Monday, January 19, 2015
Thursday, November 20, 2014
In the office, editing a spreadsheet, I'm listening to a podcast to make the days tolerable, as I have most days since my favorite coworker left. It's an old This American Life, as I've listened to all the recent ones: this one, from 1996. An episode called "Get Over it." It's about people getting over things, break-ups and deaths so far in the episode. Ira said something in the beginning about how you can't will it to happen, you can't know when it's going to happen. He related it to a passage in the bible about how the date of Jesus' return will not be known until it happens.
Then, there's this really sad story by George Saunders, about a man trying to get over his wife's death, doing so by throwing himself into the caretaking of an old widow. I won't get too much into it-- you should listen to it if you find yourself with the time-- but it's a somewhat sci-fi/futuristic story (except evidently written in and set in 1992, so think "alternative reality" futuristic rather than actual futuristic), so the method that he eventually uses to get over his wife's death and help provide for the old woman is a little...Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind.
There's so many directions I want to go in reaction to this piece, all interelated, all could be part of the same "This American Life" episode: they all have the same theme. But, like in "This American Life", they are all different stories.
My first reaction, the one that inspiried me to write this, was to the little clip of song they played after the story. My ears perked as I realized I knew the song, but not well: something I'd heard many times, but in a relatively short period of my life. As I tried to place it, the irony dawned on me: the song was from a mix tape given to me by someone that I cared very much for at the time, who I forced myself to get over by not letting myself think of him or what we had.
The idea of forcing myself to get over someone-- of not just openly and vulnerably letting myself feel whatever I feel-- is generally so foreign to me that the whole process of doing it was not entirely unlike a real-life version of this story: I had a life to save, or a way of life: not just mine, not just mine and Zack's, but his, and his family's. I had the greater good to consider. So I, in the only time in my life I ever mustered the will to do this, forced myself just to not think about him or acknowledge any lingering feelings.
It worked to the extent that I don't even know how accurate what I'm typing is. I know that I was much more strict about the process than I'd ever been before or since, but I don't know if that's truly what I can attribute the success to. I look back now, and, I know full well that I had deep feelings for him, but it's not clear to me the exacts of how or why. It seems to foreign to me now. Would I have been able to shut him out had I not already been fairly far into the process of getting over him? Or was it the process of shutting him out that makes me feel like I was over him, I must have been, I don't even know how strong my feelings were in the first place?
The reality of this, like the memories of the man in the story, is now lost to the ether.
There was a point I wanted to make about how Dan and I used to argue over how good a movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" was. I think, in the end, I made the point that there were far too many parallels to mine and Zack's relationship for me to find the movie anything but disturbing and sad. I forget my exact points...maybe I'll find and post the piece of conversation, sometime. I think it was mostly online.
I tried to write a post last night that somewhat related to all of this, but then, Dan came into the room. He was making a good-faith effort to check in with me before bed time, something I've asked him to do in order to help me to feel like we're really a couple, and not just a pair of co-parents who live together. I wasn't really in a good place to appreciate his effort though-- I'd been in a bad mood all day, and it felt, often, like he was oblivious to that.
The conversation we had, as is so often the pattern, started out benign, but quickly became a tour of all the different ways we fail each other as a couple: he often feels unappreciated, which is hard to combat, because, I often don't appreciate him. I often feel like he's disappointed in me, which is hard for him to combat because, in his words, "I think you try, I think you do the best you can. But I don't think that'll ever be enough to meet my standards."
So, there's the rub: I don't appreciate him, he's disappointed in me.
At least, it's part of the rub. I don't know how much of the rub it is. I don't even know if it's most of the rub, or the biggest piece of the rub. And I've said "rub" one too many times.
I'll end with what I managed to write last night before he came in and interrupted:
"I find neuroscience fascinating, and it's a fascinating time for it. They're doing all these image studies now-- using an FMRI to track the way a brain will actually physically change in response to events in a person's life. Actual, scientific evidence of the way a traumatized person's brain will respond to therapy, showing how parts that are overactive gradually become calmed overtime. Visual evidence to show that meditation strengthens pathways that allow one to access serenity. And whatever the third thing in my list would be if I were more well-versed on the topic. (I tried to look something up figuring, hey, a rhetorically satisfying list should have three examples. But then I got really bored, really fast. Evidently, I don't actually find neuroscience THAT fascinating.)
So, any neuroscientists out there, here's my suggestion for an experiment. Prove or disprove the following hypothesis: the brain changes after great heartbreak, making it actually, physically impossible to love the next person as much as you loved the first. Prove or disprove the idea that you'll never again feel anything like your first love."
So. A whole different piece of the rub. On with it.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
I remember somewhere in there, I said that I'd feel some kind of satisfaction when I finished. Something about it not being super gratifying, but still, some since of satisfaction that I saw it through.
Actually, I think I just implied that satisfaction, in this case, would not really be satisfaction at all, but the avoidance of whatever negative feeling I would have if I didn't do what I said I would. Yeah, that seems about right.
It's a pretty empty feeling.
Writing isn't going to ever be what it was to me, all of my life, if I do it like this. If I try to fit it into some tiny chunk of time I have before I go to bed, knowing full well that every extra word adds to my growing sleep debt. If I have to keep myself level because I don't have the time an energy to get upset. If I have to avoid really getting into anything, really having any chance to process anything, because of that.
Dan and I got into something the other day-- I was pretty sure it was yesterday but now I'm thinking maybe the day before-- and sometime in the processing between that fight and the next (it must have been the day before, because I remember writing yesterday that we weren't actually fighting), I explained to him that I need for him to try to read my signals a little better, so that we can avoid me crossing a line of emotion after which I become useless for a while, after which all I can do is try to process that emotion.
That can be a very time-consuming thing. I suppose it feels like my posts are going to be subpar so long as I'm trying to avoid getting into this long, winding diatribe where I figure out some kernel of truth inside of my emotions. I'm not the type of person who can just open something up and then close it off again: once it's out there, it's staying out there. Until I've gotten something out of it.
Dan and I are fighting again. You may have been able to tell from my cheery tone. I suspect he thinks we're fighting because he disagreed with me. I suspect he thinks I'm mad that he disagreed, and that he's mad that I didn't react well to that.
It's true, I didn't react well. It was one of those disagreements where the other person's position is so shocking and offensive to you, but only because they're you're partner. It's not that you couldn't respect the opinion coming out of a stranger or a friend or whatever. It's that, you can't see how you managed to find yourself in a relationship with someone who feels that way.
And yeah, I don't like that feeling. But I'm not MAD at him for it. That's not what I'm fighting about.
I'm fighting because, as I could tell that the conversation was getting me upset, I started to try to give him clues that it was, to prompt him to remember the conversation we had-- just two short days ago-- where I asked him to be aware if I'm getting agitated and pull back. I even said to him that I needed him to tread lightly.
I don't know if he tried. I suspect he would argue that he did. I don't know if I'd believe him if he said that.
Our fight the other day ruined the whole night, and then, last night was also bad, though not in a fighting way. So it was in this really desperate feeling that I couldn't possibly take it a third night in a row that I lost it and just interrupted him before the conversation could continue to upset me.
I wasn't tactful, I was just trying to get out of it before it escalated and farther. But then he snapped at me for disrespecting him or something like that. I don't know. Either way, he was demanding something out of me I couldn't give-- an apology or something like that. I can't do that when I'm not sorry, and I really, really wasn't. I don't think I am now.
There was something else I asked him to do, the night before last, something else he ignored tonight: I am sensitive. I do get upset. I am emotional where he is unemotional. I get triggered easily, very possibly a side-effect of the PTSD we both know I am suffering from, and when that happens, it can be hard to control my emotions, and his lack of ability to see that happening makes everything worse. So I asked him, the other night, to try, in the future, to cut me some slack when it happens. Let some things slide. Not take everything to heart.
The night I asked, he seemed to think it was a perfectly reasonable request. This evening, it seemed like he seemed to ignore it.
I walked away because there was nothing else to do. He wasn't going to get me to say "I'm sorry" because I genuinely wasn't, and I wasn't willing to let another night get lost in another fight.
Now we don't seem to be talking. A lot of times, I just think it's better that way.
Things were going...slightly better for a while. I don't know if it's that I was mediating for a while there, or if it had something to do with the fact that things were going really well with my job and I was happier than I had been, at least in that regard. Maybe it's something hormonal, maybe it's that I haven't been sleeping. Or maybe, just maybe, the difference him. It's not like he's going to be the one to volunteer that this could be something to do with his moods and state of mind, so I guess I'm going to have to.
He's down the hall and I can hear him typing on his computer, and it's going to make it impossible to sleep. When I fight with my partner, I can't really deal with the tension their presence brings me; I need to be as far away as physically possible. I can't live with someone I fight with this much.
We've tried fighting less. It's not clear that that's working. I don't know when the next phase happens.
Day 30. It's not pretty, but there it is.
Alright, people. I'll see you the next time I have something of interest to say. Hopefully in a few days or so.
On with it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Today is the penultimate day of my 30-day blogging challenge. "Penultimate" is one of those big vocabulary words that Dan likes to throw around whenever possible, which is a trait I find super annoying. It seems to be a family trait: I remember his brother once used the word "disaggregated" in some sort of casual, non-scientific, non-data-set conversation. A conversation where "separated" would have made a lot more sense, if I remember correctly.
His brother is a graduate of Yale Law. Really smart, really successful person. Clearly knows a lot of big words. But I think theres a little more to be said for knowing when not to use them.
Opening this entry with an attack on Dan's curious and pretentious vocabulary choices, however, is a misleading choice on my part, especially where yesterday's entry somehow meandered into rant territory about an argument we'd had. Dan and I are not arguing tonight. Tonight, I am suffering from a general malaise.
Or rather, I am suffering from a malaise most closely associated with some changes at work that I don't feel at liberty to write about freely in any context that might be tracked back to me, pseudonym or not. I don't think anyone's looking, but it wouldn't be particularly hard to figure out who I really am from this, or to find this if you were looking for things about who I really am. If that makes sense. Regardless, my work life has changed, very suddenly, and has become significantly less enjoyable and fulfilling for me.
I can live with this, except that enjoying my work life was a really important distraction from the fact that I don't really enjoy my home life.
I don't do well on any day where I don't get a good chunk of time sitting in front of the TV while eating: most nights it's dinner. Tonight, dinner got rushed and was sub-par and we ended up watching a particularly disappointed episode of the daily show: two of three, well, thirds of it were really disappointing, so, assuming the first, Jon-Stewart-covers-headlines-directly-to-the-audience part was fine, I probably got all of seven minutes of my rejuvenative food-TV ritual in, and it was heavily interrupted by both the baby and the dog. So maybe that's the real source of my dourness.
I suspect, as I so often do, a hybrid of things.
To salvage what's left of the very little time before I really should be asleep, I'll probably curl up with my phone and search the internet for some way to feel more interactive with Serial, the new spinoff podcast from This American Life. Are you listening to it, imaginary reader? It's so good, so addictive.
I don't want to waste my time explaining it. Just google it. Or better yet, just download the first 7 episodes, which are currently available. You have to listen to them in order, it's an ongoing story. I'm too tired to give you a hyperlink, maybe I'll edit in later.
Day 29. The penultimate day. If you were to disaggregate this body of work, you'd get 29 separate posts so far.
On with it.
Alchemy and Pretention
Having gotten a terribly piddling amount of sleep last night, I intended to go to bed nice and early tonight.
Then Dan and I got into an argument about something that wasn't really an argument, but activated all of my argument-nerves or whatever, and then spent an hour processing and discussing that, which then, inevitably, moved into another argument. And now, at midnight, here I am, with a post still to write.
Sleep. The first casualty of an unhappy relationship.
Part of me wants to go off in this direction: talking about how strange it is that Dan and I are this bad even when we're not that bad at all, and you, figuring out what the hell I mean by that. Talking about the point I was making about how he writes off a lot of my behaviors as abnormal when they're really just female, and then talking about how he gets frustrated by my use of "stereotypes" and "generalizations." Talking about how I honestly can't stand people who play the "stereotypes" and "generalizations" card: there are legitimate differences between (most) men and (most) women. These differences evolved from having very separate biological functions and everything that goes along with that.
By and large, the men in my life understand this and accept it as fact. There are many women in my life that don't. (I'm sure I'm misrepresenting them here. So, blah blah blah, sociology, socialization, insert their whole argument here. It's not an invalid argument. But it's my blog, and I'm the one who has to get to sleep, so I don't want to spend twenty minutes here playing devil's advocate in full, fair representation of a whole group of feminists who will never read this.)
My point, I guess, the point I was trying to get around to NOT making, is this: women and men are biologically different, for very important reasons. That biology is incredibly powerful. In this, and in all things, it frustrates me when people put on airs and think that we have somehow transcended our biology. We have not. We are animals. We are the sum of our animal parts, and we our driven by our chemicals and hormones and the instincts they create. Don't be pretentious: we are just mammals that wear fancy clothes and walk upright.
I am a feminist in so much as I don't think there is any moral righteousness in acting one way because you were born that way. But I do think that some things are fundamentally more feminine, and some things are fundamentally more masculine. Large emotional range? That's a pretty feminine trait, in my mind.
This is all totally separate from the only thing I actually meant to come on here to write, which was this interesting point I made about economics. Dan and I were in an argument-- or actually, in a post-argument discussion-- about money. He was making the point (roughly, and this wasn't the whole thing) that money is math, and that math has a right and wrong answer.
I made the counter point that money isn't math: money is economics. And then I made the point that I've tried to make to many people, many times, since I stumbled upon an understanding of it, somewhere during the first hundred episodes of NPR's Planet Money Podcast: Economics isn't solely about money. Economics isn't solely about math.
Economics it about worth, it's about value. It's about what one will trade on one side to gain on the other side. I remember once that my uncle was saying that he would be willing to buy a hybrid if his company would give him an economic incentive for doing so. I told him that he already had plenty of economic incentive, beyond the financial, if he cares about the other benefits of driving a hybrid: namely cleaner air and water and earth and blah blah blah. (And yes, for the rare reader who might quibble here, I get that the environmental benefits of a hybrid are highly controversial when considering the production of the battery, etc.. Not my point here: stay on task, imaginary, haughty environmentalist reader!)
My point to my uncle was that economic benefit is not the same as financial benefit, because any and all positive effects of driving a hybrid might help to equal out the equation where he decides to spend more on buying one. Little to know, I was barking up the wrong tree-hugger: my uncle, it seems, votes Republican, and all the stunning environmental polices that go along with it.
But back to what I said earlier. I was explaining to him that money is not math, money is economics. It's not about numbers as much as it is about obtaining balance. It's about equivalent exchange.
Economics isn't math. Economics is alchemy.
I'm sure any future economists who wander into this post equally likely to nod in thoughtful agreement or vomit. But any Full Metal fans who stop by will probably be so excited they squirt their juice boxes all over their Pokemon cards, so I got that going for me. (Someone remind me to make a mash-up illustration of John Maynard Keynes with an automail arm. That level of obscurity would gain me some serious points with like, one Econ major in a suburb of Cincinatti.)
Either way, as I said it, it occurred to me it sounded a little profound. So I thought I'd write a post about it.
I, too, wear fancy clothes and walk upright. So sue me.
Day 28. On with it.
Sunday, November 09, 2014
The Old Team
Tomorrow, I am meeting with my ex-coworker from my current job. I'm excited to see her, as she was the one person I managed to get very close to in my first three months of the job, and it would be good to make a go at being friends in earnest. But I fear what happens all too often: that the longer separated professionally, the less we will have to talk about. Ex-work relationships tend to happen that way.
I still hold a very dear place in my heart for everyone I worked at Borders with: it was, by far, my longest-lasting job, and I worked their from before the store opened till after the store closed. We had our fair share of scary-crazy types, and I had one too many run-ins with them. But overall, I felt that we forged a kind of family. Somehow, all of these years later, I still feel like that.
I wondered, the other day, what would happen if someone miraculously re-opened the store and everyone who worked their before worked their again-- like the way Nathan Fillion describes how quickly all of the actors from Firefly would go back if someone bought the rights to the show and rebooted it. Would I take the job back?
The short answer is that I couldn't possibly afford to, in the way I worked their before, and I suspect most of my co-workers on the same page. I like to think most of us are making at least a little more than we were then, though I know that's not necessarily the case for the salaried management. When I was a supervisor there, I believe I was making $10.45 an hour. When I quit management to go back to school and worked as a Bookseller, I think it got knocked down about a dollar-fifty. It's really sad to think of how many of my coworkers were making way less than that fairly miserable amount.
I make a living wage now-- nothing spectacular, but enough that I could support myself, modestly, if Dan and I were no longer together. (There's this whole rant about how frustrating it would be for me that Dan, who makes about the same amount that I do, would have it so much easier because he has no debts or bills thanks to parental intervention, but it's neither here nor there.) It probably won't be long before I begin to itch for more, but it's a decent living, or what passes for one nowadays.
If the fantasy Borders team got back together, I would definitely be on-board as a part-timer, though. At least one day a week, even if I did have to commute all the way back to Brunswick. It would honestly be so good for my social life just to be there again, with that group of people.
I had every intention of staying in contact with the old crew, and I guess I've maybe done better than most. I've gone out of my way to drop in on people like Holly and Jasmine, and stayed, albeit sparsely, in contact with Andrea and Bill on Facebook. Jim and I manage to get together for an hour or so every couple of months.
But, even still, we talk almost exclusively about the old days. How much we miss people. How great it would be to go back. If we're still getting together a few times a year in ten years, will we still be talking about this one job we once had?
In my perfect world, Jim, Andrea and I would form a team to meet at a bar in Topsham or something for a weekly Trivia night. We'd invite everyone who worked at the old place and they'd show up whenever they could, fleshing out our team with a Tara one week and a Bill the next. A few good friends, a couple of drinks, and the weird amalgam of knowledge that one gains in working at a book store for years.
We'd be unstoppable.
Day 27. On with it.
Saturday, November 08, 2014
Apparently, November is NaBloPoMo, which stands for "National Blog Posting Month" or some such nonsense. The idea is that people who are participating are supposed to write a blog post every day in November.
Well, that's bad timing.
My final day of my thirty days of posting is slated to be over on the twelfth. Under different circumstances, I'd be tempted to keep going until the end of November in order to participate, but, honestly, this has been a truly frustrating journey. Yesterday's post is a prime example of what happens when you make yourself write when you have nothing to say and no desire to, which is fine if it's merely for the writerly practice of writing a little every day. But if I were going to buy into that "great writers write every day" garbage, I wouldn't do it publicly. I don't want people who wander onto this website to think I'm some insipid moron. Yesterday's post, and many others I've produced like it, are the blogging equivalent to instagramming pictures of your breakfast. And, I mean if your breakfast were really mundane.
And for the record, I don't think great writers (or anything else) necessarily do anything. I think different people achieve greatness different ways. And most people don't at all, I suspect.
As I write this, I am sick in bed and very much want to attempt sleep. I had just cozied myself and was shutting off the light when I realized that there was a considerable chance that my attempt at sleep would lead to actual sleep, given that I've spent the last 18 hours refraining from eating anything that might bother my stomach and running back and forth the bathroom, and then my streak would be ruined. So I forced my shaky, achy, hot-and-cold self to pick up the laptop.
The reality is, for me, forcing myself to do anything every day is doomed to eventual failure. I guess the question I need to ask myself is whether that's okay, something I can just accept about myself, or if it's a shortcoming stemming from my lack of self-discipline, that I should attempt to overcome for the good of, well, everything.
A question for another day, I suppose, when the threat of throwing up on my keyboard isn't quite so clear.
Day 26. On with it.
Friday, November 07, 2014
Uninspired Writing. I Wouldn't Bother, If I Were You.
I am not drunk. The Jolly Rancher infused vodka was not good.
There is some speculation that it would be improved by more Jolly Ranchers, since it seemed to suffer from insufficient sweetness.
Either way, I am once again suffering from insufficient sex.
Or, rather, not really tonight. This week has been such a clusterfuck that I am not really let down by the last of sex tonight. But, still, the pressure continues to build.
I've gained a couple pounds back of the weight I had lost when I was focusing more on exercise and less on everything else. I feel really badly about my body again, which I guess is good, since self-hatred seems to be the only motivation that really works for me.
Meditation has also gone, more or less, by the way side. I have been incorporating some of the mindfulness practices I've learned here or there, but I haven't really been sustained. I'm thinking more seriously now about combining the two goals and working with walking mediation. I guess the idea would be, 10 minutes of walking mediation, and then, after that, keep walking for another 45 minutes or so with an audiobook or something. The key is to let myself off the hook a little about the unsustainable exercise that I can't possibly do every single day. But I would like to start getting to the gym again, at least a few times a week.
My fear is that walking will only get me as far as maintaining my weight, and that I won't be able to lose anymore. What I want to do is lose five pounds at a time, then take lengthy maintaining breaks in between. I'd rather not deal too much with the frustration of plateauing.
This whole post feels useless. No one will want to read this, and, more importantly, future me will not find this interesting, either. I'm going to end this one short. Let it just be what it is: day 25.
On with it.
Thursday, November 06, 2014
Sleep and Intimacy
There are a lot of reasons why Dan and I don't sleep together.
- We're both large people, so a queen bed really doesn't cut it for us.
- Our pre-sleep habits clash. He likes to watch videos on his cell phone while he's lying it bed. That either throws off my ability to sleep, or whatever it is I'm trying to do. Which sort of lends itself to...
- I really need to be functionally alone as I'm falling asleep. When I was with Zack, this was accomplished by the fact that he fell asleep easily and was a very heavy sleeper. Lying in bed next to him was not significantly different, most of the time, from being alone. This is very different with Dan, who will be awake next to me for a very long time doing his own (usually loud) things, and then continue on to be a relatively light sleeper. I do a lot of "processing" in bed at the end of the day, and I being around a waking person for this is extremely unsettling for me.
- He talks in his sleep. It should be said that this has only been an actual problem fairly rarely. But where sleep is at a premium now, between the baby and the dog waking us up and both of us needing to wake up early, I imagine it would quit being cute very quickly if we still slept together.
- At current, I just don't feel intimate enough with him to sleep next to him.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Fight or Flight
Today was a particularly bad day. But not in the normal way.
My normal bad days consist of stress that builds up and wears me down until there's possibly an explosion, or until I wish for an explosion. Babies crying, dogs barking, work piling up, trying to get something in that matters to you but having to give up on it because there's just no time, energy, point. Fighting with Dan because that's what stress does to you, it literally puts your body in fight or flight mode, and flight isn't an option.
Those or my normal bad days. They are more days than not, at least on some level.
Today was a...helpless, sad bad day. Today, there was nothing I could do about the results of the election, all of which were sad and disappointing. There was nothing I could do about the funeral of the woman who died who I mentioned a few post's ago, or the man who loved her walking around all day in his black suit. There was nothing I could do for the coworker that I am close to will no longer be working with me. There was nothing I could do about the news that my parents are both experiencing medical concerns. And there was nothing I could do about the fact that Zack may no be flying out here for Christmas, due to budget and schedule constraints.
So I was just sad.
No barking dogs, no crying babies. No work that I cared enough to stop from piling up. No ambition to accomplish anything that I didn't end up being able to accomplish. I had no responsibilities, no duty to fight. I was just sad.
Tomorrow, things will likely go back to the normal kind of bad. At work, I will have to help with my coworker's responsibilities. Politically, the numbness will subside and I'll feel like it's time to start fighting again. The baby will cry. The dog will bark. I might feel so overcome by my sadness at Zack not being able to come for Christmas that I start scheming up ways to pay for his ticket.
It will all be stressful. It will all get my heart pumping and my adrenaline racing. I will be fighting for my life.
I guess, at the moment, the helplessness feels like respite. Nothing to do, but just be sad.
Day 23. One week left. On with it.