Retreat

I’m sitting here, working the fringe benefits allocation and the FICA allocation, and it is taking all of my willpower not to just get up and walk out. I’m not talking about quitting. I’m talking about Just Not Being Here, and I’m not just talking about work. I’m talking about everything.

If I had a magic wand, I would move a week of my vacation time during the holidays to next week. I would spend the next ten days in complete and utter solitude. At home. With the dog.

The exhaustion that I’m suffering right now seems endless. I can’t hardly keep my eyes open, even after a full night’s sleep. I could sleep for a week, I think, before I felt better.

As someone who has stood on the very edge of sanity and looked over the ledge, I can tell you that while I’m okay in the sense that I’m not a danger to myself or other people, I am losing my mind.

There’s a paranoia welling inside me. I take things the worst way possible. When people speak to me, I question their motives. I question their loyalty and allegiance. When I don’t hear from someone, they’re ignoring me, they don’t care anymore, they don’t want me bothering them. When I do hear from someone, I feel pressured. I hate the constant stream of panic and frustration I’m dealing with right now, and I hate exposing people to it. I don’t want to spend all of my free time completely alone, but I fear companionship. I fear making a fool of myself, I fear being talked about behind my back, I’m afraid of becoming- no, I’m afraid that I’ve already become that person, that girl, the subject of irritation and pity and duty.

The slightest imposition, say, my boss expecting me to do my job, or a coworker needing some information, or a two minute chore for my second job- these things make me seethe with resentment and I’m overwhelmed by the pressure to perform and not let this ordeal affect my performance. I don’t want to go to school, and I don’t want to do my homework, and I don’t want to read my textbooks.

So the only thing that gives me comfort right now, that brings me a sense of calm and well-being, is retreating. Hiding from my life, its pressures and demands. Giving up on my social life in hopes that my attachment to people will fade, so that everything can end quietly and be easy for everyone and I can avoid the humiliation and drama that will come from figuring out that people are rolling their eyes at me and hoping I don’t show up to parties and not telling me about events on purpose.

If I have to calm my Mom down one more time, I’m going to quit taking her calls. I know she’s worried, and I know that she’s going to rightfully react with anger when she feels I’ve been wronged, but her energy is AWFUL, HORRIBLE and TOXIC (see, it runs in the family! i just have the sense to see and admit it), and I. CAN’T. HANDLE. IT.

People want to know what’s going on, and I want to tell them, but I get tired of relaying the same awful information over and over and over again, and I want them to want to know, but I find myself wishing that there was just some way to make them know without having to talk about it ALL THE TIME.

I’ve grown to hate talking on the phone. I wish that people would just come see me, come sit on the porch and have a drink and talk about what color I should paint the living room and whether or not we’ll have a lot of snow this winter and what are you doing for the long weekend. My house is pretty far out from town, though, and people don’t come out. A few people come out sometimes, but for the most part, I don’t have company.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish these entries and call my HR rep and see if I can’t plan a retreat, before I end up in a straitjacket in the psych ward.

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Manpon

Recent events led me to list “men who act like girls” on a recent Facebook note, under pet peeves. I’m all for the evolution of the male gender into more expressive and emotional creatures, and don’t misunderstand- I love men. This is by no means a man-hating post. They know  stuff I’m clueless about, some of them are cute and smell good, they’re funny and entertaining in general. This post is a plea for more masculinity and maturity. My tolerance for moodiness, hand-wringing, and lack of confidence in men is nonexistent. Too much of this behavior destroys my respect and affection with a quickness.

Talk to Me.

I don’t expect men to communicate with the depth and frequency that women do. Perhaps a good rule for men to follow: if something is bothering you, and it’s affecting the way you deal with other people, you might make them aware of it. Have a problem with me? Have an opinion about me? Want something from me? Need something from me? Need or want less of something from me? Just let me know, already. No amount of mixed signals is going to convey your message. I’m a big girl- I can handle the truth, if I know what it is. Are you a big enough man to tell me? For fuck’s sake, when you do tell me, don’t apologize for it. Don’t simper and whine. Own it. It’s your thought/feeling/problem/opinion/need/request, and if it’s important enough to drive your behavior, it’s important enough to put out there in words, and it’s important enough to be heard and considered. You men should be well aware that fishing is best done in the water and nowhere else.

Make Up Your Mind

I am the Queen of Indecision. I understand the need to review your options, consider your circumstances, and try to predict outcomes. I’m a talker, so I understand gathering opinions and talking through your own thoughts and feelings. There comes a time, however, when you just have to make up your mind and lay your bets. Preferably, you’ll do this before I get tired of listening to you analyze it. God help you if I’m waiting for you to make a decision that affects me, because my patience with your hand-wringing just left town. That’s probably the quickest way to get me out of your hair. If you take too long to decide on something I’m involved with, I’m likely to make your decision for you, if you catch my drift.

Be Confident, or at least Fake It Till You Make It

I’m not referring to the occasional bout of self-doubt we all suffer or the fine line between confidence and arrogance. I will say that I have a higher tolerance for arrogance than self depreciation. Whether we’re family, friends, or otherwise involved, people want to be around people that have something to offer, that bring something to the table. So be proud of what you bring to the table. Also, when you talk yourself down to me, I feel your need to be dis proven or argued out of your self-doubt. Again, fishing is done in rivers. Not in conversation. I can’t convince you of your worth, and I’ll spend not another hot minute of my life trying to do that for anyone. When you tell me that you, your job, your house, your hobbies, your whatever is “nothing special”, you’ve just told me I’m wasting my time talking to you. At the very least, you’re wasting your life away working and doing and keeping “nothing special”. Don’t apologize for complimenting me. How simpering and weak. If you admire my writing, tell me. If you admire my figure, tell me. Then don’t apologize for telling me. I don’t know if other girls aren’t good at accepting compliments or what, but you may as well have not complimented me if you feel the need to apologize immediately afterward. If you’re behaving in this way because you’re intimidated by me somehow, then we’re both wasting our time. So go find someone you can talk to like a man.

You’re the Hunter, Not Me

I won’t chase men. I may get a little too direct, friendly or responsive when I’m attracted to someone, but in general, you need to do the pursuing or we will never get anywhere. I’ll look at you from across the room, catch your eye and smile. I’ll continue a conversation you start. You’ll know during that conversation whether or not I’d be willing to have another conversation with you, say, over dinner or coffee. I won’t give you my number, more than likely, unless I’ve accepted a date from you. Why? Because I don’t want to give you my number and then receive random half-hearted and grammatically horrific text messages. “wold like to cu sometimes” “ur hot” “ur beyond belief” “i has no girlfriend”. My response, whether you receive it or not, is: UR SUCH A NEUTERED IDIOT. Ask me if I’d like to something specific within a specific time frame if you’re going to ask me out. I’m worth the effort, and I need to know that you are willing and capable of making at least that much of an effort before I invest any time in you. Of course, you won’t do that if you’re just trying to get me into bed…..

Can You Handle It?

If you are just trying to get me into bed, you’ll have to be twice as confident and charming, because you’re trying to convince me to make a bigger investment with little to no return on investment after the deed is done. You’re not going to get anywhere unless I’m as sure as possible that you are respectful, discreet and mature enough to handle such an arrangement.  I’ve seen many men screw up a casual sex arrangement with a girl because they felt compelled to treat her like a leper or a piece of trash, lest she start hearing wedding bells. Some women actually mean what we say when we say we don’t want a relationship. When you pointedly treat us like stalkers or trash, you kill the chemistry that created the environment for the arrangement in the first place.

Men, please take these words to heart. Grow up, get smart, and be MEN. I thank you, my friends thank you, women everywhere thank you.

/rant

Alone

With all of my peeps at the beach, and the ex out of the house for the weekend, I’ve got a lot of alone time. I was running on a major deficit of alone time, so this is mostly a good thing. I notice the silence, the lack of drinking, dancing, laughing, and causing trouble, and it is just a little sad. Mostly, though, I’m thinking, dreaming, napping and planning. Soaking it up.

This is the calm before the storm, anyway, because school will be starting soon, and I will again be too busy to breathe or think.  I’m going a second round with Biology, if someone forgot to pay their tuition, and I’m also taking Intermediate Accounting (read: fourth ring of hell). I’m excited, though, to start classes again, and I think the Accounting class is on campus. Which is a double edged sword, but it will be good for me to be out and about.

This weekend? It’s lots of lists and reading, watching old movies, taking long, hot baths, and trying to figure out what my life will look like when the dust settles. When the lush green of summer fades to stunning fall color, and I am again the Queen of my castle.

TMI Thursday: In Which I Discover FWB

TMI Thursday

At the tender age of sixteen, I was hanging out with a group of people who were at least five years older than I was, which I would recommend highly to any teenager, so long as their parents aren’t around to hear me say it.

There was a guy in our little gang who was so handsome, so hot, so incredibly attractive that I was smitten the moment I saw him. As I got to know him a little better, I realized how wild he really was. He was passionate about everything, was a risk taker, was always pushing the envelope. He was the guy that you begged not to talk when the cops showed up, because it would only lead to unmitigated disaster.

I will explain at this point that this guy was Icelandic. He had white blond hair, ice blue eyes and chiseled everything. He was six foot tall and I only wish I had a picture, could post a picture, because my description doesn’t even do him justice. He was smokin’ hot.

So it happened that one night that we found ourselves quite drunk and rather alone. One thing led to another (as it so often does when one finds themselves quite drunk), and the next thing I knew, I was having sex with the hottest man to ever walk the Earth. Of course, because this is my life and not a Molly Ringwald movie, a very irritating chick who was visiting a friend from some other town interrupted us. Which killed the mood, because not two hours previously, she informed us that she was covered in little white bumps, which her doctor told her was a fungal infection she caught from the tanning bed.

It mattered little to me. I had taken advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime.

Until I realized that Fungal Infection told all of our friends what happened.

My girlfriends (again, these girls were at least five years my senior) were horrified with him. They asked me- “So are the two of you dating now?”, and I thought about it for a minute.

“No, I don’t really think so. I really don’t think he has any interest in dating me.”

“Then why did you sleep together? Why did he sleep with you? Why in the blue fuck did you sleep with him, then?”

“Um, because I could? Because I know that he’ll never date me, but who would turn him down?!”

I will admit, I was as confused as they were. I didn’t understand why they were so outraged. We’re friends, I have a huge crush on him, we got drunk, we had sex, end of story. Should I have not slept with him because I knew what was up? But then I never would have slept with the hottest man to walk the Earth, evar?

“This was so wrong of him. He knows how much you like him!”

Okay, but he didn’t tell me that he loved me? He didn’t say that we would be together. He just started nibbling on my ear, and I didn’t stop him. I encouraged him. It never occurred to me at any point to stop and say “hey, what are the chances of you ever buying me dinner”?!

He and I spoke about it once, briefly. He asked me if I understood that our little escapade was not the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I nodded. He asked me if I was okay with that, or if I felt taken advantage of. I told him that I was fine with it, that I would have loved to date him, but that I knew that was unrealistic, and had never really thought otherwise?

We remained friends for years afterward, and there were a few inappropriate moments peppered here and there, but nothing as glorious as that first night. I think he was afraid of my friends.

So that, my lovely freaders, is when I figured out a few important things:

Sex and love are two very, very different things, and you can have one without the other- in fact, I would gain to say that having the two of them together is something of a rare bird.

Women have to have a connection with a man to sleep with them, no matter what you try to tell me. If you don’t care about someone on a very basic level, it’s not happening.

That feeling that you get from having sex without love- that gnawing guilty/wanting to turn his spare bedroom into a nursery feeling? It’s biology, folks. In case you get knocked up. What do you do with that feeling? Acknowledge it and dismiss it. It’s not doing you any good unless you are, in fact, knocked up.

The ending of this story might be better than the story itself.

Two years later, when the ex and I crossed paths with this guy as a couple? We chatted idly for a few minutes, and he asked my new boyfriend if we were dating. When the ex confirmed that we were, he smiled, leaned over and said: “Good for you, man, you’ve got a live wire there…”

Not only did I sleep with one of the hottest men in the world, but I got a rave review.  Does it get any better than that?

Happy TMI Thursday!

Pictures v. Words

Supposedly, a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m not so sure.

Images are powerful. They are moments in time, captured forever, details crystallized. They project mood and tone, they express thoughts, feelings and beliefs. There is something in images that words lack, in that you can see a picture and react to it without words. Images can render words unnecessary.

Words, however, have a power all their own. So easily spoken or written, but for me, words are hard to forget. I may forget the details of your face, I may be unable to keep that mental image intact, but if you say something moving and powerful, I will never forget it. Which is a good and a bad thing, because as a wise friend points out, people underestimate the weight of their words.

Both images and words are subject to interpretation. The fact is that there isn’t anything in this world that we’re subjected to that we perceive objectively. We always add a little bit of our personal perception to what the world offers us. It’s a part of the human condition- to see what you want to see, to hear what you want to hear, to bend and twist sensory input to support our established beliefs and personal truths.

Men tend to find more meaning (and pleasure) in images. Visual creatures, they are. Women, on the other hand, respond more intensely to words. Why this is, I’m not entirely sure. I can take a guess, though, and say that perhaps women are more interested in words because they value that personal slant. When I share a photo, I want to share the photo, I want the other person to experience the image I’ve captured. The experience is incomplete for me, though, without understanding what the image means to the viewer. What do you see? How does it make you feel? What do you think about it? Those are all questions that women ask constantly, but in my experience, men rarely ask these questions. It seems as if they understand that the reaction exists, but they have much less interest in understanding it.

I’ve been told for a long time that women make men more complicated than they are. To some extent, I’m sure that’s true, because frankly, we women make a lot of things more complicated than they really are. We do it because we take into consideration the reaction of involved parties. Men seem to do this less. They are less concerned with how you feel about what is going on than what is actually going on. Such logical creatures, and I love them for it- I can always use some extra logic.

Images serve an important purpose, but I’ll take words over pictures any day. There’s a little piece of you in your words, and it’s harder to grasp, to digest, absorb and hold on to in an image.  In the end, your reaction is as important to me as the facts themselves. I guess I’m complicated that way.

Staycation Salad

  • Vodka + cream= trouble, even if it has Caramel Bailey’s in it and tastes really yummy.
  • Don’t let old guys buy you shots at the piano bar.
  • If you pack an overnight bag? Maybe you should see that you have it at the place where you spend the night.
  • The cell repeater is out at the house, so that’s why I’ve been kinda MIA this week.
  • Don’t give your bestie a bite of your rocky road ice cream if she’s allergic to walnuts. Killing the bestie= bad move.
  • Good friends will invite you out on the town. Excellent friends will put you to bed on the couch after.
  • Sometimes you can get away with parking in a tow zone.
  • Don’t break things in bar bathrooms. If you do accidentally break something? FLEE.
  • I have a personal fashion consultant now. No more buying clothes without prior approval. 😉 Particularly bikinis.
  • When your friends call you off of the couch, even if it’s your third night in a row, even if you can’t drink because you’re taking Sudafed for the sniffles, GO. Because street festivals only come once a year, and the next thing you know, you’re giggling over hashbrowns and thinking to yourself “Thank God I decided not to stay home and watch SATC reruns.”  😉
  • If you have so many family and friends checking in and checking up on you that you can’t hardly keep caught up on your correspondence? You’ve got better problems than most.
  • When your Auntie sends you pocket money, go get ice cream with a friend. Because that’s what pocket money is for.

Reprieve

Saturday was a bright and sunny day, a little cooler than it has been lately, but still perfect for a bonfire and a slip n’ slide party. My friends are not just wonderful people, they are also a hell of a good time.  We ate, we drank, we laughed and played, enjoying each others’ company and the thrill of recaptured youth.

If there is one thing I truly miss about being a child, it’s the constant feeling of presence. Children live in the moment. They don’t worry about the future or attempt to make sense of the past nearly as much as we adults do. It’s an unavoidable tragedy, losing the present, and the wisest among us do what they must to hold on to as much of it as they can. I had not grasped it for myself in far too long, long enough that I had forgotten what it felt like.

Relishing the warmth of the sun on my skin, and the rosy rush of vodka. The scent of my shampoo mixed with a hint of wood smoke. The spicy smell of bourbon. Flying through the air, weightless, free. Alive. Racing down a steep hill and landing hard, but not too hard. Chilly night air raising goosebumps on my arms. Laughter ringing all around me. A warmth that only the company of wonderful people provides. The light of the fire dancing across happy faces. A sense of awareness and presence that rang from the soles of my feet to the crown of my head like a bell, vibrating all the way through me and filling me with contentment and freedom, confidence and delicious uncertainty. A new breath of life and hope.

I woke up the next morning sore and bruised; a reminder not only of the fragile state of my youth but also our ability to set aside the complicated adult world and relish the moment, if only for a few precious hours.