Friday, December 14, 2012

On Romantic Love and the Duration Thereof

From my hero, describing the start of her romance with her husband:

"...But that same afternoon after my break-up, he told me he was going to walk to Wawa’s (the New Haven version of QuikTrip) to get a Coke, and did I want to come? I did. We walked to Wawa’s, then back to the law school, and sat on a bench beneath some blooming magnolia trees. He said something completely incoherent, then took my hand; this was the first time we ever touched. At that moment, if he’d asked me to marry him, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised, and I might well have said “Yes.” (We did get engaged several months later.)

Now, so many years later, is it the same? Yes and no. Yes, because I still love him passionately, and more deeply, because I know him so much better. No, because he’s passed through my heart and into my soul, and he pervades my entire life, so now sometimes it’s hard to see him. Married people are so intertwined, so interdependent, so symbiotic, that it’s hard to maintain that sense of wonder and excitement..."

And this:

"When we first met, I honestly wondered whether it would ever be possible for me to read when we were sitting in a room together; I found it so hard to concentrate that I couldn’t make sense of anything more complicated than the newspaper. Now, I find it hard to tear myself away from my work and my email to hold up my end of a marital conversation."

She and her husband love each other very much, I've no doubt, but I believe (from what I can tell of it so far) her description of making an ongoing life with another person is dead on. As always, her writing style is so naked and unashamed that it's like reading my own thoughts, only edited by, say, Sylvia Plath. Or possibly Anais Nin.  There's a great passage describing a sympathetic listener in "My Old Man and The Sea": "It's like going out to dinner with yourself." That's what Ms. Rubin does for me; she takes me out to dinner with myself.

Should your partner be able to do that for you as well? I'm not sure. That seems like a special skill that really a very few people have in this world; which means it may not be a practical requirement that you should look for in a life partner. I do believe strongly that your life partner should make you a better VERSION of yourself, but that's not necessarily the same as being the kind of sympathetic listener that attracts people to them like moths to a flame.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And on Sunday, 12/2/2012, I Became Entrepreneur's Dream Girl

See this device?

(Picture of HP Touchpad)

This is a sweet, 0.7 inch, 32GB touchpad piece of hardware that I got off Ebay for $230 bucks with shipping, including a fancy stand and a few other accessories.

The only problem: it's an HP. It runs webOS, which is faintly related to Palm. No apps, no support, no updates. It's basically a mobile web browser, which is a damn waste of 32GB of memory.

Solution: I hacked it, of course! I followed the instructions in (insert link) this link to install Android's Ice Cream Sandwich over the top of the webOS, and et voila: I have a sweet Android touchpad with 32GB of memory and a damn nice processor for less than $200, if you look at just the price I paid for the device. It was so easy that I can't really even consider it hacking, although I will take every opportunity to use that word anyway. (For comparison: the cheapest 10 inch Android tablet on the market right now is $399, and it has HALF THE MEMORY.)

I was so happy.

AND THEN. And then. There we were, cuddling on the couch, watching about 15 NCIS episodes in a row, your generally awesome Sunday evening, and it got to be about that hour and Entrepreneur and I were hungry. And we didn't necessarily feel like cooking anything. And so I pulled out my Android touchpad, downloaded the EAT 24 app, and made food happen. Within thirty minutes we had hot Indian food show up at our door, and I hadn't moved more than a few finger taps.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From the Twitter Feed

"Made the big HOME DEPOT run with Entrepreneur last night. Then bison burgers to celebrate...w. cheese seared by blowtorch. As you do."

Tri-tip, as always, had the perfect response: "Your experience last night was so manly that my chest hair grew another inch just be reading it."

I would like to point out that my own chest hair has not grown one iota, which is a little disappointing, but more importantly, as it should be.

I'd also like to point out that my boyfriend HAND-SEARS my choice of cheese on my bison burger, because he loves me. 

I'm just sad I didn't get any pictures of it. OR of all the friends we made at Home Depot last night! But I think that might have struck them as weird. ("Thanks for getting that quote together! Hey, can you go stand oh-so-casually by your computer and smile pretty for my Instagram feed?")

In related news, I may soon be taking many pictures of my car, because I have goblins in my engine block and my fan belt has started a squealing argument with them, and if it lasts for just the next week I can take enough time to actually figure out what I want to do with it, whether that's sell it or have it fixed AGAIN, since I just spent $1000 on it over the summer, or if I can attempt to fix it myself--which worked so well last time. (This time, though, I have my own garage! Hi, mom.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

More Pictures

See that rain BOUNCING off the sidewalk? Yeah. Hello, winter.

Now THIS is a way to deal with winter. In the lodge on the mountain.

Recent Saturday after Pilates. I ran so many errands and got so much done, yay! I now have armwarmers and fuzzy socks. Crucial for this upcoming season.

Also crucial for this upcoming season. Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Pictures! And Life.

It's important for me to remember that all the other blogs that I read--the ones that are updated daily and perfectly and are full of great content--are written by people who blog for a JOB. I have a day job, and it is NOT blogging. I'm lucky I can write and type so quickly in the first place, or else this blog would NEVER get updated! I can't decide which would worry my mother more: if this blog never got updated, or if it suddenly got updated ALL THE TIME.

Something to ponder.

Here are some pictures.

Did you know this? Me either! Hallelujah for the first vacation day I have had in months. Allows for all sorts of exploring.
I was shocked. SHOCKED I TELL YOU. Also: new hair color! AND new part. I switched sides for the first time in 31 years. (Almost 32!)
The Library. (Read: a delicious, and close, restaurant and bar.)
I wandered in there at 1:30 on a weekday and they made me breakfast ANYWAY.
I wish OUR warehouse looked this good.

Not so recent shot.

Titan was surprised by a bag of flour. He is unfazed, because the Boy is holding food in his hand. Also: the Boy needs new shoes.
Awww. Dawg.
Aren't these gorgeous?
Recent hiking trip with the Boy and his Mom.

Recent camping trip in which we ended up camping in the snow, not like I'm still bragging about that or anything.

 In other news, I'm trying to be patient as my cube mate is on the phone with the "Help" desk here at the Lazy B, because her email is "down". PEBKAC. But she is a very nice lady and I am trying to remember that.

In other OTHER news, the Boy and I got to go out to dinner (which we haven't done in awhile) with our friends Marisa and Brian (whom we ALSO haven't seen in awhile) and it was awesome. A grownup date, hooray, at one of our favorite local spots, hooray times two, for half price meals, AGAIN I SAY HOORAY!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Can't Get Me Down

Happy Thursday!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dawg is...

...exhausted by the hard work of protecting our perimeter.

Our NETWORK perimeter, that is.

I keep trying to tell him that viruses have no smell, but I'm not sure it's getting through. (Spot the pun!)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


America, I love you.

(This post is so cheating and I don't even care.)

And E, Entrepreneur, my boy, the light of my heart, who canvassed for the Human Rights Campaign when he could barely walk, YOU. You helped. You actually, measurably, HELPED CHANGE THE WORLD.

SO sexy.

Who says one person can't change the world?

Today, the world has been changed for everyone.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Where we camped

I think you might be interested in this track: Created by My Tracks on Android. Name: 10/20/2012 15:08 Activity type: - Description: - Total distance: 4.22 km (2.6 mi) Total time: 05:57 Moving time: 05:39 Average speed: 42.52 km/h (26.4 mi/h) Average moving speed: 44.83 km/h (27.9 mi/h) Max speed: 74.70 km/h (46.4 mi/h) Average pace: 1.41 min/km (2.3 min/mi) Average moving pace: 1.34 min/km (2.2 min/mi) Fastest pace: 0.80 min/km (1.3 min/mi) Max elevation: 786 m (2579 ft) Min elevation: 684 m (2244 ft) Elevation gain: 2 m (6 ft) Max grade: 2 % Min grade: -16 % Recorded: 10/20/2012 15:08

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Exotic is as Exotic Does

It's birthday season again, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my MOTHER and my LITTLE, both of whom are incredible ladies, although in very different ways, and many thanks to both of them for being born on the same date, to make it easier for me to remember both birthdays, as one reminds me of the other, and vice versa.

This has got me started thinking about birthdays, and what they are, and things like that.

In my office at the B, last year, the ladies took me out to lunch for my birthday, as is somewhat of a custom in our group at the B--there's four of us and we each take turns planning for the next lady's birthday after ours--and they asked me what I did to celebrate my birthday that year, although technically it had been the previous year as, being that my birthday is always in December, we hadn't gotten a chance to celebrate it in the same month or even in the same year, holiday schedules being what they are, plus the added complication of moving offices. (And we're moving AGAIN! Joy.)

Anyway, they asked me what I had done, and I said, "Oh, a bunch of my girlfriends threw a Trader Joe's themed party, in which everything came from Trader Joe's, because that's how *I* entertain, and we all congregated at someone's apartment and drank too much wine for a weeknight and just chatted."

There was a moment of silence, and then all the ladies sighed.

"Wow, that sounds...WONDERFUL," my cube mate said, and the other two made emphatic agreeing noises.

I was surprised--not because that celebration wasn't fun, because it was! But because it was pretty low-key to be considered, in my mind, as something "wonderful", at least with that kind of emphasis. After all, the year before, for my 30th birthday, I had thrown a fancy cocktail party in the middle of the week. Roommate made two kinds of punch cocktails from a signed punch recipe book that the head bartender at one of our favorite local cocktail havens had loaned her; we bought out the local Trader Joe's and offered foods galore; we insisted that everyone appear in fancy dress. It was a Happening. Sitting around and drinking wine seemed a little more low key in comparison.

But the ladies around me at the B are wives and mothers, in addition to being careerists, and they have a lot of demands on their time, especially now, as their kids are starting high school and such, and to them, a crew of ladies sitting around on a weeknight drinking too much wine for a school night and just chatting was the epitome of Wonderful.

Good to remember.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Monstrous Regiment of Women

I didn't know, until right now, that Terry Pratchett's "Monstrous Regiment" title actually had a source!

And a very old one, at that.

1558: John Knox publishes a pamphlet anonymously entitled: The first blast of the trumpet against the monstruous regiment of women.

The key blurb, with some of the original spelling:

"For who can denie but it repugneth to nature, that the blind shall be appointed to leade and conduct such as do see?

That the weake, the sicke, and impotent persones shall norishe and keepe the hole and strong, and finallie, that the foolishe, madde and phrenetike shal governe the discrete, and give counsel to such as be sober of mind?

And such be al women, compared unto man in bearing of authoritie. For their sight in ciuile regiment, is but blindnes: their strength, weaknes: their counsel, foolishenes: and judgement, phrenesie, if it be rightlie considered.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Daily Routines

Inspired by this post over at Gretchen Rubin's blog, of course, like half my musings are.

Because then, you see, the wonderful Maggie Mason wrote this post about Winston Churchill's Daily Routine, and then I dove deep into the rabbit hole, which is always a delightful thing to do, especially for such a good cause.

Which just brought me back around to this, Joan Didion's Favorite Packing List.

In conclusion, there is so much good stuff in this world! Thanks, Internet. You make it possible. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Normal Conversation

Entrepreneur and I are in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner—or rather, I’m cleaning and he’s keeping me company, as he cooked the entire meal for me earlier while I lay in bed, as my back was acting up again, and I lay there and healed and drank ginger beer and and read Alison Bechdel, which is a really wonderful way to spend one’s time while your lover is slaving away over a George Forman for you, and I highly recommend it.

ANYWAY, AS I WAS SAYING. It’s rather late and we have just watched Real Time with Bill Maher, as we are wont to do, and therefore we have just learned that Ann Coulter will be a guest on the show next week, along with Ben Affleck, which is pretty much must-see-TV.

“She’s gotten crazier,” E said, around a spoonful of ice cream.

“Yeah, I agree,” I said. “I remember when she first came on the scene, and she was mainly famous because she was a conservative Republican and wore leopard-print miniskirts, and had long blond hair. Ashley’s character from the West Wing was based partly on her, remember? Because at first they thought she was just trying to get into show business, and then she turned out to know something. Ainsley, that is. NOT Ann Coulter.”

“We used to call her Brown-shirt Barbie,” E said, chuckling.

I grinned slightly. “I can understand the Barbie reference, although I have some issues with that term, but I don’t understand the brownshirt reference! Can you help?”

“They’re the original paramilitary arm of the Nazi party who  helped bring Adolf Hitler to power,” he informed me.

“Ah. That makes sense. I don’t like ‘Barbie’ as a term in general, though. It over simplifies and over generalizes the issues surrounding women in politics and how their looks affect their reputation, while at the same time dismissing the entire woman and the entire discussion of why looks are or aren’t important! Now, THAT’S an impressive sellout word.”

He is quiet, eating his ice cream, allowing me space to talk. We talk about gender a lot less than you might think, given our particular relationship, or put another way, the particulars of our relationship. He was raised by two mothers; his cousin just married her girlfriend of many years; he majored in Psychology. He does the cooking and stays home with the dog, and so far he has brushed my dog, too, more often than I have in the last two years, and often does the laundry. I go to work at a high-powered job all day and am spending my weekends helping run his business on the side. We break traditional gender roles like we breathe—which is maybe why we don’t talk about them much. We just are. And there are pitfalls, too—he has horror stories about his experiences in the psych department of his college, and his mother and I have precious little patience to hear about how difficult HIS life has been, gender-wise.

So we don’t talk about it much, not because it’s taboo but because it doesn’t seem to get us anywhere and I love our relationship, however it runs.

But I’m serious about this Barbie word and so, uncharacteristically, I’m off and running. “It’s like when they called Palin, ‘Caribou Barbie’, just because she was pretty. I mean, to give credit where credit is due, I don’t think she attempted to use her looks once in the whole campaign—it’s just about the only dirty trick she DIDN’T try to use. And even so, the media went crazy about the cost of her suits and her makeover, getting her out of those mom sweaters, and such. Like John McCain wore Mens Warehouse! But no one fussed over how much HIS image consultant spent on clothes.”

“Yes, that’s true,” E said, gently. “But I think they called her that because she had so little SUBSTANCE. I mean, ‘Barbie’ is a completely accurate assessment, there.”

I thought about it. “Yeah, I can see that.”

And I did, but I was still bothered. And I came to a conclusion of why it bothered me later, but most unusually for me I saved it until the blog, because it wasn’t worth re-hashing all that again.

And here it is: If you’re going to use the word “Barbie” about Sarah Palin, you can’t accurately use it about Ann Coulter, and vice versa. “Barbie” means too many things, and that derogative smears both ladies in a particularly obfuscating way. Calling Palin a “Barbie” apparently means, “She has little to no substance”. Whereas calling Coulter a “Barbie” apparently means, “She is overly reliant on her looks as a tool”.

And THAT’S dangerous. Really dangerous. Because if you describe Ann Coulter as a Barbie too many times, you might convince yourself—or the liberals you’re talking to—that she ALSO has “little to no substance”.

And now, suddenly, you’re no longer treating her like a theat.

I mean, this is ANN EFFING COULTER! She’s a threat!! She’s Defcon 4! Don’t forget it, ever. I don’t care what you call her, but don’t forget who she is and what she represents. I WISH she had “little to no substance”. What a wonderful world that would be.

Monday, October 08, 2012

What Passes For Normal Conversation In Our House

Entrepreneur and I are in line at Whole Foods, and he is unhappy. We have gone to Whole Foods, at his request, when I was tired. And I protested, but eventually acquiesced, because he wanted two things: lactose-free milk, and ginger beer. And I understood these needs, and agreed, finally, that it was the best place to go for these items.

As it ended up, they had neither.

Whereas, I cleaned out the aisles! For someone who hadn't wanted to go to WF in the first place, I was happy as a clam. The cart, that he had so patiently pushed around the aisles, was full of my stuff.

So there we were in line at Whole Foods, as I was saying, and the poor cashier asked us if we had "found everything okay." We looked at each other.

"Well, you don't have the right kind of ginger beer," I started, knowing that Entrepreneur wouldn't if I didn't.

"Yeah," he said. "You only have Reed's, and that's...not my favorite. And you actually don't carry full-fat lactose-free milk."

Another cashier wandered up, and dutifully took down our suggestions. And then we both realized, in the moment: here we were, two people that had eaten today, and had jobs (well, me, anyway) and driving cars and everything, and we had supportive families that were talking to each other and we lived in America, and we were in line at Whole Foods complaining that they didn't have full-fat lactose free milk or our favorite kind of ginger beer.

We finished our conversation with both of the cashiers that had now been forced into helping us, due to corporate policy, and extricated ourselves with as much dignity as we could muster, which wasn't very much.

Thirty minutes later we were unloading our hard-won privileged grocery items and we noticed a huge amount of, shall we say, hippie-types hanging around Century Link Field. Entrepreneur did a little research on his phone and found the cause. "Ah. There's a show with members of both Phish AND The Grateful Dead tonight."

"Ah," I said.

Him: "So, if you want to score some acid, you know, tonight's the night."

Me: "Thank God, I've been meaning to get some! I looked for it at Whole Foods but they only had that one kind, which I hate."

Him: "Yeah. And when you complain to the cashier, they just look at you weird."

Saturday, October 06, 2012

I'm Doing Laundry... a place in which I need pliers to work the washer and dryer.


Monday, September 10, 2012

If My Friend Molly Can Post Reguarly From EUROPE...

Then I really have no excuse, beyond that it hurts to type and I need to save every available minute I have for work papers, because I have a $40 million paper to get out today and a $100 million dollar paper to get out by Wednesday.

I know, right? I mean, THAT'S boring! But it's what I do, and furthermore it's what the Man pays me to do, and, you know, it's not trivial, this business of planes and foreign militaries and surveillance and so on. It's not Dilbert, although it can look like it if you're not paying attention. It's Serious Business, and I'm good at it, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view.

Fortunately, because between Entrepreneur and myself, someone has to make the money, and really, if I'm honest, I had to make money previous to me being in this relationship anyway! I mean, sadly, no one pays me to sit around and look pretty. I KNOW. I'm annoyed every day.

And unfortunately, because I actually love my job and would probably go batshit insane if I didn't have something LIKE it to do, and because if I want do it well, it can produce a lot of pressure and stress, two things I don't necessarily handle well, and finally, because as aforementioned, it requires 10 hours a day of constant typing and it turns out that I now hurt like the dickens, all the time.

ALL THE TIME. It's still weird for me to think about it, really. Like this is my new normal. Like my body just woke up one day and said, "You know what? I think I'm going to stop working today. I'm just, I don't know, tired, you know? I need some 'me' time. I just have to go...somewhere that's not here." And just took off, and I'm sitting there at the restaurant on this date with life that I've made, all like, "How can you leave me like this? After all I did for you? I looked after you and fed you and took you on walks!" And my body is already out the door, and the waiter's there handing me the check that I can't afford and also I'm naked, although maybe that only happens in my nightmares.

But, yeah. It's weird. It's hard to get used to a new normal at 31. I have to rewrite my life narrative. Ixnay on the tequila-fueled salsa dancing marathons, bring on the multiple cups of tea and ergonomic shoes. It's getting old, but it feels damned similar. To be comfortable with it, I have to rewrite my narrative in a way that has promise to me, that shows promise FOR me, that seems like it will have good things around every corner, secret easter eggs that I have to walk slowly to find.

And so I'm doing things like: taking a lot more pictures, trying to stay present in the moment instead of wanting to fly off into the Great Gray Cloud Of Sadness And Despair. Trying to find small, good, things. Like, for example:

The fact that I have great health care (and that is a LARGE good thing!) and that I can even put my partner on it, saving HIM money, which is a good thing for US.

Even HAVING an US. (Again: a rather large good thing.)

The fact that the internet exists. Miles and miles of internet, miles and miles of entertainment, and not just mindless, either. For example: there is my friend Molly's travel blog, found here. I mean, my friend Molly can post updates to her blog from all over the world, and I can read them, here, standing at my ergonomic desk wearing my ergonomic shoes, and people say we don't live in the future? (To be fair, I would still like a jetpack.)

Also, you know what else exists on the internet? The text of Ernest Hemingway's story, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place", the title of which I just realized does not use the Oxford Comma, which is a thing I know about because of the internet. (Curious? Google the following: Oxford Comma Strippers. I PROMISE it is actually safe for work and will make you LOL.)

And finally, the following:

PLANT! It's name is Plant. It's a maidenhair fern, and it's in my cubicle, and it makes me so happy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Entrepreneur: "Yeah, an important rule of dating is to not muzzle-sweep your girlfriend."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Warning: Not A Cheerful Post


But! Some days we must take a moment to reflect on interesting things, and interesting things are not always bright and sunshiny. And so I share with you the following, a passage from Clarissa Pinkola Estes' WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES:

"“Her idea of a really good time was to board the train to Chicago and wear a big hat, and walk down Michigan Avenue looking in all the shop windows and being an elegant lady. By hook or by crook or by fate, she married a farmer. They moved out into the midst of the wheatlands, and she began to rot away in that elegant little farmhouse that was just the right size, with all the right children, and all the right husband. She had no more time for that ‘frivolous’ life she’d once led. Too much ‘kids.’ Too much ‘woman’s work.’ One day, years later, after washing the kitchen and living room floors by hand, she slipped into her very best silk blouse, buttoned her long skirt, and pinned on her big hat. She pressed her husband’s shotgun to the roof of her mouth and pulled the trigger. Every woman alive knows why she washed the floors first. A starved soul can become so filled with pain, a woman can no longer bear it.”"

I found this via the always amazing Ask Metafilter, because I was looking for--no, not ways to kill myself, Lordy!--but because I was looking for the best MOP.

And the Ask Metafilter discussion continues:

Another responder: "While it doesn't quite fit your description, being a play and all, it also sound quite similar to Marsha Norman's Night, Mother, where jessie makes sure everything in the house is settled before committing suicide."

And yet another responder: "Also, it's the opening scene of the pilot to the TV series DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES."

And yet one more: "Although the character is male, that's also the opening scene of the film Wristcutters: A Love Story."

And finally: "I recently read the same thing in an article about an elderly woman who legally (in her country, with medical supervision) killed herself. Her son told her, Mother, you don't need to bother with that. But she had some powerful inner need to get everything cleaned up before she departed."

And finally, the original poster:

"Thanks, all! I had no idea that 'Woman cleans, then woman kills herself' was such a commonly repeated theme in literature. Or life. This has been both enlightening, and a little depressing. I suggest that we all let those floors go for awhile! :)"

And, as often, I think the hive mind has churned out some good advice, here. I do in fact suggest we all let those floors go for awhile. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Entrepreneur and I have had a crowded month. Many, many, things, have happened.

Coming home some time in the past month, I said to him, "I feel like I work my fingers to the bone all fucking day and I get to the end of the day and I'm exhausted, and yet I have accomplished only one-quarter of the things I needed to."

"RIGHT?" he said. "Where the hell does the time GO?"

For example, we got to the end of July and I was saying, "Remember when I spent three weeks practically bedridden?" And he said, "Yeah, that seems like yesterday."

"That practically WAS yesterday," I said. "That was in July. And we're STILL IN JULY."

The look he gave me was priceless. The man has an even rockier relationship with time than I do. It's precious.

And now, here we are, at the end of August, and I just realized it's only been eleven days since we reclaimed the Loft. It seems like three weeks, because we want to get so much done and we can't seem to GET it done, but it's only been eleven days and perhaps it was unrealistic to expect a gimp on full social disability and an overly-driven yuppie who works 10 hours a day and commutes at least an hour and a half on top of that and who isn't in great physical shape either to completely revamp a bathroom and kitchen in eleven days. I mean, maybe.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Good To Know: Empathy Vs. Sympathy, Plus Side Order of Empathic Concern

Empathy refers to the understanding and sharing of a specific emotional state with another person. It is the capacity to recognize feelings that are being experienced by another sentient or semi-sentient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion.

Sympathy, however, does not require the sharing of the same emotional state. It is an extension of empathic concern, or the perception, understanding, and reaction to the distress or need of another human being. This empathic concern is driven by a switch in viewpoint, from a personal perspective to the perspective of another group or individual who is in need. Empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably, but the two terms have distinct origins and meanings. Instead, sympathy is merely a concern for the well-being of another individual or group of individuals. Although sympathy *may* begin with empathizing with the same emotion another person is feeling, sympathy *can also* be extended to other emotional states.

Clear as mud? I thought so, too. Here's a definition of Empathy that I like: "The ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand her emotions and feelings."

Whereas Sympathy seems to be an outwardly-generated emotional state. "There are some specific conditions that need to happen in order to experience sympathy. These conditions include attention to a subject, believing that a person (or group) is in a state of need, and the characteristics of a given situation."

"The state of need of an individual or group is also considered during the creation of sympathy. Varying states of need (such as perceived vulnerability or pain) require unique human reactions, often ranging from attention to sympathy. A person experiencing cancer might warrant a feeling of sympathy more than a person who has a cold. The conditions under which sympathy is selected as an appropriate response are organized more broadly into individual differences and situational differences."

Okay, I'm just going to keep going with the Wikipedia article, because this is FASCINATING and because according to this, I've been using "sympathy", and possibly "sympathetic to", all wrong!!

"The ways in which people think about human deservingness, interdependence, and vulnerability motivate the experience of sympathy. A person who seems ‘deserving’ of aid is more likely to be helped. A belief in human interdependence fuels sympathetic behavior; this belief is seen as somewhat selfish because helping someone who is connected to you through some way (family, social capital) will often result in a personal reward (social, monetary, etc.)
Sympathy also operates based on the principle of the powerful helping the vulnerable. Therefore, those who are perceived as vulnerable (young, elderly, sick) become the target of sympathy. This desire to help the vulnerable has been suggested to stem from the paternalistic nature of humans, where humans seek to protect and aid their children in survival. People help others as if they were their own children or family when they are in need.

Individual moods, previous experiences, social connections, novelty, salience, and spacial proximity can also influence the experience of sympathy. Individuals experiencing positive mood states and people who have similar life experiences are more likely to produce sympathy.
Spacial proximity, or when a person or group exists close geographically (such as neighbors and citizens of a given country), they will more likely experience sympathy towards each other. Similarly, social proximity follows the same pattern. Members of certain groups (ex. racial groups) favor people who are also members of groups similar to their own. Social proximity is intimately linked with in-group and out-group status. In-group status, or a person falling within a certain social group, is also integral to the experience of sympathy. With this reasoning, it would be easier to feel sympathy for someone with the same religious beliefs than for someone in a religious group that one is not a part of. Both of these processes are based on the notion that people within the same group are interconnected and share successes and failures and therefore experience more sympathy towards each other than to out-group members, or social outsiders."

Ooooookay. Okay. So: Empathy is what you feel, whether you act on it or not, when you perceive a human/semi-sentient being near you in distress. Cat, child, homeless person, significant other in a sad mood, etc. SYMPATHY is how you...react to your empathy, I guess. Does that sound right to everyone?

If it does, or even if it doesn't, I get to run with it because it's MY blog, so that's what I'm going with.

(Bonus round: Empathic Concern is just another term for Sympathy. Other acronyms used: compassion, pity. Again: active emotions that usually draw from "empathy" as a starting point, but are not *required* to do so.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Love Note

My amazing Entrepreneur went out and bought a mirror for me and installed it for me after I yelled at him about a lack thereof, and then he only went and bagged up the laundry and dropped it off at a laundromat. I may have yelled at him about that, too, back on Saturday night, after too much wine. And I'm not sure exactly what kind of awesome person is able to forgive and forget the drunken yelling, or even the sober yelling, and just does the things his partner requests of him, regardless of mode of communication, but I would like to stay with this awesome person for awhile. That is all.

*It helps that he speaks New Yorker. For him, "Do what I say or else I'm going to throw you off the loading dock" is a normal phrase to use in a business conversation. He is still a little surprised that that offends some people. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Mother Is Awesome

From a few days ago:

"Hi, I'm intrigued about 168 Hours after reading your post! Is that something I can download from the library to my iPad? The hard copy is unavailable, but the download IS available."

Me, in response: "Hi Mom, I’m not that familiar with the iOS (Apple Operating System) but you certainly SHOULD be able to download that book to your iPad! I’ll play around with it for a second anytime. Shouldn’t be more than a five minute test."

Her: "Maybe I should get it out of the box first, yes?"

And then, just yesterday: "Dear Daughter, Observation: You are communicating/posting more because you feel so much better (no back problems), the sun is out, and you have some cool new threads! Just my opinion!!"

Oh, Mom. You rock.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Thoughts On Life

...and that reminds me, I need to take out ALL of our trash at the DR. We have hills of trash, and they're starting to form mountains, on which rests a light coating of dog-hair snow. We are growing LAND MASSES of garbage.

Which reminds me of Garbage Island. Which reminds me: buy more reusable bags. Humanity, we are horrible. More pictures of Garbage Island here.

Which reminds me of this post I wrote about rural Thailand, particularly this passage:

"Thailand in general has a waste management problem, and the Burmese school is in the slums, so there is trash everywhere, huge piles of it out back of all the huts. It's depressing. ...On the negative side, the Western culture of consummation of pre-packaged things--sodas and pre-wrapped sweets and things--has TRASHED the area, see the Waste Management problem, above."


That is not the point of this post at all. The point of this post is that for some reason I have "Oops, I Did It Again" stuck in my head, which I will not link to because no one should ever be forced to listen to that song, and for some reason I know ALL the words right now, I could sing the entire song a capella, and THAT started a train of thought that ended with: Garbage In, Garbage Out. I could meditate on the complete inanity of the lyrics of "Oops, I Did It Again", which are inane EVEN FOR A BUBBLEGUM POP SONG...

...OR, I could purposefully meditate on something a little more stimulating!

Which is how I got here:

"The sun, whose rays Are all ablaze With ever-living glory, Does not deny His majesty He scorns to tell a story! He don't exclaim, "I blush for shame, So kindly be indulgent." But, fierce and bold, In fiery gold, He glories all effulgent! I mean to rule the earth, As he the sky We really know our worth, The sun and I! I mean to rule the earth, As he the sky We really know our worth, The sun and I!

Observe his flame, That placid dame, The moon's Celestial Highness; There's not a trace Upon her face Of diffidence or shyness: She borrows light That, through the night, Mankind may all acclaim her! And, truth to tell, She lights up well, So I, for one, don't blame her! Ah, pray make no mistake, We are not shy; We're very wide awake, The moon and I! Ah, pray make no mistake, We are not shy; We're very wide awake, The moon and I!"

...what's funny is that the above kind of IS bubblegum pop, albeit from almost 130 years ago.  It's lyrics from one of the songs from the comic opera The Mikado, by Gilbert and Sullivan.

(Which reminds me: see Topsy-Turvy!) (Which reminds me: I've recently seen De-Lovely. Anyone else see this? Thoughts?*)

ANYWAY. I know this song because of the movie Brick, which is a fantastic movie that everyone should see immediately. (Entrepreneur hasn't ever seen it, which is especially wonderful because now I get to be there when he watches it for the first time.) (Unlike Jack of All Trades, which is altogether a different story.) (Pun intended.)

Where was I? Oh yes, Brick. Brick is a fantastic movie, as I was saying, and in it, at a party, a character recites part of "The Sun, Whose Rays Are All Ablaze". See clip:

Speaking of clips, may I just say that I love the internet? LOVE the internet? Because it provides space for people, in their spare time, and for no pay or recognition, just for the love of creation, to take hours and make things like this:

SO GOOD. So good. I dare you not to start laughing.

AND FINALLY. While looking for "The Sun, Whose Rays Are All Ablaze", I found this:

Bricklayer Love

I thought of killing myself because I am only a bricklayer
and you a woman who loves the man who runs a drug store.

I don't care like I used to; I lay bricks straighter than I
used to and I sing slower handling the trowel afternoons.

When the sun is in my eyes and the ladders are shaky and the
mortar boards go wrong, I think of you.

-Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg is probably my favorite poet, which is a statement I can make with confidence only because I'm not familiar with the work of very many poets, and Carl Sandburg is also the poet through whom I first even became INTERESTED in poetry. I pulled out a slim volume of his work at Elliot Bay Bookstore when I was in middle school; I remember it vividly. The smell of Elliot Bay Bookstore, the placement of the poetry section in the old location in Pioneer Square, the creaking of the floorboards, the fact that I read four poems from the book without stopping and bought it, and also a book of love poems and a book of William Shakespeare love sonnets, and I have no idea right now where any of those books are, given that they're in boxes, but I read the Carl Sandburg volume cover to cover and still REMEMBER the cover, although not the title. 
*mutter, mutter* I'm sorry, what was that? Oh, thanks, Internet, that was great. Here's the volume I fell in love with. 

To give credit where credit is due, I was looking for Carl Sandburg because we were studying Imagist Poetry in my summer literature** class, and the style spoke to me and fascinated me, mainly because it wasn't very long and I didn't have to slog through pages and pages of ABAB rhyming that wasn't even Shakespeare (which is what we were doing in my normal public school classes) and I couldn't see the point. 

As Pratchett says, way better than I do: (gods love you, Internet)

 "In theory it was, around now, Literature. Susan hated Literature. She'd much prefer to read a good book. ...It was a poem about daffodils. Apparently the poet had liked them very much. Susan was quite stoic about this. It was a free country. People could like daffodils if they wanted to. They just should not, in Susan’s very definite and precise opinion, be allowed to take up more than a page to say so."

...which reminds me of this quote, for my poor, beleaguered, Entrepreneur:

"She got on with her education. In her opinion, school kept on trying to interfere with it."

ANYWAY. Imagist Poetry and Poets, yes.  How I discovered Carl Sandburg, etc, although he's not technically an Imagist. I read Ezra Pound first, I think, and I liked him, too. And I believe that may be the end of this post for today.

(If you have time, DEFINITELY read that Imagist Poetry Wikipedia article. I didn't realize until I read it how much the style and movement affected, and generated, so many other styles and areas of interest that I like, including Sappho (I bought a book of her poetry not long after) and T.S. Eliot, who, to bring this full circle, was discussed during the Time On The Mountain yesterday, specifically The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock.)

(And if you have MORE time, definitely find a copy of The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock and read it.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy 35th Birthday, Love.

Entrepreneur and I celebrated his birthday by taking the Subaru out on mountain roads and spending several hours exploring, taking short hikes, scouting places to camp and shoot, and just generally breathing the sharp mountain air. We agreed on everything we discussed, from big things to little things, having one of those days in which you're just on the exact same page as someone else, and we were pleased about it.

Regretfully getting off the mountain, driving home, then stepping out of the car on the warmer and more humid temperatures of sea level--and we live almost on top of the port, so the difference is especially noticeable--I felt that my soul was full. It wasn't like the intense joy of skiing, or the intense tiredness that comes after that--it was a more calm feeling, one of...satiety, maybe. It was a more inner happiness, made all the better because I was with someone who was experiencing the same thing. I had been on The Mountain again.

Psalm 121:1. "I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."

Skadhi was pleased, I think.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I'm always inspired when I take a moment to read a few pages of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. I'm working through it slowly, not because it's difficult to read--it's absolutely not, it's very accessible--but because there's so much to digest, and all this great material is hidden in plain sight, by such short words, that I have to take a lot of breaks. It's the opposite of not being able to see the forest for the trees; it's more like intentionally taking the time to make a complete study of each tree, not caring if you get all the way through the forest or not. A lot of her points simply MAKE SENSE to me, and then I have to go away and think about them for awhile before I feel ready to come back and read a few more pages.

Then again, I'm a sucker for this kind of writing style; I LIKE ideas that seem simple at first and then rattle around in your brain so much that you have to put the book down and really give that simple idea the meditation it deserves. Paradoxes, koans, one-sentence statements connecting the large and the small, the meta and the minute, and using thoughts expressed in those particular ways to attempt to classify and sub-classify human behavior into easily-chewable chunks; that's a style that both makes sense to me and fascinates me. (Just ask Entrepreneur. I tend to go on and ON about it at dinner.)

Back to 168 Hours: The mixed reviews on Amazon may mean I'm the only one who likes this writing style; no matter. It speaks to me, not only because I like the general idea communication style so much, although that's a terribly clunky phrase, but also because of its subject matter; I NEED this kind of simple style more than ever on certain subjects, like...time.

Everyone knows that ADD kids have a weird relationship with time, and meditating ON time--how to actively feel the seconds pass, how to expand a minute so that it contains the whole world--is a happy notion in the abstract but, like many meditative exercises (at least for me) sometimes the same result is achieved, and also more practically emphasized, by an accompanying small action, like Buddhist monks climbing the 314 stairs to the prayer room daily as a form of active meditation. This idea--of actively tracking minutes, hours, etc--is completely fascinating to me.

In the book she recommends keeping a time log on a piece of paper, and she has some very plain but quite fine examples of these kinds of logs, but really who can POSSIBLY carry a notebook around? Instead, me being me (duh) I found two apps, one web-based (Yast) and one app-based (Time Recording) and I'm OBSESSED. It's. Just. So. Fascinating. Why?

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Sittin' On The Steps Of Broadway

It almost works, yes? Yes?

I'm sitting just off Broadway in the sun, reading the Stranger, in my new hat, and even though I can't clean anything ever again, or for at least a few months, whichever comes first, life could SERIOUSLY be worse.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yes, That Just About Sums It Up

This has certainly been a theme of the last two months: 

W.  H. Auden wrote: “Between the ages of 20 and 40 we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity.”

Via (what else?) The Happiness Project.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

I See...Dirt, Part 3

So far while moving into the warehouse I have employed a traditional cleaning method that the woman in my family have used for generations, or, to put it another much more accurate way, my mother's method, which is to say you go along on your hands and knees on the floor with a wet paper towel, or just your hands if you can't find a paper towel or are way too impatient to wait for the return of the boyfriend you sent off on the errand, and you stuff anything that looks important in your pocket and you mop up all the rest with your damp-and-getting-drier-by-the-second paper towel. It's just as backbreaking and mom-like as it sounds but you get fabulous results in a surprisingly short amount of time, although this method has been known to put you out of commission for the entire next day, but (according to my mother) that only happens to weaklings. I was 22 before I learned that people used vacuums for HARDWOOD FLOORS. For things you could SEE. My mother would have been on her knees picking that clump of dirt up with her bare hands and stuffing in her pocket faster than you could say, "The vacuum is..." (Usually, the end to that sentence, at least living in the sorority house, was: "...clogged." Once we took it to the vacuum place to get it fixed and they swore they'd found a softball in there.)

You'd think things like swiffers and clorox wipes would have been the best invention for my mother and I since sliced bread, but that thought would be wrong. For someone who doesn't really clean much, I have very strong opinions about it, and I've always had much better results with a plain paper towel or just my hands, (following my mother's example) and I've been known to wash my hands 15 times in an hour instead of just finding the damn paper towels because I keep picking up dog hair clumps and then wanting to eat, which also happens about fifteen times a day (again, for both myself AND my mother.) If the paper product industry depended on us, they'd be broke in a matter of months.

And it's even WORSE in the BATHROOM. I don't use even use washcloths, preferring instead to just splash water on my face and then drip dry into a hand towel, and I'll even use my fingers for TONER. The plus side of this method is, if you're using, say, apple cider vinegar for a toner, and you get some on the counter, you can just wipe it up with a paper towel and then keep going for a second or two and then you've cleaned your counters. Marvelous. (My mother bought a packet of cotton balls once in 1985. That packet is still in the cabinet below the sink.)

Along with her electric razor that has a missing chunk out of the razor blade, which hasn't been changed since 1985, so it takes a big chunk out of your leg when you're racing through shaving your legs because you just learned how. NOT THAT I'M STILL BITTER.

Friday, June 01, 2012

I See...Dirt, Part 2.

So, how do *I* shave, because I'm way too self-conscious yet to shave in front of my boyfriend and I'm terrified of making his gigantic shower work without him? Glad you asked. Backing up: how did I do masks before the mirror in the bathroom? (Which, ironically, is one of those little suction-cup mirrors you put in the shower for guys to shave in?)

Well, before this, I was doing it at work.

You read that right. Whenever I thought I needed a mask, I'd bring it to work, carry it into the bathroom, put warm water in a cup and bring a few paper towels, and camp out in a stall. It's only five minutes--the equivalent of a coffee break. Not difficult or fraud-y. (You can use your smartphone for a mirror, at least if it's not broken, or really any vaguely reflective surface will do. Is the top of the toilet well-scrubbed? What about the shiny stall walls? Etc.)

So when I realized I could use the same method to SHAVE...well. You can guess where this is going. I remembered the technique I learned in the slums of Ensanada: you don't need running water to shave if you have lotion. I had a few false starts (things that DON'T work: sunscreen, creamy face wash, olive oil, argan oil) before I realized that those disposable "blade-with-solid-lather-bars" are the absolute best thing ever. The first time I did it I forgot to bring paper towels into the stall, so I just used the toilet seat covers to wipe off the lather. Worked great and almost ZERO stubble rash, which is a miracle in and of itself. Related: I'm generally a natural-ingredient girl, but for some reason the faker and more gel-ier the shave gel, THE BETTER. Damn those silicones. Anyway.

I finally told my boyfriend I was doing it, braving embarrassment at telling him I was too embarrassed to shave in front of him, because I realized he might notice me staying shaved and never actually performing the action and *starting down a rough road*.

Most boyfriends, or men in general, might not notice or think anything of it if they did notice, but my boyfriend is one of the most observant and connected men I have ever met. He has "sensitive female" levels of perception ability. I *love* this about him, of course, because it allows us to have entire conversations in which the subject is never mentioned--essentially starting in the middle of a thought process--leaving the people around us rather confused, which of course is half the fun of having inside jokes in the first place. But we get to create them all the time. Moving on.

There is one thing that he is absolutely male about, however: he is much, MUCH, messier than I am, and everyone that knows me in real life is shaking their head right now and wondering just how messy could someone be? And that answer is: MESSY.

He's a genius, of course. He doesn't SEE dirt, just as I'm sure Einstein didn't see dirt. I am unfortunately either not a genius, or I am too steeped in female culture or social expectations or SOMETHING, because unfortunately, now I see Dirt. (It only took ten years and some very helpful and compassionate sorority sisters. Shoutout to Bergie, who was the nicest and most gentle person to ever approach me about the fact that my room...smelled.)

So, I'm used to filth. I can hang, as the kids say. I slept in the same bed as my DOG for several years, and he was occasionally incontinent. Yes, really. But now? I see Dirt. How do I handle it? Glad you asked! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I see...Dirt.

If smart phones are good for anything, it's amusing yourself in the bathroom while your mask dries.

I have recently moved in with my boyfriend , who is living, temporarily, in a (barely) converted warehouse, which only goes a part of the way toward explaining why I'm standing naked in what amounts to a gas station bathroom smearing $65 face mask on my skin, but damned if I'm not going to stand here for the recommended five minutes, which is why I'm typing this on my smartphone. I put some on my elbow, too, for good measure. The mask, not the phone, and I didn't put any mask on the phone, although the screen is so broken I'm not sure I could actually worsen the condition and a good mask treatment might even be an improvement. My elbow, which has some kind of recurring bite on it and itches like crazy, is stinging a bit after the mask, which I think is a good sign.

The only reason I can even do this here is because there's finally a mirror in this bathroom, which only happened yesterday. You read that right. No mirror in the bathroom. Before this I did my makeup in the big mirrored doors of the IKEA wardrobe in our bedroom, which means that I often splashed water on my face at night, THEN trekked, raccoon-eyed, two rooms over to the big mirrors, so I could put lotion on the correct smudges and not in my eye. I'd have installed a mirror in the bathroom awhile ago except we can't even seem to keep TOWELS in the bathroom, much less a mirror. (No, really. Three other guys live here too and one of them purloined the mirror and set it up by the only window in the place by a live outlet, because two of the three have beards and they needed to shave in natural light. With electric razors, obviously.)

This is what happens when you move into a barely converted warehouse. My boyfriend refers to it as "the Danger Room", or the DR for short, which is confusing if you have spent any time in the Dominican Republic, which he has and I haven't, so there you go. It's much like living in a medieval castle, or in a third world--I feel like I need a lit candle to walk around the place. (Much better, too, if I had flowing robes a la Maid Marian.) It's confusing and challenging and AWESOME and I LOVE IT. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Charlotte Gray at Bending Breath

I found the book "Charlotte Gray" in a shared library in a hostel in Tokyo at 3 am because I couldn't sleep, and I read it all in one sitting and brought it home with me on the plane and haven't read it since, but have thought about it many times. It remains a mystery in my head, a mild obsession, a faint itch that I COULD scratch if I wanted to, but choose not to. I like it almost better as a mystery.

Also, "found in a shared library in a hostel in Tokyo at 3 am because I couldn't sleep" is one of those incredibly pretentious things you only get to say a few times, and I am damned well going to take every opportunity to do so. I'd say I'm sorry about this, but I'm not.

Also: I have no idea how I found this blog, but I read her obsessively. I don't think she even knows I exist. Another mystery that I like to leave as a mystery.

“Memory is the only thing that binds you to earlier selves; for the rest, you become an entirely different being every decade or so, sloughing off the old persona, renewing and moving on. You are not who you were, he told her, nor who you will be.”  

-Sebastian Faulks, Charlotte Gray

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Give me a 13 foot pipe and a place to stand, and I shall move...THIS SUITCASE.

Or, Why You Should Never Throw Anything Away.

A nice weekender bag just wasn't going to cut it. I was about to leave on a week long trip, covering business AND a wedding AND some time just bumming around Long Island. I needed a suitcase. A REAL suitcase. I had one of those, but...oh, dear. Hadn't I just moved?

On the plus side, I located it immediately, in the morass of things that is my stuff, piled up to the rafters of the warehouse I've just moved in to with Entrepreneur. On the negative side, it the top of a 15-foot stack of boxes. Mounting the neighboring drafting table brought me within wishing reach, arms weren't quite long enough. Then I braved climbing directly onto the upper strata of boxes, and managed to reach the handle button, which extended said handle, which seemed like victory...until I realized I'd just extended the lever arm in the wrong direction. Now I'd have to apply much MORE force to lift the suitcase above the sides of the box holding it, and I wasn't sure the upper strata were balanced enough to support me, plus me working against my own weight, without toppling over like dominoes and taking me with them. Not the ideal start to a week long trip of any kind.

Fortunately, I had resources; namely, one very smart boyfriend, and also, one 13-foot conduit pipe that I've carried with me from place to place for the last two years for gawd knows what reason except that you just never know when you might desperately need a good 13-foot pipe, and they can be hard to lay your hands on at a moment's notice.*

Entrepreneur's solution: Tell girlfriend to stay where she is. Grab your girlfriend's 13-foot pipe. Utilize already installed girlfriend, precariously but firmly balanced on the closest access point to the suitcase, as the fulcrum.** Have her thread the pipe through the helpfully popped-up handle. Direct her to utilize all of her non-existent upper body strength and push and HOLD the pipe as high as possible above her head, against your force. Stand back and haul that lever DOWN. Et Voila!

Optional finish for extra style points: As you hand your girlfriend the high flying suitcase, remark offhandedly, "When facing a problem, always remember your Archimedes."

*Very smart boyfriends can ALSO be hard to lay your hands on at a moment's notice.

**This stunt was performed by a completely unpaid nonprofessional on a very uncontrolled course. Do not try this at home.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Survived Hell!


Getting called a tw@t in front of my mother really put the cap on it, I think. But! It does not matter. I escaped with all my fingers and toes--I don't think I left more than a few brain cells behind--and I get to live with a pretty awesome guy and really, just surviving, and knowing I never have to go back, is a wonderful, blessed, thing.

Also! I got to go to LA and NYC and see some awesome people get married. That was pretty nifty. Shoutout to a navy blue dress I bought at a thrift store that I think was meant to be a nightgown and has now carried me through six weddings, with at least one more to go. Best fourteen bucks I ever spent.

Monday, April 30, 2012

About "From the B-Sides"

Tri-Tip, the other day, took time out of his busy work schedule to hound me for posting ARCHIVES. (Direct quote: "We demand NEW content!")

"But they ARE new content, at least to you," I said. "Those are all unpublished drafts of posts I never finished, or wasn't sure what to do with. Figured the time had come to make them work for their keep."

"Ah," he said, without missing a beat, "then they're not archives. They're B-sides."

And so they are.

Friday, April 20, 2012

From the B-Sides: Blues Lyrics

It's a warm summer night, but that computer screen glows cold/
This space you put between us is really growing old/
Talking to you is less appealing than mold/
So when the dealer comes around again, tell him that I fold

Written about the LT, sometime in spring or summer 2009.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

From the B-Sides: Cooking for the Then-Boyfriend

From last year:

I had kind of an off week last week--tired, not really into much, feeling like a failure--and Roommate (before she was Roommate) came over in the middle of it and looked into my fridge. "Hold up," she said. "You...went to the grocery!"

"Yes!" I said. "There's cheese, and bread, and even some lettuce mix."

She gave me a priceless look of amazement over the back of the door. "Wow," she said, "you HAVE had an off week!"

HA. Whatever.

On the plus side, I totally packed a lunch for myself today of FOOD that I bought at a GROCERY STORE, including SALAD with dressing and leftover pasta that I totally made ON MY OWN, with mainly-homemade sauce, thanks to the aforementioned dinner that I cooked for Boyfriend.

(Menu for Boyfriend Dinner: Two pork chops, of such high quality that I just cooked them in butter, salt and pepper, and a little garlic-from-a-jar. Wide good noodles from TJ's with a sauce of sheeps' milk yogurt, Nancy's sour cream, and leftover parmesan sauce from Safeway. Lettuce mix with dressing. Yes, it feels fancy to ME, okay? Okay.)

From mid-year 2010, cooking for AZ.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

From the B-Sides: On My Lust List for Spring

Oh, man.

From summer 2010. And I STILL want them!

Friday, April 13, 2012

From the B-Sides: On Changing and Being Changed

I wrote a post last year about being a partier and dating a partier, and I didn't publish it partly because I hadn't finished it, and partly because I was worried about my mother's reaction.

I need coffee. Hang on.

In my next life, I want to write like Tom Chiarelli. Why is there no Esquire Magazine for women?

Speaking of, the editor for Cosmopolitan, Ms. Kate White, is really an excellent writer. She has at least two non-fiction books out and a whole series of whodunits with a freelance writer (sound familiar?) as the protagonist, and they are really good.

I would totally read an entire magazine written in Ms. White's voice. She treats women like they are literate, independent, sane. Exactly how Esquire seems to treat its readers. I understand that Ms. White cares about Cosmo and I understand that one woman can't--and really, shouldn't--change a working magazine formula, but it is still slightly disappointing, like seeing someone you know and respect marry someone you know is no good for them.

(Tom Chiarelli is not the editor for Esquire. Just one of their more senior and important contributors. He writes a lot of advice pieces, but not advice columns; more longer non-fiction pieces that hope to show, instead of tell, young men how to be a man.)

Yes. Well. Although much of his advice (at least some) is non-gender specific, and I don't always agree with him, I do wonder what he would advise young men to do in these kinds of situations, both a) I've written a very casual and normal piece that I'm terribly worried about publishing because I'm worried about my mother (and, to be fair, my father as well, although he is less of a threat because he is less inclined to call me about it and also works much farther away) and b) I'm in a relationship that is changing me, and I hate it.

Let me be clear: the man is not TRYING to change me. He simply is, by virtue of being himself, and me being myself (by virtue of: GOD what a ridiculous phrase. I'm not even sure what it means.)

Ahem. The man is not at all trying to change me. (I've been THERE before and I know what that looks like. This is different.) I am reacting in some way that seems to be pre-prescribed by either my hormones or the socialization I can't fully rid myself of or the alignment of the stars and the moon or SOMETHING, and whatever that SOMETHING is, it can go jump in the Sound in December, as far as I am concerned, and never come back. (Writer's note: I almost used the phrase "I am simply reacting" and then went back and took it out. Whether you are writing an email, a powerpoint presentation, a blog post, a letter, whatever, you should NEVER use the words "simply" or "just". The minute you find yourself using them in your speech, stop immediately and figure out what you're really trying to say. Those are weasel words, passive-aggressive words, and they make you a hypocritical coward faster than you can say "Pharisee".)

(Back to the point.)

It's an old joke: A woman marries a man hoping he will change, and he doesn't, and a man marries a woman hoping she'll never change, and she does.

I don't WANT to change. I don't want to be changed by him, and I don't want to want him to change, if you follow me. So far I may be succeeding at point three, but occasionally failing at points one and two, and here would probably be a good time to add some nouns, because this sentence is going to get ridiculously complicated quickly if I repeat the word "change" every five words, and you'll start to think you're listening to Obama's 2012 presidential campaign.

In a nutshell, I will post the body of the original post I wrote, because it fits in neatly AND now I'll never have to finish it, and I've already published the parental disclaimer, and so now by writing sleight-of-hand and I am fully blameless and can publish this post with equanimity. HA.

On Being And Dating a Partier.

Hanging out with moderate drinkers is sure different from hanging out with serious drinkers. For comparison: the Blonde Squad are moderate drinkers. The CTC Crew are serious drinkers. (And that's not all they do with their disposable income, I'll just put it that way.)

I've been trying to walk this fine line with my mother (and father) about the amount of partying that I talk about in this blog, not because I'm worried about their judgment or approval, but because they'll worry, and they'll want to talk about it, and I don't know how to communicate to them that they may be correct on some level to worry, but that talking about it would be like talking about why most girls under 30 aren't married yet or what Twitter does, exactly, or trying to explain Snark. It's not that they're dumb. (They're both better educated than I am.) It's that it's a generational phenomenon. I feel that what drives their worry is the fact that I am failing at life, that I am somehow an outlier who is terribly unhappy or unsuccessful or drinking some secret pain away or staying out because I can't bear to be home, and that may be true, but if it is, then the entire generation under 35, and most of the generation under 40, has the exact same problem and perhaps we should ALL go to more therapy and go to fewer bars.

Are bars the new psychiatrist's couch? Is shouting over your friends and chasing members of the opposite sex the new cognitive behavioral therapy?

Because my generation--and the one right before me, say--pretty much INVENTED binge drinking. It's what we do.

Put another way, partying is something that happens among a certain age group who has a fair amount of disposable income and a lot of free time, with no dependents, and is obviously sad about life, because why else would they drink that much?

Seriously, you put a lot of really gorgeous people in a room together who don't know each other, for a big party, and suddenly people are pounding the shots back like they're water. WHY? Why do we do this? Is it social anxiety? Are people afraid of something? Getting to know other people? Getting to know themselves? Are other people not going to like them? Will they know what to say? (I'm aware that paragraph is very poorly written. Sorry.)

So if I have a strong belief that I should live my single life and my relationship life in very similar veins--and I have a very strong belief that I should--then I should be able to go out with my partner, right? And I've made a practice of doing that very successfully. For many years, a shaping policy on my dating life has been that I won't date anyone I can't go out with. I shared that with my mother recently and she said, "But Miss Dear, you won't always want to GO OUT. You'll want to spend time at home!"

I pooh-poohed this idea, which is generally par for the course.

But dating partiers is hard, too. There's a lot of parties. People flirt. People get drunk, and do stupid things, and get jealous. I turn into a hag. It's not good. Or my date turns into a jealous asshole. (Editor's Note: Both have happened to me relatively recently, actually.)

One of the things that broke up the LT and I at the end of the relationship is that he still wanted to go out, in the GO-GO-GO atmosphere that is hard-livin' young professionals that spend every waking moment not at work on a ski mountain or on a sailboat or on a motorcycle or jumping out of airplanes, and I wanted to have more dinners out and see more live music (usually the symphony or jazz) and dance more.

Also, partying that much feels, after awhile--even with the slightly more sophisticated verneer of jazz and dancing and live music, which really only means that you get a cheap red wine hangover instead of a cheap whiskey hangover--childish.

CHILDISH. You're not doing anything. You're not contributing to society, you're not doing anything creative in your off hours. Whether you're on the ski slope or in the ballet audience, you're not doing anything good for society, and yes I DID just equate skiing with ballet. Are you CREATING the ballet? No? Then you're not spending your leisure hours in any more productive fashion than the dude who smokes pot every day and lives in the snow. (I'll buy the argument that there is more POTENTIAL for creativity for the person who attends ballet, but that only counts if they then use that generated creativity.)

And going to fancy parties and drinking with a really nice view is a kick in the pants, true, but it's not any more productive than skiing unless you're in the market for a rich husband or the best networker ever.

The point I am trying to make here is that now I am suddenly hanging out with a lot of boys who are heavy drinkers and it's WONDERFUL, but I'm not ACCOMPLISHING a damn thing besides wearing out my liver and looking really good at night. The last two dates Handrolled and I have had have been specifically about drinking, as in, that was the entire plan for the date: "Let's get drunk and watch movies and snuggle." To be fair, I LOVE this activity. But when it's the GOAL for the date, I feel like we shoot past "happy energetic tipsy", which is what everyone is aiming for, and go directly to "Blackout Express", which means that some part of me SOMEWHERE has a good night but I don't get to remember all of it in the morning, which is no fun.

Zaphod Breeblebox's Gambit: When you send a drink down the hatch and it seems to have no affect, so you send another one down to see what the first one is doing, and now they're BOTH ignoring you, so you send a third drink down to see what the first two are up to and that one seems to have some affect, so you have another drink to keep the party going, and suddenly you're wasted and you never got to even enjoy being tipsy.

And it's not only Mr. Handrolled. Two separate members of the Blonde Squad suffered from such serious hangovers this weekend that they slept half their hangovers away, and let me emphasize that that does not normally happen to these girls. I'm seeing what seems like a RESURGENCE of heavy drinking all around me and it makes me feel partly responsible.

God, I missed my calling. I should have been a false prophet. I'd have been amazing. My eyes already glow blue anyway.

The long and short of it is that I thought, until I wrote all this out, that I was suddenly wanting to stay in and party less because Mr. Handrolled was starting to party so much more, and so he was pushing me in the opposite direction, and he was going to be mighty disappointed soon when the party girl he liked disappears for Shrewish Hag, and suddenly I'm thinking it's not his fault at all. Which makes me feel slightly less crazy, and also makes me think that my dates (and my friends) really are drinking this much to either dull pain, or have more fun, which is all well and good but I'd like not to depend on it. Can I be the same fun party girl without drinking quite so much?

And to really put the lid on things, it's possible I'm only thinking this way because I went to my first chiropractic appointment today and I feel old.