Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Gap Between Tough Love and Sympathy

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about how I relate to others…and I how I seem to be lacking a sympathy gene. I read this very poignant blog post the other day and felt guilty that I could not be as understanding and enlightened as its writer, Mandy.

I am the person who doles out tough love like I have an endless supply. I will tell you to quit crying and find a solution. Figure out how to make your life better. Figure out how to get to the place you want to be. Stop going down the same path again and again and expecting a different result. I don’t think I’m good at comforting…

A friend of mine was telling me yesterday about her broken ex-husband and how he isn’t over her and how she feels sorry for him. Why would anyone feel sorry for him, I thought. He made a series of choices that led him to where he is. He chose to not take responsibility for his life. He chooses to play the victim. No sympathy from me.

And he’s not the only one who doesn’t get it.

Because of this great thing called choice, it’s hard for me to feel sorry for people who—even in the most difficult circumstances—cannot make better choices for themselves. Does it take hard work? Yes. Is it easier to whine and focus on being stuck and unhappy? Yes. But there’s always a new path to be blazed. And unless you’ve exhausted every option and have held yourself fully accountable, I just don’t really feel sorry for you.

But then I flip over to the liberal, bleeding heart side…

I attended a portion of The Women’s Conference of California in Long Beach this week and found myself yearning to be like the remarkable women who received Minerva Awards. This honor is given for work done to improve individual communities and the world. One of this year’s recipients set up a tutoring program for homeless children. Another created a rehab facility for native Americans. Another built a hospice center for dying children and their families. And the last was environmentalist and defender/researcher of the chimpanzee population, Jane Goodall.

Watching these women’s stories made me feel so inspired. What could I be doing to make my world better? How could I reach out and help people? I felt so strongly that I wanted to do something like they had. That I needed to do something.

Why doesn’t this feeling strike me when it comes to the people I know personally? Maybe I hold them to a higher standard? It seems like a big disconnect.

Anyone else out there experience anything similar? Or are you all great sympathizers? And if so, what advice can you give me to be more understanding of the people around me?

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Concert Recap and Thank You Note

Dear Mr. Wonderful,

Thank you for standing in the blazing Pasadena sun with me yesterday to wait in the general admission ticket entrance line for the U2 concert. Thank you for holding it together when people were squished together like sardines, stepping over ditched lawn chairs and piles of garbage, only to get to the turnstiles, receive our GA wristbands, and have our tickets show up as “refunded” when they were scanned.

Thank you for holding my hand as we navigated through thousands of people to get to Will Call to try to solve the problem. Thank you for being supportive when we found out that the friends we’d gone to the concert with not only got in, but got in to the inner circle right in front of the stage. Thank you for helping me keep it together as we had to wait 45 minutes in line, simultaneously trying to talk to StubHub customer service, to figure out whether we’d received fake tickets. Thanks for sighing with relief next to me when we found out our tickets worked.

Thanks for walking all the way around the Rose Bowl back to the floor entrance. And for waiting in another line with me to get a hotdog.

Thanks for being a trooper as people crowded in all around us on the field, the drunk ones starting fist fights with people around us. Thanks for trying to defend me when I chimed in to an argument with a sleezy, white trash intoxicated bitch, letting her know that she hadn’t gotten in line early (and therefore would not be allowed to weave her way through the crowd and get in front of us) only to get backhanded in the face by her. Thank you for smacking her arm away. Thank you for trying to bring my blood back down from a boil, and preventing me from attacking her and getting us kicked out of the show. And thank you for agreeing that I could’ve totally taken her midgety blonde ass down in a heartbeat.

Thank you for also strongarm-escorting me away from her after the show when I wanted to go beat her face in.

Thank you for trying to lift me up when Bono came over to the section of catwalk in front of us. Thank you for flashing your gorgeous dimples at me every time I turned around to look at you during the performance. Thank you for smiling, even though I know you were pretty miserable being sandwiched between hundreds of people there on the floor. Thank you for holding my hand and not telling me to simmer down when I was jumping all around and spazzing out to the music. Thank you for kissing my cheek when “In a Little While” played and reminded us both of Arezzo.

Thank you for being patient when our friends got lost after the concert and we had to wait 45 minutes for them to find the car…after carefully planning an easy-getaway parking route. Thank you for driving us all home safely even though you were tired.

But most of all, thank you for taking such incredibly awesome pictures…

I love you, my most favorite Mr. W.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Work of Art?

For many years now, I have jokingly referred to my face as a Picasso. My eyes aren’t level. My lips are too thin. Nose is crooked. Teeth are way off center. Nothing is quite in the right spot. (And don’t even get me started on my ears…one is literally a quarter inch higher than the other.)

Usually when I make the Picasso joke, Mr. Wonderful shushes me. I’m sure this is just because he doesn’t want his taste in women questioned…

Anyway, back to my teeth. I have effed up teeth. The first one I ever lost as a kid was a molar. I have a baby tooth still hanging in there on one side. And when my parents took me to the orthodontist in 5th grade, they said if they gave me braces, my teeth might fall out. Apparently I have scrawny roots that wouldn’t hold if the teeth attached to them shifted too much. So I had retainers for 5 years. And now I have a little Tom Cruise off-center midline. Most people don’t pay attention to it. And I’ve come to love all my “artistic” flaws, so I don’t mind it much.

However, last week after his dental appointment, Mr. W and I began discussing and investigating each others’ teeth. I noticed for the first time ever that his bottom ones are a little crooked like mine. Cute. Then he started examining my midline and as I tried to explain that I was actually missing two teeth on one side (which might really only be one tooth because the permanent resident baby tooth accounts for the other), he bugged out his eyes and slowly recoiled, pointing his finger at my poor little chicken-lipped mouth moaning, “Exxxtraaa toooooth!”

It was as though he discovered an extra toe. Or an undeveloped tail. Or the severed limbs of my ex-boyfriend in my mouth.

“I’m just missing some on the other side!” I tried to set him straight.

I couldn’t believe the horror in his voice and his inability to get out more than two words to describe the atrocity he was viewing at that moment. It made me want to chase him, shoving my disproportionate chompers in his face, yelling “Eat you! Eat you! Eat you!.”

I was thinking about dressing up as something scary for Halloween. But apparently I’m creepy enough without a costume. And here I was just thinking I was a one-of-a-kind work of art…

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Run

My feet grip the pavement,
Hands grip the air,
My house key.

Stamp. Stamp. Stamp.
Pounding it out.
Sweating it out.
Aching it out.

Ponytail swings in the night
Behind me, propelling
Every worry
Every wonder
Every upset
Every sympathy.
They flit and fly off toward the trees.

And I am free.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Watching a Multi-Car Pile-up

Over the last several months or year, I feel like I’ve been standing on the edge of a freeway. Cars are zooming into view, some are spinning out of control, and no matter how much I scream, “Slow down! Go a different direction! Steer IN to the skid!” no one can hear me. There’s nothing I can do to stop any of it. Nothing I can do to help. Nothing I can do but watch the cars collide and stack on top of one another.

Since I can’t prevent the accidents, I try to set up a triage station. I try to help the injured and guide them back to places where maybe they’ll feel better. But I think most of them just nod and walk away with wounds gaping. They will get back into their cars bruised and broken and maybe they will go out and get into a dozen more accidents.

It’s hard to watch. It makes me wonder if crashing is inevitable.

It makes me wonder if marriage is really just an out-of-control vehicle that’s destined to hit walls and hurt people. It makes me wonder if we’re keeping an institution on life support that should be allowed to pass away quietly. It makes me wonder if it is at all possible to stay on a safe, sturdy path and not flip upside-down if you choose to say “I do.”

Even the marriages that look healthy and happy on the outside raise questions. Maybe there are things we don’t see. Maybe someone is hiding something. I don’t know. I don’t know if people stay together because they’re afraid to be alone—or if being together really is gratifying.

My parents have a marriage I’d like to model fairly closely. I have no memories of big, terrible fights. Nobody ever called each other names or walked out on one another. Nobody questioned their feelings. Or maybe they did, and I just never knew.

It seems like there are steps you can take to avoid going off course and smacking into a line of trees. It seems like the accidents should be preventable. That if you truly, honestly, 100% respect each other, and you’re truly 100% passionate about each other, and you’re truly 100% certain of who you are as an individual, maybe just maybe you can forge a life together that works. But I just don’t know.

I don’t want to lose my faith in the idea of marriage. But typing that makes me think, is it really I who doesn’t want to lose faith, or has society conditioned me to think I should keep the faith. How much of what we all think and feel is based on antiquated notions of the way things should be?

As much as friends and family tell me how they can’t wait to see me engaged, I hear them make sarcastic remarks like, “this is what you have to look forward to,” and even, “you should just be smart and become a lesbian.”

Is it possible anymore to have a good marriage? Was it ever possible? Or does the majority of the population just not know what they’re missing? Do they stay in situations because they think they’re supposed to—or that what they have is as good as it gets, when really there might be something out there a million times better.

I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I just know that it’s incredibly hard to watch the people around me keep crashing. It’s hard not to wonder if one day I’ll skid into the pile-up, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Thong Pox on My House

As if I don’t have enough else to keep me occupied, I’ve been dealing with a thong pox on my house. How do I know it’s a thong pox? Allow me to present the evidence.

Incident A: The laundry room
Several years ago, a dear friend of mine bought me a silky, black thong from Victoria’s Secret that says “Angel” in rhinestones across the front of it. Considering what a chaste and pious individual I am, I know you find that fitting. But I think it’s kind of trashy and funny.

About two weeks ago, I was doing laundry in our communal facility when I looked up and saw said thong folded on one of the shelves above the dryer. Couldn’t have been a nice, tame white cotton one. Nope, had to be my stripper underwear. And I’m sure it was the 79-year-old two doors down who found it hiding in the dryer. Very embarrassing.

Incident B: The bathroom
Shortly after finding the Angel thong out in the great wide open, my apartment became overrun with ants. They got into the cat food. They were coming out of the bathtub faucet. They were in my linen closet. And the day I left a heap of dirty clothes lying on my bathroom sink, I came home to find my thong covered in ants. SO freaking sick.

Incident C: The hallway
I wear flip-flops to work a lot. So much that I get teased about it. What can I say, I’m a California girl. Anyway, I was sporting my favorite black thongy thongs last week when I unknowingly bounced down the hallway and stepped in a pile of cat barf. Nothing better to come home to after a long day at the office. It was dark, I didn’t see it, and as I flipped on the bathroom light and hopped toward the tub to wash the shoe, I noticed the puke was covered in ANTS. Super fun. There is an ant man coming today to spray under my apartment.

Incident D: The kitchen
Sunday night after enjoying a lovely 2nd birthday celebration for my youngest niece, Mr. W and I stopped by my apartment to grab a couple things before heading back to his house. I was racing into the kitchen to get the frozen panna cotta (DELISH, I tell you) I bought at Trader Joe’s, when one of my favorite flip-flops from the story above came unhooked from its sole and flew off my foot. They were only $7 at H&M but I looove them and was very sad that they might not see another day.

Thankfully, I performed surgery on the broken shoe last night and was able to repair it. And I have made a mental note to triple check the washer and dryer when cleaning any undergarments. I’m hoping these activities will undo the pox. However, if they don’t work, I am prepared to consider switching to ballet flats and granny panties.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It All Started with a Toilet in the Backseat

This past weekend, Mr. W and I ventured to beautiful, exotic Fresno, California where he purchased a house to flip. Bright and early Saturday morning, we made the drive up the 5 freeway with a brand new toilet in the backseat of the Beemer. I wanted to sit on it, but Mr. W didn’t think I’d fit back there.

We made a quick stop at an outlet mall because, well, why wouldn’t we? And then it was over the train tracks to the new house. Ain’t it purdy?

It’s a foreclosure Mr. W bought for no money on auction. The people living in it totally trashed it and then signed it over to a colony of cockroaches. And this dried up frog that was in one of the bedroom closets.

Needless to say, I did a lot of squealing while we were working on it. And for the record: spraying Raid directly on a roach does not kill it on contact. I actually had a cockroach nightmare last night as a result of all the exposure…

The house is a great buy, though, and I know it’s going to look amazing when he’s done with it. Even just hanging a new door in the front made a difference.

The evening and next morning were spent at his dad and stepmom’s place, which was pretty much like agricultural Disneyland. In addition to the two miniature horses below, they have two dogs, three cats (one is a kitten that I wanted to sneak home in my purse), three rabbits, a chicken and a rooster.

They have 3 acres of land that feels a bit like a resort and a farm rolled in to one. It was a nice escape from Rancho Roacho.

I’m pleased to say that no one saw me in my underwear (well, except those intended to see me that way) and I got along swimmingly with stepmom, who I hadn’t met before. I’ll definitely post some progress pictures as the house comes along. But until then, I have about 4,587 other things to get caught up on in my life. And I have to go drink wine and eat chocolate tonight.