. And then immediately I leaped to visions of the fabulous safari-like outfits one might wear on the One Hunt. You could be all Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen, minus the boat and leeches and filth.

Ohh, there could be some fabulous outfits. And I love the idea of big glam sunglasses.

But off of the frivolous topic of outfits and back to the meat of the One Hunt. The more data-oriented among us might easily be able to design a survey. You could approach The One Hunt in a rather scientific fashion.

You know, now that I'm thinking about it, I might just work on survey questions for fun.

It would be better than online dating, in that you're coming up with all your own "this is what I need in my One" questions. Plus you'd only administer it to people you already found attractive in person, so you'd already know if you liked their smile or their mannerisms or if they had hygiene issues or wore terrible shoes or were rude to those around them.

For example.

Except for the fact that people might think you were batshit crazy if, shortly after meeting them, you handed them a questionnaire, it could be an expedient way to approach the finding of True Love: One of My 26.

You could say, "I'm just trying to save us both time and anguish." Or something of the sort.

Don't you think?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Performing one's ablutions

I took a long, hot bath at my parents' house yesterday afternoon. I had sore muscles from working out, so I dumped in some Epsom salts and set myself up with a book I got for Christmas - The Late Bloomer's Revolution - an easy and delightful read.

I tend to think that you can divide people into two broad categories - bath people and shower people. I mean, the people in the world who have access to both baths and showers and have the choice.

I would characterize myself as a shower person. I rarely have the patience for baths. I am never one to be all, I'm going to light a candle and lounge in hot water till my fingers and toes prune up and fall off. Generally speaking, I move fast, and am rarely in the mood to just sit.

Plus I detest breathing all that warm, moist air.

There's something about the really hot, humid air that throws me into a panic. I realized yesterday that it's not just the sitting still that I generally dislike about baths. It's also the steamy air. It's all fine fine fine, and then all of a sudden I just can't take it anymore.

It's like, you know when you're kissing someone, or maybe even just lying face to face with them? And you are breathing their breath? For an extended period of time?

Some people have a very high tolerance for the breathing of someone else's warm breath. Me, I hate it. I can do it for a bit, but when I stop being able to take it, that's that.

I'll be fine and all happy and kissy, and then suddenly will be all too close! too close! too warm! holy crap! can't breathe! And if I have to take one more warm, moist breath I am going to Lose! My! Shit!

At which point I have a visceral reaction, and physically push back. So as not to look like a complete freak, I tend to leap up and say I'm getting some water or I have to pee or something. Much better to let the person think that you have sudden thirst or a nascent urinary tract issue than that the sharing of warm breath makes you twitch violently.

There is something about the thickness of the air, the heat, the moisture that just stresses me out. Yesterday I was soaking in the tub, feeling my muscles relax with the Epsom salts, giggling at moments with the book.

And then suddenly, without provocation, the air was overwhelming. I went from la la la warm soak in a relaxing tub to naked whirling dervish woman, flinging the book, splashing water about the room, lunging to throw the window wide open.

It's not a big bathroom, so it's not like I had to go very far. But I yanked at the window and felt the rush of cold air swirl in, and panted against the screen. I felt very thankful to have gotten there in the nick of time.

WTF? I don't know.

All this to say, I really am more of a shower person.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Door of love

I have today off, which delights me immensely. I came out to my parents' house yesterday, had dinner with them, hung out a bit by the fire, and then Betty got my bed all ready and I tucked myself in.

It's funny, coming home for Christmas. I don't live that far away, and I see my parents most weekends. I even spend the night here sometimes.

But home for Christmas means a little more tucking in, a little more spoiling. A little more do you know how much I love you?

I got up early this morning and wandered out in my PJs - Betty calls them prison pajamas, because they are black and white striped - and picked up the papers from the driveway. I know the neighbors in my parents' suburban neighborhood. It's an old neighborhood; I believe the houses were built in the post-war 40's. Most of the houses are still very similar and quite modest, although here and there you see one being replaced by a McMansion.

But anyway, the houses are close enough together that you know and see your neighbors. And they've seen me mince out the door in purple fuzzy slippers before, so prison pajamas faze nobody.

But that's a tangent. I came back in the warm house, chilly, damp plastic-covered papers in hand. When you walk into the kitchen, straight ahead of you is the door to the garage. Betty covered the entire door in cork board some years ago. And so what you see is a door of love.

It's covered, top to almost bottom in photos. There are myriad pictures: of family; of my brother and his wife and son; of me holding our old dog Gloria; of photos sent by family friends - proud grandparents of new babies just born; of friends on their travels, or who posed for photos while passing through town. There are photos of friends who have since passed away.

You want to know who we love? We wear it on our door.

There are some forever photos on there - Gloria and I, for example, are there to stay. If I'd know it at the time, I'd have put on makeup before the photo. But anyway.

There are also seasonal ones that get rotated and updated.

We have a family friend who, in Swedish tradition, always had her two blonde daughters pose with candle wreaths on their heads for the Christmas card. We got a Christmas photo of these two beautiful girls in the same pose, year after year. And then they hit high school and one Christmas missive announced the last year they were willing to pose in this manner. They were on our door, candles on head, for the very last time.

My brother and I have never met either of them, but my brother said he was sorry about the last of the cards. As he put it, "I feel like I've grown up with them. I'm going to miss them."

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you peace, happiness, safety, and people you love and people who love you nearby. I suppose I wish that for you and for us always, no matter what day it is.

Big hugs to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Truth of mood

Back when we were in grad school, my friend Jane said I was very “truth of mood.” She said this factually, not critically, in the same way that one might remark that someone has on a bright red sweater, or that it’s chilly out.

When I asked what she meant, she said the following. That I mean what I say, absolutely and completely, when I’m saying it. It might contrast starkly with my opinion of the same thing tomorrow, and I will mean what I say tomorrow just as fervently. In the moment, in the mood, it's absolutely true.

I cannot even remember what provoked the observation. Since we were in school, it was probably some diatribe on the loathsomeness of theoretical syntax, when the day before I’d thought it was the most interesting thing ever. Who knows?

She’d just read E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, which is where she was introduced to the phrase and the concept. I’d read the book years prior, but hadn’t been struck by that particular idea.

Once she pointed it out, however, I realized she was exactly right. I think I'd always been like this, and truthfully, even now, I can't really imagine being entirely otherwise. Life shifts constantly. How can you not shift along with it?

This isn’t something I’ve thought about in years. But I got a comment on a recent post, saying it contrasted starkly with a prior post – so starkly that it could’ve been written by a different person. And it didn’t surprise me. What it did was this: it got me thinking that I’m sure I contradict myself all over the place. It’s just that here there’s a written, open record of it.

I’ve become a more consistent person in the years since Jane pointed that out. I used to be significantly more capricious, more impetuous, more up and down. I know it was hard for people close to me, sometimes, particularly the very literal ones, or the ones that were close enough to be very affected by my mood or mind-changing.

For those who didn’t have distance or the temperament to be like, “OK, so today is an orange day, and tomorrow will be all about fuchsia” – and still remain on an even keel, or even appreciate the variety, well, I was a challenge.

There have been people who have seen it as part of my charm, as Jane did. And people who got irritated by my inconsistencies. The latter were mainly men. Who wanted me to do things like commit firmly, two weeks in advance, to going out on Friday, when, who knows two Fridays in advance if you’re going to feel like it that night? “Potentially,” was my response to most ahead of time plans. And for the planny among us, that’s irritating.

But as I said, I’m more consistent, better at planning in advance, and less contradictory with my feelings, at least with regard to other people. But LG is me, downloading, brain and heart to keyboard. And clearly internally, I am still very truth of mood.

Now I think it’s probably more about different pieces of personality coming out when faced with different situations and ideas. Especially when you’re talking about emotion, in which case triggers are everything.

Faced with one trigger or another, you’re going to react differently, even if you’re talking about the same thing. One situation will evoke fear, while another pulls up anger or sorrow. Or make you laugh. Whatever it is, it won't be the exact same on any given day. I don't think.

I believe we’re all comprised of so many layers of hope, scars, love, loss, wishes, gifts, etc. And woven in with those are fragments of reaction to other people – their kindness, unkindness, dreams and rejections – basically any interaction we’ve ever had with anyone who provoked any strong emotion.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Check out the rose and don't get all rhyme-time on me

I have been listening to Ingrid Michaelson lately. Or rather, I bought her album, listened to it a few times, and then kind of wanted to kick her in the shins.

Which I realize is an unreasonable reaction.

Because sweet Ingrid, she has a delightful voice. It feels like sitting under a tree, looking down in your lap and enjoying the pattern made by sunshine trickling through lush green leaves. Or the cool hand of your mother on your forehead when you are hot and grumpy. It's light and happy and comfortable and soothing.

But then you start listening to her lyrics, and she's all rhyme-time-y. And it bugs.

I mean, yes, I get that things like poems and songs tend to rhyme. That's part of the deal. I know it.

But hers are just too simple and straightforward for me.

And me, I am not someone who is looking for a great deal of depth in my music. Or in my art or literature, for that matter. I have been accused (wrongly, I think, but who knows) of liking media rather than art. Because I like things pretty and I like them accessible.

With one exception, I don't want my guts wrenched out when watching a film. I like happy endings, no matter how implausible. I like the Impressionists. Their colors always make you feel good. Life is often heavy. I want my distractions light.

I think I realized this in high school French. We were studying the poetry of Pierre de Ronsard, a 16th century French poet, who has some beautiful poetry.

One of the things I liked best about him, though, was that he was fairly transparent. He wrote a variety of sonnets for Hélène de Surgères. She rejected him, and thus you have a sonnet that begins, "Quand vous serez bien vieille..."

He goes on to describe her, old and alone, at her spinning wheel in front of the fire. She'll be thinking back on how crazy he was about her when she was young and beautiful. And there she'll sit, full of regrets, in her old and alone and did he mention old? and alone?- ness. When she could've had him.

There he was, petty and and angry. And playing on her fears. How can you not find this kind of thing compelling? Here he is, all 16th century important poet and petty, petty man.

As will happen, one of his poems has stayed with me. You'd think it would be more useful for me to be able to recite every president of the US, or other historical facts that I've learned and are long gone.

But no. I let so many facts trickle from my brain, and hold on to the random things that grab me in some particular way and lodge themselves for good. I've realized they have to elicit some emotion, even if it's a giggle of amusement. The dry ones, no matter how important? Like dates, I should just say goodbye as soon as I say hello.

This poem, it's got all this lovely nature imagery. It feels good, both swirling around in your head and aloud. If you took French, you probably learned it yourself somewhere along the way. It begins, "Comme on voit sur la branche au mois de Mai la rose..."

In short, the poem is about this beautiful woman who died young. Jealous nature nipped her in the bud, as it were.

But the reason I remember this poem, I suspect, has less to do with the beauty of the imagery or the fact that for a while I was rather head over heels for French poetry.

No. I think it's because, when asked to talk about this poem, my friend Kris - the one who currently lives in Paris - said something like, "Well, in the beginning he's like, 'Hey babe! Check out the rose!'"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Vile with a side of grits

One of the most striking things I've realized this year, and am reminded of over and over, is that everything dissipates with time.

I have written before about the Harpy I worked for some years ago. I used to have so many stories about her. I used to loathe her with every fiber of my being.

And now I'm only reminded of her once in a while. But I don't feel her anymore, even when I think of her, which is seldom. I know if I bumped into her on the street I'd have that horrible, visceral, grab-your-children and run for the hills reaction. But thankfully, that hasn't happened in ages.

Betty, however, remembers little things about her vividly. And so today she said, "Don't you think it's time for the terrible Christmas story? The one with the grits?"

So the Harpy, she is a Southern Woman. She's very proud of being a Southern Woman. Even though she's really from up north in the first place.

She came to the office the second and last Christmas I worked there with gift bags for everyone. It was a small office - I think there were 10 or 12 of us. She went to offices one by one to deliver her gifts.

My friend Stacy and I were standing in the hallway as she was on her Christmas delivery mission. She handed me a bag containing a pound of grits and a Christmas tree potholder. Odd, but it's the thought that counts, right?

Each bag, it turned out, contained the exact same thing: a pound of grits and a Christmas tree potholder.

But before she handed Stacy her bag, she said, "And I just found out yesterday that you're Jewish. So maybe you can give the potholder to someone you know who celebrates Christmas."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Violet Beauregarde in a green M&M sort of way

OK, this has nothing to do with any of the rest of it except that I have been eating a lot of M&Ms. Like, a lot lot.

And sometimes you get a deformed one. And when it's in a Christmas M&M package, odds are two in three that it will be a green one. And if it's an oblong green one, odds are three in three that I will feel compelled to stick it in my nostril so that it looks like a big, green booger sticking out.

Yes, even in the office. Because I am grown up like that.

But truthfully? I have never seen Tej laugh so hard.

I really wanted to walk down the hall like nothing was awry. Because you can just imagine people weighing whether they should tell you to wipe the enormous, shocking green booger off your face or not. And I'd just chat with them like everything was normal.

But then I pictured running into our president, and then I'd have to snarf it up my nose really quickly and it would probably shoot straight to my brain. And who wants to die of deformed M&M to the brain?

But anyway, the real point is as follows. When I'm stressed I eat. And eat. And I have been stressed.

And I have been eating alarming quantities of M&Ms. The plain ones. Because if they were peanut I'd eat more of them. The salt-sweet thing, you know.

So I had this vision of being something like Violet Beauregard - the one in the chocolate factory who snatches the experimental three-course dinner piece of gum and turns into a big blueberry balloon.

I envision myself rolling down the hall, an enormous green, candy coated ball, with a large M on my chest.

And does this stop the hand-to-mouth M&M action? No, my friends, it does not.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hey, you're pretty! What's your cycle?

We're all influenced by those around us to some large or small extent. You spend enough time around people you like and eventually you'll start repeating some of their opinions. Or pick up their mannerisms. Or something.

To what degree this happens just depends on your personality, I think.

At the most extreme, you'll see someone start dating a new person or hanging out with a new best friend, and suddenly adopt all of that new person's preferences, thoughts, etc. And if you see this happen more than once, it gives you the idea that maybe they didn't have such a strong sense of self to begin with.

Me, I'm fine with my opinions, my likes and dislikes, my random sense of humor. Of course my friends rub off on me, but I choose people whose brains and character I like in the first place.

The thing I have no control over, and this drives me crazy, is my body.

It turns out that my body is remarkably susceptible to the influence of others. If you are a woman who has ever lived with a group of women, I'm going to guess that you will know what I'm talking about.

So while this maybe TMI to some, it's no secret in the wide world that women menstruate. And you have your own rather regular cycle, which varies by the woman, typically somewhere between 21 and 28 days. It's something over which, if you're not on the pill, you have no control. Your body does what it needs to do on its own time.

And so my body and I were living along, doing our thing, when I started working at my current office a couple years ago. And all of a sudden, out of the blue and at completely inappropriate times, I started having crazy PMS. I didn't think it was, because it was a week or so early. And then the next month it was two weeks early.

Weird things started happening. For example, for half of each month - and this lasted a good six months - I had cleavage. Don't think I didn't take advantage of this when I went out.

Within several months my body had completely reset itself. To the hormonal clocks of two of my colleagues. They thought it was hilarious.

Time went by and that stopped happening, and I think slowly slowly my body got back on my own schedule. Relief. I felt like the master of my own ovarian destiny again.

And then we moved offices. And the craziness started over.

But this time I knew where to look. I realized you have to start with your neighbors. So I stomped into Jenny's cube. And sure enough, I'd found the culprit.

I was all kinds of incensed. I was all "What, are you sprinkling estrogen over the wall?" And obviously, there's nothing I can do about it.

I was talking about it with Tej and Jenny - two of the people whose hormones clearly overpower mine. They think it's funny. But they have the luxury of thinking that; it's not their hormonal lives that are randomly disrupted.

It's like my ovaries are all, "Hey! You're pretty! I want to ovulate just like you."

Seriously. It turns out that I'm a period slut.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The letyougoness

I have said this before in a variety of ways. I've lived with the letyougoness my entire life.

The letyougoness is second nature.

I grew up moving and moving and letting go and letting go. We would be best friends and then at the end of the year you'd move or I would. And we'd be sad to say goodbye and there would be promises and tears and then we'd both spin off our respective directions into the wide world.

I could love you and I could let go of you. That was just how it went. There was always a lot of Hi! Bye! in my life. Always.

So the letyougoness has always been there. It's just worked in different ways in different circumstances.

In my 20s, I was very insecure, and I needed to constantly be told nice things about myself. And so men - boyfriends, really - were critical. This, as you may imagine, made me a true and utter delight of a girlfriend. I can look back in the stark light of retrospect and say it was a really good thing I was pretty. Because I was a serious pain in the ass. Maude will tell you. She was there through a lot of these. So anyway.

So the letyougoness meant that I wouldn't get so emotionally attached, and then it would really kick in when I got bored dating someone.

Because the thing is, it took me until my 30s to realize that men were whole, entire people. You know, people with whom you could have interactions on many levels. They weren't just for compliments and dating.

I'd love to say that I'm exaggerating, that I was not that limited in my scope. But I was.

During that period of my life the letyougoness was just sort of, I don't know, like the pair of jeans in the back of your closet that you'd eventually reach for when you ran out of clean ones. These guys would adore me and adore me - because what would be the point of dating someone for the adoration if they didn't? And I'd like them back enough, although mostly what I'd like was that they liked me. And gave me compliments and did nice things for me. And made me feel, albeit temporarily, better about myself.

And then, at the 3-6 month point - the point where, if you have nothing but one-directional adoration in common, you have nothing much to say to each other. And at that point the letyougoness would suffocate me in the same way as a tight shirt on a hot, sweaty day.

And all of a sudden it would be time. I'd feel choked. Gotta letyougo. Thanks ever so! Bye!

But now the letyougoness has probably become a defense mechanism more than anything. In case. Because, well, who knows? I can like you. I can love you. And even so? It will always be fine. It'll be OK if it doesn't work out. I can always letyougo.

Getting past the letyougoness? Letting go of the letyougoness? Ooh, I don't know. It's a safety blanket, you know? Even if it's constructed with all the flexibility and softness of, well, I'm not sure exactly. But maybe along the lines of chain link fence.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Might feel good to you

I was once on a DC bus with a really cranky bus driver. It was raining, and there were too many people on the bus.

He kindly let a group of us on even though the bus was already packed. I think maybe he just felt sorry for us, standing like a pack of drowned rats in the deluge.

So some of the people were standing in front of that white line by the driver that you're not supposed to stand in front of. But there was nowhere else to be. Me, I was practically vaulted into his lap every time the bus turned.

He was irritated with all of us. But there wasn't anything to be done except let people off at the next stop and not let new people on. People kept pushing and shoving. And cramming people towards the front. Where the driver was.

You know how gross public transportation is when it's raining. Even if it's cold outside, you all get stuck together and you start to sweat. And so, mashed up against the hoi polloi, you just stand there, suffocating in the disgusting crush of steaming, soggy, dark winter garments.

Someone's umbrella invariably drips on your foot. Or gets shoved against some part of you. And me, I am not so tall. And so likelihood is high that I will wind up with my nose in someone's armpit.

The windows fog up. Everything is hot and humid and annoying. You can barely move and all the air you breathe has either been exhaled by someone else or is steaming off their coats.

It's like getting knitted into a wet wool forest. It's hard to squeeze your way out. It's easy to become a hater.

And so, at the next stop, before he opened the doors, the bus driver bellowed, "And all of y'all who like to get out the front doors? Why don't you try exiting through the back door for a change? Might feel good to you."

I giggled. Like the crazy lady on the bus. Might feel good to you! Hee hee!

And I think this, sometimes. When I'm suggesting something. Or silently suggesting that someone do something fairly unlikely.

It is a line I would love to use. Like, for example, on this one woman who is a perpetual and utter pill.

I'd love to say, "Why don't you try saying something positive in a meeting today? Just this once, for a change? Might feel good to you."

Friday, December 07, 2007

I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then

Today I feel very Alice.

I didn't write yesterday, which is unusual for me. The fact is that at the moment I don't know what I'm doing here.

This is the first time that I've really sat down and wondered. Because it's been all, ooh, the funniest thing happened, and I want to write it down! Or I'm fret fret fretting and I want to get it out. Or I just want a place to force myself to structure and improve the writing as warm up for writing a book.

But the fact is that I'm not writing elsewhere lately, except in my job. And I'm questioning what I'm doing with all these very personal details out in cyberspace - something I've not questioned before.

Some people start blogs to keep their friends updated. But really, most of my friends who read LG didn't know about it till months and months after I began. And it's not like I'm on a round-the-world journey. Nobody actually needs to be kept abreast of any breaking news. What am I doing here? What do I want from this?

I don't know anymore.

Except for random bits here and there, LG is always intensely personal. It's like my friend Maude, who is a painter, will often paint pictures of her own body parts. Not always flattering - sometimes a view of her tummy with creases, for example. But she says she always has access to her own self. Still life can get boring. People are what interest her. And she's right there, even when nobody else is.

And I suppose that's the case with me. People are what interest me, and I know my own self best. I'm what I'm trying to sort out, and LG has been a really, really good place for it.

But right now, today, I'm not sure what I'm doing here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I don't think guys do this

Recently I was walking down the street with a very close friend of mine and her boyfriend.

And I said, "Hey! You know who I passed on the street today?"


"You remember that first date I had with that one guy?"

She replied, "Yes." At the same time as her boyfriend said, "Right, that one."

Which is valid. Considering the myriad.

But she knew exactly who I was talking about. He was incredulous.

"Anyway, so you know how I was walking home and then that cute guy started talking to me on a corner standing in the rain waiting for the light to change? And we walked part of the way home together?"



Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Seashells, sea glass, and skimming stones. How's that for alliteration?

I was recently asked the following. What had I learned from past relationships, or about myself over the years, that has made me a better person to be in a relationship with?

It's a good question, isn't it?

After briefly dipping into my bucket of lessons, much as one might gently sort through shells collected on the shore, I chose two. I hastily dusted the sand off, but as I held them in my hand, I realized they were more like those pieces of green sea glass - pounded smooth but cloudy.

It was a face-to-face conversation, and I had not much time to ponder, so these were offered in haste.

One was this: I have learned to bite my tongue. That you cannot take anything back, and you cannot undo it. That sorry doesn't erase anything. So you should choose your words very carefully in anger and in hurt.

And the other, which just finally, finally sunk in, is that not everything is about me. I don't mean this as it might sound - that the relationship should revolve around me and my needs and my wants. But rather, sometimes things that I take personally have nothing to do with me.

For example, sometimes the other person's bad mood is just a bad mood that he wants to be left alone to deal with. I didn't cause it and I can't fix it. And sometimes, if someone backs away or rejects you, it's because of the place he's in - not that I'm an inadequate person.

That's the one it's taken me so damn long to get. Sometimes it's about what's going on with him, and not what's wrong with me. And you have to just let it go.

He asked how these lessons learned have been working out for me.

And I said honestly, I don't know yet. They're brand new. I'm just trying them out.

Truthfully, though, upon further reflection, I realized that the most important thing I've learned is this. You should never, ever take love for granted. And you should not be profligate with one drop of it.

Don't play the prove you love me game. Sometimes that's tempting, either because love has become hard to trust, or because you don't feel like you're worth it. But just don't. Don't toss a heart away to see how many times it will come back. Because at some point, the ebb tide will pull it out far enough, and you won't be able to retrieve it.

Even if you can't reciprocate, for whatever reason, you should treat the offerer nicely and with respect. And if you're letting them go, you should allow them to slip gently into the waves, rather than leaving them beached or crushed or so tangled in seaweed or nets that the effort of untangling is tantamount to drowning.

This, I'd say, is the biggest thing I've learned. Be kind and be gentle with love, even if you do not want to keep it.

I've pushed and I've pulled. I've skimmed hearts like smooth grey rocks out into the distance, and I've had mine slammed with the swirly grinding sand into the bottom. I hope to avoid the latter, and I'm damn sure never going to do the former to anyone ever again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Insight at the Saloon

I went to the Saloon recently. I've walked by it a variety of times but never been. And it's one of my new favorite places.

Laura and I sat at the bar and had delicious lentil soup. As we started nibbling, the owner came out with more fried onions to put on the top. He said that made it even better. He was right.

They have all these lovely beers there, and when I arrived Laura, who had gotten there a bit before me, was snacking on pistachios and sipping a beer called Saxo Blonde. She'd been trying to choose between that one and one called Nessie, which I wound up ordering at the recommendation of the bartender. And because it's hard to resist intriguing names.

At some point the owner asked my why I'd chosen that particular beer, because it's his beer of choice.

I said we loved the name and the bartender had recommended it. And that I liked but didn't love it. And thought I might prefer Laura's. He said he'd help me choose the next one.

And so he pulled out another bottle of beer, poured a little taste in a glass so I could see if I liked it. Which I did.

It was also compellingly named - La Sirene.

Oddly enough, nothing weird happened to us the whole night, even though I was with Laura, and typically some kind of bizareness trips over us while we're out. But we just spent the evening catching up, very low key in this really warm, comfortable bar.

Eventually we decided to split a third beer. And so I was trying to decide what else I wanted to try. I asked the owner for a suggestion.

He said, "Didn't you like this one?"

"Oh, I absolutely did. I liked it a lot."

"Then why don't you just stick with it?"

This gave me pause. Why not just have another of the same? I liked it - why not stick with it?

By the same token, there are a ton of potentially delicious, intriguing, unknown options. Why not try a different one?

All I can do is smile and shrug and say, "I think I'm just like that."