reflection

Where Were All the Single Ladies?

It’s been a while since my last post, and although a lot has happened since moving into the new house it’s mostly variations on a theme. It’s the same DIY theme that seems to be the vein of ore in my life. As I discussed in the last post I’ve had some great examples for how and why to thrive on self-reliance. Over the last year (and especially in the last few months), the thought has turned to “Why the hell don’t I have any role models for this?”

 

One long, enlightened weekend with Ms Annie in Minnie, we actually said at one point that we wished that as young girls we’d had examples of the independent women we’d grow into. How many examples did we have of women who were satisfied with themselves and their lives without it having to center around kids, or a relationship? The key to happiness is following your passion. Marriage and family can be important and fulfilling, but so can a career, hobbies, and friendship.

 
 

As an adult I’ve had more and more examples of women who are happily self-reliant, ambitious, and good people. As a kid, though, I couldn’t think of any major role models I had who fit this model. Certainly none of my aunts or other older immediate family members  qualified. Even though my aunt went back to school to become a successful nurse and did all right after her divorce, a lot of unhealthy things followed. The next closest example was my cousin Teeny, who worked in a large city for a major corporation and was responsible enough to buy her own house and pay off her school debt. Unfortunately, she’s also a raging alcoholic.

 

So while my mom’s family would be best described as an episode of COPS set in backwoods Appalachia, she did end up having two female friends who were great role models for independence, ambition, and happiness. Despite having lots of strong female friends, most of these women were in abusive relationships, had drug/alcohol problems, couldn’t keep their work life together. (Is that a nice way to say it?) She did have other friends who didn’t have these issues, but I never knew them enough to tell you anything about them now. One woman was a lawyer, I guess she’s survived cancer now? Another one was a professor? Clearly you can tell the impact they had on my life.

 
 

That leaves us with her first best friend Steph, and her now best friend Sassy. (You’ll be happy to know that Sassy is the one who taught Lil Pirate and Lil Bro the proper uses of the word “fuck”.)

 
 

Steph is married, has kids my and my brother’s ages, and used to work with my mom. She’s intelligent, hard-working, responsible, and takes good care of her family. If a kid needed a positive influence for their work life, how to make decisions about money, difficult family situations, or life in general Steph was a good person to know. Nobody’s perfect, but she had a significant impact in our lives.

 
 

Sassy is around 7-10 years older than me, and she became besties with my mom when she went back to college. Lil Bro and I were still young and impressionable and Mom had a lot of friends who were young, intelligent, hard-working, and kind. As time went on people moved on to other cities for jobs, sunk into drugs or alcohol, or else just drifted away. There was a short time where Sassy had a boyfriend, but I distinctly remember her breaking up with him because he was an idiot. We never knew if Sassy was usually single because she has a disability, but it turns out that it really doesn’t matter.

She doesn’t have any high-powered job, she’ll never be a supermodel, and she’ll never have kids of her own. Sassy’s financially independent, takes care of her health problem, is a doting aunt to her nieces and nephews, and stands up for herself.

 
 

These are the only two women I knew who weren’t stuck in a relationship because it was abusive or they couldn’t support themselves, didn’t have drug or alcohol problems, had jobs they were good at and were leading to fulfilling careers, and supported their friends, family, and community. Maybe that’s a long list of requirements. It’s also a long list of unhappy trappings if it’s not what you want.

 

And that was it, until I was in my early 20s.

 

I know I’ll be a trailblazer, if that wasn’t how I was born then it’s an old habit now that will be hard to break. I’ve come to terms with the confusion and the difficulty figuring out what was important to me as a younger adult and I know I’m stronger for it. Resisting following the crowd was hard, because even though money, relationships, family were things I wanted, they weren’t what was right for me at the time. Thinking about future versions of Lil Pirates, I always wonder why the message can’t be “Follow your passion” instead of “School, Job, Marriage, Family”.

 
 

This isn’t an issue only for girls, either. Young boys grow up with these examples of what women will or should be, and if we don’t think to treat people as individuals on their own merits, we run into a very unhappy world.

Of course, that’s a lesson that is greater than gender.

Kids learn by bad examples, so this isn’t a lost cause if people aren’t perfect. But if people don’t have any accessible, real-life examples of being happy and successful doing something different, they might not realise they can be strong instead of sinking into following the crowd even if it makes them unhappy.

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Categories: childhood, family, friends, life lessons, reflection, Workaholic | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

House Insanity – I Got This

Moving is always an adventure, and when coupled with buying your first house, you realize what stuff you’re made of. While I’ve had plenty of essential help and advice from Miss J and a few other friends, it became clear to me that my parents taught me two incredibly important lessons that are making this entire endeavor possible. If you’re a regular reader of my blog you may have an idea that most of the lessons I learned from my parents were typically why or how NOT to do something, but these two lessons about independence I actually learned vividly by example.

 

My mom and dad are two very different people, but what they do have in common is determination. Big surprise that their offspring are doubly stubborn and determined then, but even more important were their lessons in getting things done.

 

My dad likes to learn new things, and if there’s a hobby he wants to pick up or trade he wants to try, he’ll find a way to learn. I remember him going to the library for books and videos about plumbing, how to build a deck, trapping, how to build a compost pile, all before the internet. Even though I learn by doing more so than by reading a book, my dad set the example that there’s nothing you can’t do if you’re willing to learn. He remodeled the house we moved into in the early ’90s and built the deck out front. 20 years later it’s all still there and in much better condition than the neighboring houses.

Thanks to my dad’s example I’ve learned a variety of skills and hobbies – from teaching myself new instruments, to working on cars, to the fabulous world of personal finance. The only obstacle to whatever it is you want to do is not being willing to find a teaching resource and try your hand. Even if you can’t do something professionally (like rebuild your engine), learning about the task at hand makes it easier to find someone who IS capable of doing it for you.

 

My mother taught me a similar lesson, but more importantly I learned that there’s nothing I can’t do by myself. Ignore the fact that I’m a woman for a second. If there’s something that needs to be done, if I can find a way to learn how to do it, I can do it and I can do it by myself. As a single parent I watched her repair furniture, get her truck out of the ditch, basically accomplish anything that needed to be done simply because there was no one else around to help her. What was a necessity for her has now become a luxury for me.

Yes, Miss J kindly helped me pack up the car and the moving truck and I called the Little Mermaid to help me move the table, but when Miss J hurt her ankle I was able to pick up and carry on by myself. Little Mermaid was very kind and helped me move everything  out of the moving truck and into the house, but I put everything except the table in there on my own. I’ve put all the furniture together, repaired the table, and figured out everything else in the house. I don’t need to rely on having to call someone, do without, or otherwise feel insecure because I’m on my own.

 

I got this.

 

Having a house is a nice feeling – I finally feel like I’m home. It’s even better knowing that, no matter what kind of trouble comes, I’ll be able to handle it. Whether it’s installing a ceiling fan or hiring a qualified electrician I know I’m capable of getting it done right. All thanks to my crazy stubborn parents.

Categories: family, getting old, hobbies, house insanity, reflection | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lil Bro’s Wedding – the Calm Before the Storm

It’s finally happening, Lil Bro is getting hitched this weekend. I wish I could say it’s against my better judgment (it’s not – I wouldn’t miss being there for Lil Bro for the world), I’m going to be spending a weekend surrounded by our family.

 

Alone.

 

Yes, I’m completely alone, without anyone accompanying me as a distraction, a babysitter, or a crutch.

WTF am I thinking???

 

Well, at first I wasn’t thinking – the first week or two after I got the invitation was a near-constant panic attack. Two months later, leaving Hicktown for the South, I was finally mentally and emotionally prepared for this… thing? I have no idea what to expect. It could be a circus, it could be fine – the only constant I know is that my mom will bring up the old drama, my dad will stonewall me and pretend to be nice, and even though I’m sitting at the family table for dinner I’m going to be the odd one out like all the other family events I’ve been to since I left home. My dad’s wife used to be known for leaving obscene voicemails and doing obscene drive-bys and my mom is known for telling every secret under the sun when she drinks, and then making up more… So who knows?

In the days before I left Hicktown I had a few bouts of anxiety, one of them pretty intense. Eventually I was able to articulate for myself that these crazy jerks don’t even know me so anything they might say to me or about me doesn’t even matter. The usual topics of conversation are just politics-baiting.
Seriously, the two insults I always hear are that I’m a “goddamn liberal” (only half-true, more like I think for myself which is actually pretty verboten on its own) and I’m a lesbian. No, dad, I’m not, but you’re the one who always starts that rumor. And even if I were a lesbian at least I’m not a child molester and don’t sleep with my relatives. Those two practices are actually commonplace in our family.

 

Since my vacation earlier this summer didn’t pan out, in the interest of mental health I took a few extra days off this week and am driving the long way around to stop in a few different cities. Last night I stayed in St Louis, which turned out to be surprisingly fun and relaxing. Road trips have always been me-time, but I met a friend and ended up laughing the night away. Today I slept in, had breakfast, started making my way through Tennessee to arrive in Carolina tomorrow afternoon. Blinding thunderstorms aside, driving was still therapeutic and I was in a groove.

…that is, until I was an hour east of Nashville and started panicking about how I’m going to spend Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon surrounded by family. 48 hours of snide remarks, outright challenges, lies and changed history, new or distant relatives afraid to get to know me because of the inevitable retaliation or my mom being crazy. At my cousin’s wedding 10 years ago I thought I really was the problem until my dad’s wife’s mother told her she will come talk to me regardless of them “forbidding” her to talk to me. Knowing the background makes it easier for my rational mind to process, but under the layers of reason I paint on myself daily is still a scared little kid. Ashamed, afraid, and empty.

 

If you were on eastbound I-40 today and were almost sideswiped by a little black sedan, please let me apologise. Fucking panic attacks, man.

 

The lizard part of my brain that’s still a sad, lonely, scared kid keeps telling me all the likely scenarios I’ll encounter. The logical, Type A part of my brain keeps telling me to calm down, people make a big deal about shit that doesn’t matter, I’m an adult with a good life and I’m a good person, don’t engage, blah blah blah. It’s only working to the extent that I’m not having nightmares and have been able to function in the real world. Success…?

My hope is that I’ll have prepared for nothing. Second to that, maybe the rehearsing how to be calm and collected will kick in and I’ll be able to play the part without the lizard brain taking over.

 

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just bust out the bruises on my leg and give them all something to talk about.

Categories: reflection, road trip, you gotta be kidding | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Prodigal Cheesehead

Alternate title: American Woman

 

Often, people will say that the point of travelling is to learn how similar the world is – from Bangalore to Berlin to Bumblefuck, Wisconsin. It’s true, people all over the world typically have the same desires and struggles, and getting outside of one’s own backyard is essential to really accepting and understanding the world in which we live. However, past a certain point of globetrotting I came to a profound appreciation of America’s differences and even developed a preference for my own backyard.

 

This was never the case in my early youth. As long as I can remember, I dreamed of Spain where my grandparents had lived. I dreamed of the Philippines and the jungle, of Korea, of Turkey – the places my family had lived in the military. My grandmother collected souvenir spoons and I would marvel at the display, asking her if she really had visited every state stamped or painted onto the spoon. It was impossible to believe that one person could see so many places but still be my grandma from Chicago! This became my dream.

 

Early on I learned foreign languages. As childhood grew into the painful teenage years and young adulthood, I saw these languages as my ticket to another world. I always imagined life would be fundamentally different somewhere else, even if it wasn’t necessarily better. I would learn to drink coffee and eat strange French food, my love of romantic and medieval literature a buoy in the cultural tempest. I could travel to South America, my missionary’s accent overshadowed by my ability to adapt to new vocabularies and syntax. Gone would be the anguish of not having a family, since I would be thousands of miles away instead of in the same time zone, same state, even the same house. Always, I dreamed.

 

So I traveled. Cross country trips in the US are like visiting a foreign country – sometimes you find you can barely understand locals in Appalachia. It’s not the same as the Deep South, it’s not the same as anywhere. Even Minnesota and Illinois can be starkly different from central Wisconsin. As I made my first forays to France and Canada I reveled in the contrast to home. Being able to thrive (not just survive) in a language other than my mother tongue was thrilling! We discussed literature – from my favorite medieval topics to the great American writers of the 20th century. We all had something in common, even the Hungarian girl whose boyfriend had to translate for her. It felt wild.

 

I fell into the job I have now and travel came. I can be sent abroad for weeks at a time, traipsing through enough European countries to give my bank a heart attack. I love breakfast in Milan, Germany, Portugal; my favorite Thai food is in Sweden. People watching is the best in Amsterdam and Portugal because they’ve got such stunning population diversity. Despite these unique cultural differences the people I worked with all wanted the same things – time off to travel and healthy families; they all had the same hobbies like sports, fashion, reading, and photography; they all voiced the same frustrations with their government about corruption, the economy, fears of pollution and under-funding of public services. Sure, America is very different from Europe when we talk about social policy, but people everywhere want the same basic things.

 

Maybe it’s no surprise the epiphany came when I landed in JFK after spending two weeks in 5 different countries. I found myself ecstatic to land in a place where I had the right currency, inherently understood the local customs, and spoke the language with native fluency and had no worries about my idiomatic proficiency. Normally language barriers don’t phase me – even in Germany I spoke enough to get by in the shops and could understand printed directions well enough. I’ve been speaking French and Spanish since I was a young girl so it’s no sweat to spend my day “getting by”. Even in Lisbon I started to learn the language and now do fine in Portuguese. I get reimbursed for currency exchange fees and EVERYONE takes Visa. I have no fear about potentially embarrassing myself and learning new customs, so what’s the deal?

 

Sometimes it’s all just too much. I have no problem being sent abroad for weeks or months and adapting to new cultures, but all told I really appreciate being home. Charles Darwin said it’s not the most intelligent creatures that survive, but the ones most able to adapt, and I truly have taken that to heart. Even though the work is useful and necessary, it still takes a toll. I like instinctively knowing how to drive, order food, and talk to other people when I’m home in the US. I like knowing what’s popular and relevant, and I like having an idea of what the people around me are experiencing. I’ve been far too empathetic since I was a kid, and either I would be uncomfortable when others were or I would be yearning to learn new ways of living and experiencing the world. Maybe it’s a great thing when you’re a kid, since it drove me to learn and experience new things with little fear and a great deal of excitement. Now, I think I might not have the energy for it anymore.

 

So, yes, the world is a wonderful place full of new experiences and people who often share the same hopes and fears that we do. Get out and experience something different for a while – let it change you and broaden your perspective. Let me know if you don’t grow tired of it after some time and yearn to be home despite all the delicious breakfasts, cool clothes, and fun times you can have in these exotic places.

Categories: getting old, reflection, travel, Workaholic | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Contentment and Satisfaction – Strange Bedfellows Indeed

So not to lose you in the bog surrounding today’s philosophical journey, forgive me jumping straight to the point of my thoughts and not leading you in by the hand with a friendly introduction. It seems a central theme in my life is risk-taking and satisfaction, and now that I’m actually an adult I’m wondering if I forgot where contentment fits in all this mess. I believe that tolerance and contentment are related, whereas contentment and satisfaction are strange bedfellows that have no business breeding.

What??

 

Life has been in a bit of upheaval in the last month or so. I’ve left the desert for the homeland of the Midwest and am now embarking on buying a house. After a whirlwind move I’ve had the opportunity to be catching up with several friends, a few of whom are the long-lost sort. Despite these friends being far-flung and of different personalities our conversations echo the same theme.

 

The most startling comment I’ve heard was from a friend I hadn’t really talked to since well before the snowboarding accident. We had been catching up on life and after summarising my recent move and the events of buying a house he said something about my personality that stopped me in my tracks. I can’t remember exactly how it was said, but the gist is that I’m fiercely independent and that the wild girl who wanted to set the world on fire he’d first met 10 years ago still hasn’t died out. Sure, I might also be described as brave and tenacious, and being independent isn’t really a bad thing, but this made me take a step back and think.

 

I’ve made a career out of taking calculated risks and I’ve had some wonderful life experiences by setting out for myself to accomplish things. Not all of them have been as hare-brained as the others, but I guess there is truth about me wanting to set the world on fire. Passionate has always been a word I’ve used to describe myself.

 

So in the course of jumping through hoops to buy this house I’ve got my eye on, I was speaking with another old friend who went through the same process last year – except with fewer hoops. He was suggesting finding a new realtor to do all the heavy lifting for me, lamenting that he couldn’t just wave a wand and make all the complicated pieces fit in place. Without thinking I replied that I’m in this mess because I trusted other people to take care of things for me in the first place, and if you want something done right you’re better off doing it yourself. These were reflexive comments made without forethought, so when I actually looked at what I’d written the conversations of the last few weeks about the fiery independent streak that’s still burning in my blood flooded back and hit me like a wave of bricks.

SMUSH

One of my besties makes an off-the-cuff comment lamenting the difficulties of buying a house and I immediately go to my “fuck everyone else”, “put the team on your back” place? What the hell is wrong with this?

 

Nothing is wrong with me, per se, but thinking of all the events in life that have led me to this solid steel wall of GOTTA DO IT MYSELF I’m  beginning to realise that I’ve never learned to be content.  I’m unable to tolerate myself when I’m not striving for my best, to make a reasonable dream happen. What I have learned is that the disappointment of a failed risk is infinitely better than the disappointment of the current situation, no matter how temporary it may be. If I had many regrets then maybe I would have thought of this earlier. Instead, I’ve learned to take failure as a learning opportunity, an opportunity to better insulate myself, and a badge of honour on my Girl Scout sash.

 

Life is all about those achievement badges.

 

Where my independence is concerned, I can’t say that I regret any of the decisions I’ve made in the last decade or so. I’m going to be able to look back on my life and be satisfied that I didn’t let any opportunities pass me by, and also that I didn’t give up on anything too soon. I can also say that I know how to find contentment in other areas of my life. Parts of my body are built in awkward ways and I fully embrace it. When I was younger I dreamed of being a billionaire, a world-renowned theoretical mathematician, an acclaimed scholar, and I’m perfectly content with letting those dreams go. However, when it comes to certain issues like financial planning and cleanliness I completely lose my cool and am completely unable to be content with any differences from what I believe is right and responsible. I seriously find it impossible to tolerate any standards that are less stringent than my own. Not that my standards are impossible, they’re just particular.

 

Tolerance and contentment go hand in hand and I think they’re unrelated to satisfaction and risk. Risk leads to satisfaction, whether you succeed right away or if you fail and have to keep trying. Learning to be tolerant of differences, both between ourselves and others and between our ideals and reality is what allows us to be content in life. I never learned to relax my expectations and tolerate anything less than doing one’s absolute best. Giving 80% or 5% is the same when you know the actual capacity is 100%, at least in this twisted little head of mine. It’s not something I’m sure I want to learn to tolerate in myself, but it’s something I MUST learn to tolerate in others if I ever have any hope of dampening this wild, fiery blood of mine.

Categories: character flaws, getting old, pet peeves, reflection | Leave a comment

My Smartass 15 Year Old Self Wasn’t That Far Off…

Teenagers say crazy things and make terrible decisions, don’t they? With unrealistic expectations of the world and themselves, many are lucky to make it into adulthood with any sense of direction or purpose. I was especially naïve, sheltered from the world and unaware of my own capabilities. Luckily that lack of perspective led me to a pretty wild dream that’s kind of transforming my life as I realize it.

Daydreaming with fellow smartass coworkers one afternoon at the local burger joint, I boasted that I’d speak 7 languages as an adult and be a superstar international businesswoman. French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, German, Chinese, and Portuguese, if you’re curious. Now I’ve always had a knack for languages, but I had no idea it was possible to travel and speak French for a living since my career didn’t even exist in the early days of the internet. There were plenty of things I loved growing up, but as much as I loved math, biology, and the dozen instruments I played in band I couldn’t see myself pursuing any of those as a career. So, I studied French in college and focused on finding a job that would pay the bills until I figured out how to follow my passion of speaking French.

flags'

Fast forward to the present. No, I’m not a mogul, but I work for a European travel company and get to go spend time with our teams in a dozen countries. Fluent in French, I also get by with Spanish and spend more time with Portuguese, German, and Norwegian than I ever imagined. When I went to Italy I was able to read/understand about 80% of the signs, and since we work with the 3 major Nordic countries I’m often sifting through Swedish and Danish right alongside Norwegian. It’s only too bad the Latin I studied in college doesn’t get much opportunity to be used.

That afternoon in 1999 I picked Portuguese on a whim, trying to impress and out-do my friends. This was years before the birth and explosion of Orkut where we realized how many Brazilians there are online! I had no idea I’d spend 3 months living in Portugal.

Faro, Portugal

Faro, Portugal

I tried Arabic in college during Linguistics courses and frankly it’s totally lost on me. I traded French lessons for Russian lessons in college, but the learning was so slow going that my tutor and I gave up. Chinese never happened. It turns out that French has done more for me than I’d ever imagined, and being able to add German and Portuguese to my arsenal have opened more doors than I knew existed. Russian would also be helpful, but if I’m honest I just don’t have the time. For now.

I’ve always said that being able to speak Spanish is what kept me employed throughout school, but being fluent in French is what unlocked my current career path and has been a springboard to my professional success and happiness. Spanish never really grew on me, but relying on it for work is probably what kept that forgotten fire burning. Every time I remember my parents telling me not to study French in school because nobody speaks it, I look at my annual review and the stamps in my passport.

mylifein10years

What other dreams did we have as teens and young adults that could also unlock our passions and drive us to happiness?

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Bittersweet isn’t so bad when it comes from your mp3 player

Stumbling on memories of old friends unexpectedly is often like cleaning out the fridge – usually they’ve spoiled and all you can do is wish you’d finished the meal before it went bad. Every now and then though you find some penicillin. I found mine this morning.

I was putting together music suitable for picking up my boss from the airport tomorrow and ended up listening to Counting Crows. During the Spring of 2003 I drove to Ohio to take an old friend’s extra ticket to see Counting Crows because his girlfriend dumped him. That friendship and the ones I formed after that trip are usually what come to mind, every bitter and sweet part of learning to take charge of adulthood.

Later that Spring though Counting Crows came to Stevens Point and I went to the concert with my boyfriend and his best friend. It wasn’t the shitty boyfriend I thought of but his friend (whom I’ll call Rat) and probably one of the most tender and honest times I’ve ever had with someone.

Rat and I became very close after a domestic incident with the loser bf and unexpectedly he became a buoy in the stormy sea I’d capsized into. Slowly we got to know each other, we talked about our lives, we had our own little nerd haven of anime, D&D, Lord of the Rings, Counting Crows. There are two distinct moments I remember and together they are the most perfect example of bittersweet in my life.

The sweet moment was a kiss under a tree during a midnight trek through Scmeekle Park looking for zombies. It was the brief perfect culmination of the early part of courtship. I won’t say that no other kiss ever compared to it, but it was a first and it was perfect.

The bitter came to a head nearly a year later when I realized I had to give that up. Rat had spent a semester abroad and I’d gone to Minnesota for school and he came to visit me when he got back just before finals. I let him stay in my tiny studio apartment and he drove me home for winter break. I wanted to try and build on the connection we’d had that summer but Rat (gently) made it clear that although he enjoyed my company there was no hope for a relationship. I haven’t thought about it in ages but this morning I caught a whiff of the pungent minute when I told Rat “I like you too much to pretend that I don’t.” He was shirtless, stretched out on my floor and I was immune to his charms but somehow this perfect little burp came out and saved us both.

Such is the history of a woman who’s made a life out of following her passions. Part of that life MUST be knowing your limits so you can avoid getting in over your head. Sadly this heartbreak wasn’t a first and it wasn’t the last, but somehow it was fulfilling in the end.

There’s no need for any more surprises today, I think I’ll stick to a Maroon 5 CD tomorrow.

Categories: getting old, reflection | Leave a comment

What Do I Want?

My friend Josh was telling me today about the girls he’s tried dating since the last time I talked to him this Fall and I started thinking about what I want in a partner. I’d gone through a self-discovery exercise about two years ago after the breakup with J and made a list of the qualities I want and need in a partner to be happy. Earlier this Summer/Fall I started thinking about this list and wondered if I needed to re-evaluate what I want in my life since it’s obviously changed in the last two years.

 

Yes, some of the things on my list have changed. Then I started wondering if I’m offering all the things to my partner that I need in order to not only be happy myself but be happy in a partnership. You get what you give and I know lately I’ve been cranky and dissatisfied – primarily with myself. It’s not pleasant. Is the unhappiness in my life just an extension of the unhappiness with myself?

 

My ideal partner is someone who is financially responsible (or at least has started planning for the future), self-motivated, an open communicator, someone with good hygiene and wants a commitment like marriage and a family. I would say that the ones I really fulfill are wanting a commitment and being self-motivated and more or less I’m financially responsible despite having less-than-desirable credit.

 

As much as I need to be with someone who can communicate their feelings to me openly I know that I’m a shitty communicator. I hate confrontation and I wait until I’m going crazy to bring something up. I grew up in a house where passive aggression was the norm and I still have problems with it. Half the time I don’t realize it until it’s too late but I know that I’m not good at having constructive discussions.

 

I’ll admit it, I’m not the best with personal  hygiene. For the moment it’s because I’ve got serious medical issues but it still disturbs me. It’s tough not only to bathe but also to clean up after myself. I try not to go around being filthy but it’s still something I’m very self-conscious about. Not being able to clean up after myself really is what makes me feel the worst.

 

Overall I’d say I’m pretty positive – life is good and I’m headed in a good direction. I know there are plenty of good things about me and the other people in my life but there’s no growth without looking at what makes up our lives and what makes us unhappy though. I’m committed to making the best life for me that I can and that includes becoming the best person I can.

Categories: character flaws, commitments, crippled, reflection | Leave a comment

Get Me Out Of My Stuff!

I’ve posted before about when I moved to Las Vegas, cramming everything I owned into my car and driving 2,000 miles across North America. After surgery I’m having difficulty lifting and moving things and trying to keep my space tidy has intensified for me the dilemma of materialism.

At this point in my life I’ve consistently had more money and earning power than I’ve ever had before. (Key word is consistently) Even when I was a poor college kid, though, I would collect things. Whether it were cool plastic cups or Incredibles tee shirts I was always the queen of employee discounts and clearance sales – I was good at finding ways to find things that would express myself and make me smile.

Let me be clear – I wasn’t focused on showing my status by spending money, it was surrounding myself with things that expressed my likes, my point of view. I wasn’t a hoarder but it was similar I guess.

After I moved down here and had to keep carting my life around in my car with little or no money I came to appreciate not acquiring things. When I moved into my own two-bedroom apartment almost 3 years ago I didn’t have much in the way of furniture. I didn’t even have a TV. My need for furniture subsided and I slowly got focused on clothes.

I’ve got more clothes than I can wear. It’s still not about status – this time it’s more about an idea of “replacing”. I’ve gone down two dress sizes and had to buy new clothes a couple of times, so on top of “replacing” the things I’ve left behind I still feel like I need to replenish my clothes.

How many pairs of jeans does one girl need? How many shirts, dresses, sweatshirts are really vital to life? Over the last two or three years my self image has changed too. At first I went from being comfortable with being a curvy size 10-11 to feeling insecure in Vegas culture. I lost some weight and started to feel a little better about myself until I went through some unrelated issues and just stopped eating out of nerves. People commented on how sickly I looked and I honestly started to miss my curves. Now I’m at the point where I realize I’m on the doorstep of 30 but at the same time I really do look the best I ever have. I feel the best I ever have, save for that I currently can’t exercise much because of recovery.

Once I get a handle on how I see myself I don’t think I’ll need to keep buying things. I know that the clothes I wear won’t change me and what size I wear doesn’t determine my value. A small part of the problem is that I travel to Europe for work frequently and I feel the need to fit in. I’m starting to embrace the sexiness and maturity I finally feel and once I get a handle on that I think the rest will fall by the wayside.

Weeding out the toys, books, and cups is easy. Clothes are harder – I really need to get a handle on my self image and NOT use clothes shopping as self-discovery.

Categories: character flaws, getting old, reflection | Leave a comment

Never A Bride?

Today I was talking to Bill, a good old friend from high school and he asked me why I’m not married yet. Actually, he more specifically asked HOW I’m not married, not WHY.

Is it really a foregone conclusion that all girls want to grow up and get married? I know I did for the longest time, maybe even up until this year. I answered my friend as if he’d asked me WHY I’m not married – I work too much, I think I’m too independent and set in my ways anymore, I just don’t know. Now I’m really thinking about that HOW.

Nope, sorry

Nope, sorry

Growing up I dreamed about finding a mate and living happily ever after, staying together forever like my grandparents did. As I grew up and dated I’ll admit that I did rush to think “Is he The One?” and usually I was too excited to answer myself honestly. That’s part of growing up though, trying different flavors and finding out what you do and don’t like and why. Bill has known me through all of these periods, especially on my journey out to the desert to follow our other friend Ogre because he was the love of my life. Naturally you think I would have settled down already.

It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities. I dated a guy very seriously in college and we wanted to get married, but when he wanted to buy me a ring and propose I asked him not to because we had bills to pay. Even though I still loved him and still planned on a future together, he saw that request as me not loving him enough. I saw my decision the other way around – sacrificing something pretty for food, clothing, shelter and a promise that we can stick together through thick and thin. Things went south in a nasty, drug-fueled break-up later that Fall. Still, I kept hope that I would find a mate.

What the EFF was I thinking?

What the EFF was I thinking?

The turning point might have been two and a half years ago when my relationship with J went sour. After Ogre and I went our separate ways I met J online and after a few spurts we started dating. We started dating seriously, a really passionate thing early on and he even started talking about getting married. I didn’t see it then, but looking back I see how expertly he played me. I let him manipulate me – I thought I was pretty smart and I’m insecure enough to blame myself for the stupid shit he would do to me.

Let me get to the turning point. Somewhere in this disgusting tale J told me his ex was having his kid in the Fall, started cheating on me and I was testing the waters by leaving – my dumb ass didn’t just pick up and go outright. I went to see my younger brother in San Diego since he’d just gotten back from deployment and this was a huge problem with J. I went, I came back, we stupidly had sex.

Without getting into the sordid details my period was a few days late so I used it as an opportunity to play a farewell FUCK YOU and tell J I was pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant, he didn’t know – but the fake pregnancy and miscarriage I used to fuck with this guy’s head turned out to ACTUALLY be something. After this shit was over I went to the doctor and explained what happened, the specialist said it was most likely a miscarriage. Go figure. (Yes I know this was fucked up – it’s the only time I’ve ever done something that crazy, and after all the shit this bastard put me and his family through I thought it was justified.)

Oh no...

Oh no…

This really screwed up my head. Any crack whore or high school teenager can get pregnant and have a baby. Ridiculous women get married all the time. How is it that my body can’t keep a fetus alive and I can’t keep a relationship going for more than 8 months? I live a pretty healthy life. I’m college-educated, I have a good job. What the FUCK is wrong with me?

In the end I think I’ve dealt with this like I’ve dealt with my shitty family relationships and I’ve just swept it under the rug. I sincerely enjoy my job, I have my health to look after with the injury; I don’t think this whole settling down thing is really a priority anymore.  I’ve looked out for number 1. I’ve done what I thought was best for me and the people around me, and in the end I think I’ve just shot myself in the foot. Bill says that the right person is out there and it will happen – I’m not sure I want it to though. I always feel guilty when I do what I feel is necessary to take care of myself, I don’t know that I want to drag someone else in.

What’s the conclusion here? I don’t think there is one. I’m blessed enough to have some wonderful people in my life, especially ones who take care of me. I know that I’m a good person and my self-esteem isn’t an issue, I guess I just haven’t learned to trust other people to have my best interest at heart, or I don’t trust myself to make tough decisions about what I do and don’t need in my life. I don’t handle people very well. Maybe once I learn to do that settling down will happen.

Categories: character flaws, commitments, getting old, reflection | Leave a comment

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