Friday, December 13, 2002
YOU'RE THE SALT IN MY STEW
Oh, honey pie. I miss you. I'm beginning to really regret kicking you out. It was a spur of the moment decision, I admit it. I just couldn't take your mood swings anymore! The ups, and then the terrible downs! To rise, only to plummet immediately after! And let's face it, the highs just weren't as high as they used to be. We tried, sure. Time was when one quick visit from you, and I could do anything, write anything, become anything. I was funny! I was the life of the party in my pants. Even if whatever you were talking about seemed pointless, I knew it would lead somewhere fun eventually. God, life was fun with you around. You could turn anything into a joke! Rejection letters, missed appointments, overdue taxes - they were all a barrel of laughs, as long as I had you near!
Maybe I blamed you for things that weren't your fault. I thought that you made me bitchy, and kept me from sleeping at night. It turns out, I'm just a bitch who can't sleep. But how would I have known, if we didn't take a little break? See, now that I'm all alone, sulking around the house, lacking the energy to even sit up straight, I have plenty of time to take a look at my own shortcomings. I'm a moody jerk, with or without you. I'm sorry for projecting, baby!
Sure, I'm less edgy without you around. Maybe a little bit more relaxed, a little more mellow. But I'm bored. I have nothing to say to anyone - except for maybe Steve and some of my morose loser friends who like to focus on the negative. But it's worse than just that - I'm impatient. I can't focus my thoughts.
Plus, I'm snacking! I thought snacking was for troubled souls. Snack, snack, snack! "Who snacks?" I used to ask, incredulously. Eating every few minutes, why? Why would you do that? But here I am, craving sugar, craving anything within reach. I never snacked when you were here, coffee. I hardly cared about eating at all.
Maybe I was a little obsessed. I'm not too proud to admit that. But if you come back, I promise, I won't get all weird about it. I'll still hang out with my other friends. I won't get all wishy-washy whenever you're not around.
I want you back, coffee. The world is even more irritating without you, and I don't even have the energy to put my irritation into words anymore. What good is a world where I don't have the energy to complain bitterly about everything under the sun?
Come back, coffee. I'm nothing without you.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
STONE SOUP LINE
Ok, so maybe when I talk to my friend, evil little sparks of doubt are ignited, and I do long for a more accepted assurance of love. One that is defined so well by society. It doesn't really mean I want to be in her Keds.
She may just be well meaning, as you say, and not realize that her version of happiness isn't everyone's. This "sacred contract" gets abused all the time, and married people fall out of love. It's not always forever. So does a band of gold from a man really mean more, than that he tries to make me laugh whenever I have had a bad day at work... or that he always makes sure that I am safe... or sticks up for me when I screw up... or makes me feel sexy even when I'm bloated and teary from PMS? We have a mutual love and consideration for each other. YET, my man IS an admitted marriageaphobe, like you may have suspected! He went through tough times after his own parent's divorce, and he doesn't want his future family to endure that. It's amazing he's actually turned out to be such a good guy. So should a wedding be such a huge issue then? Or have I taken my rocks and made stone soup?
I don't want to stay like this forever but why tear myself up over a ring when, in all other respects, the relationship is as it should be? He may never snap out of his phobia, but if he treated me like crap and I really thought he was stringing me along, I would be outta there. Let other people worry that we are "going nowhere" and I'm not pounding out the puppies soon enough. I don't want kids yet, so marriage isn't a necessity right now. He is.
Thanks Rabbit for your previous considerate response, you rock!
Of course marriage isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Of course the ring and the wedding and all that other shit are beside the point. All that matters is that you feel certain that his marriage phobia isn't indicative of how he feels about you, or indicative of his ability to make a long-term plan.
But maybe long-term plans are a crock of shit, too. I don't know. I guess that I personally feel attached to having some sense of forward momentum in my relationship. But I've made the mistake of moving in together too soon, and my god, that can be a huge nightmare if you really don't know each other well enough to be taking such a drastic step.
My experiences in this area have been all over the map: commitment-loving boyfriends who couldn't commit to me, commitment-phobic boyfriends who never left my side and were heartbroken when it ended, and a million other variations. Then you have my complicated responses to each situation. As a woman, you can sometimes find yourself campaigning for commitment out of some knee-jerk fear of a Howard Stern/Bunny Ranch world where men float from one blow-job provider to another, upgrading with the cool detachment of someone looking for a better deal on health insurance. Meanwhile, you're less committed than the guy is, truth be told.
This topic is beginning to bore me.
Are we all thoroughly bored now, or is it just me? Marriage, what is there to say about it, really? It all depends on the two people involved. It's like talking about adulthood. What the fuck is adulthood? It's something that happens to individuals. You can talk about specific adults, sure. But adulthood? Bah.
I'd rather talk about chocolate pudding. I made some the other night, and I think there still might be a cup in the fridge. If there is, it's really hard and solid, which is the best.
I'd better go check right now.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
WHY YOU GOTTA GO AND MAKE THINGS SO COMPLICATED?
I have a friend of 12 years, from home, who is married. She: Met him through a dating service and was engaged within a year, married in 2, and will soon breed. Me: Hardly. I have a boyfriend of 5 years, who moved out west, then I, for opportunity and good times. We are monogamous and love each other, yet we each live with housemates due to complicated circumstances, even though we're both around 30.
Issue: I love the girl, and we obviously have different priorities. It just seems like ever since she's had this extravagant wedding some months ago, and were talking extravagant, (like full cocktails with a different band before the actual dinner, open bar all night, gigantic florals costing more than my car, 7 course meal including presentation of the desert tables with an enormous illuminated ice sculpture, and a musical crescendo to the rolling away of walls.) Well, anyway, ever since this production, all she ever says to me are things like, "You're next!" or "Are you guys living together yet?" or "So have you talked to him about getting married?" or "Have you started to look for rings?" or "Have you discussed it yet?" or "So, has he talked about marriage yet?" Sometimes even cutting into the middle of a legitimate conversation about something completely different! We do plan on marrying eventually, but right now it's just not an issue. I don't feel I should have to re-explain or defend myself every time I talk to her. I would like to remain friends, but I feel that she is so aimed at making me feel ineffectual and lame because I don't have a ring. I protect myself out of sheer instinct by over-glorifying my "super-fun" life. I can't help stooping to her level of smugness! It typically goes like this: "Hey, I saw No Doubt, the Stones, and Tom Petty this month and my friend works backstage where I saw... and, I went to this great party... We climbed a mountain and then toured a lighthouse on a cliff of the ocean... then I met an artist who invited us to see.... SO, how are you doing?"
"SO, has he brought up the M word yet?"
I feel like our relationship is deteriorated into a match of My Life Is Better Than Yours. It's like comparing apples and oranges - we each have different ideals and goals. Still, she gets me thinking, "Do I really want this orange... Maybe an apple would be more filling." Then I remember that apple is covered in five feet of snow for half the year, has no hobbies of her own and her identity revolves around a total nerd in a boring suburban wasteland. Still, I can't handle this! Why does she really make me feel lame, and that my relationship is a sham because I don't have a big tacky ring? Why does this piss me off so much that I have resorted to crying to the Rabbit?!
In any case, the actual real question is: How to I get her to just shut the fuck up, already. Without losing her friendship. I have tried doing the "Look, I gotta go now..." in a reprimanding tone. But there it is the next time! Give me some witty, convoluted remarks that she won't get, but will make me feel better just saying them in her presence. Please work your crafty, rabbit magic so I can stay friends with her. Or do I even want to?
Hybrid California Orange
Just say, "Hey, don't be confused by the rocks that I got!" That's my new answer to everything. It's sort of another way of saying, "You don't have to feel so jealous of me, girlfriend. We both know I'm incredibly special and that my ass makes the world go around, but I'm also insanely down-to-earth, and for you to imply that my all-around perfection has gone to my head is merely a reflection of your own feelings of inadequacy. I am omniscient and omnipresent, and you will never so much as touch the hem of my white mink, unless you clear it with my publicist first."
I think it goes without saying that people who pay for illuminated ice sculptures shouldn't throw stones. Still, I don't think friends or family who ask about when you'll be getting married are always being competitive. A lot of people, particularly outside of the Golden State, worry that if you're not engaged within two years, your relationship is going nowhere, and is destined to end with one of you running off with the teenage Jehovah's witness who came to the door in the middle of another rented movie and swept you off your athletic-socked feet. All too often, this is exactly what happens.
People who are sure and committed in their relationships want everyone else to be sure and committed, too. A lot of the people who ask about marriage all the time are actually really happy in marriage and want the same for you.
Then again, a lot of people who ask about marriage all the time are incredibly bored or they're jealous of you and your devil-may-care lifestyle. You can't engage in a game of one-upmanship, though. It'll only eat away at you and make the issues at hand seem far more depressing and dramatic than they actually are.
Are you happy in your relationship? If so, tell her that you are, and tell her that you're not into getting married, so she should stop asking about it. It's not that complicated.
If you're not happy, then what's going on? You may not want a big tacky ring, but that doesn't mean you want to be stuck in a doomed alliance with someone who can't commit to anything at any level. When I was in a crappy relationship, big rings and weddings depressed me. Now I'm not nearly as confused by the rocks that they got.
What's your story?
California Navel-Gazing Orange,
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
A VERY SPECIAL MOESHA
Your last letter and response veered dangerously close to marriage-counselor territory. I mean, sure, we all would love to be passionate about building great relationsh...ZZZZZ. C'mon! Really great gifts are expensive mp3 players and bottles of really tasty alcohol! Next thing we know, you'll be advising people to give each other homemade books of coupons redeemable for a "Special Date Night." And if this makes me a bad form of crazy, then so be it.
In the spirit of the holiday season,
You're passionate about keeping me away from marriage-counselor territory, which is a great gift that can be redeemed for a "Special Date Night" with an unknown washed-up celebrity at a restaurant of your choice, as long as it's a Denny's.
But don't be confused by the rocks that I got. Unlike you humans, who are one-dimensional, woefully inflexible, and can't see past your next Fatburger, rabbits are complex and multi-faceted creatures with many contradictory sides to their personalities, one of them being sincerity. When humans express sincerity without self-consciousness, it may in fact signal an irreversible slide into cheesy hand-holding and faux-emotive excess ending with book contracts and guest appearances on Revealed with Jules Asner. Rabbits, in contrast, seem able to express sincerity every now and again without fearing publicists and capped teeth.
Humans prefer to turn the things they like into brands as one-dimensional as their personalities. The greatest sin of the brand is inconsistency. Rabbits, though, are by nature inconsistent, and therefore not easily branded.
Please keep the criticism coming. Conflict increases both entertainment value and blood circulation. Just remember that, in the spirit of the holiday season, you catch more bees with really great gifts. Until you're sending me expensive mp3 players and bottles of really tasty alcohol, don't expect me to keep the blog toaster set on "snide".
Monday, December 09, 2002
I notice that you're extremely good at dealing with self-hate. So I figure I'll give you my version, and see what you come up with. It's so pathetic that I don't even want to utter it: I can't get over my old boyfriend, and it's been more than a year. I torture myself by reliving our break-up, by stewing in the fact that he didn't care enough about me - or couldn't figure himself out - in order to try to make it work. We were together for a year and a half, and through that time we spent all of our time together, bonded intellectually and grew to really appreciate each other ... yet nevertheless I struggled to connect to him emotionally, always feeling that he was withdrawn, holding back, incapable of feeling or expressing things; of course instead of deciding he wasn't the right match for me, I kept trying. As one would imagine, in the end it didn't work. I continued to express my longing for connection, and he eventually felt so pressured that he ended things. But he wanted to stay best friends, which we were, until a few months ago when he started dating someone new - someone much younger than us.
Good sense tells me that I'm better off, that I'll find someone who seeks the same emotional connection that I do ... but this doesn't stop me from missing the genuine affection I shared with my old boyfriend - we had isolated ourselves unto our own universe, become each other's sole confidante (which I know sounds like a contradiction because in my heart of hearts I felt cut-off from him). Despite all reason I can't shake the idea that if he were only honest with himself, he'd realize the magnitude of what we meant to each other and would want the relationship back. Maybe I'm naive because this has been my most significant relationship. Reading what I've just wrote makes me feel so stupid. The answer sounds so obvious, that clearly what we had wasn't going to work and I should just stop wishing it would. This is a man who is ambivalent about his sexual identity, has a history of substance abuse, and generally has difficulty with emotion. But I think you can never really articulate why you love someone, why they mean something to you, why you continue to love them for quirky and bizarre reasons, even when they don't love you back or can't give what you wish they could...
Maybe the only thing to say to someone like me is to "keep trying". I mentioned self-hate at the beginning of this letter because I feel like if I weren't so self-hating it would be easier to see my ex's limitations as his own problem, without feeling that they somehow reflect an inadequacy on my part ... I have this unshakable feeling that once the "right" woman comes along he'll be able to be and give all of the things that he wasn't able to be and give to me. Maybe I'm the problem, or maybe timing was the problem (another painful idea) ... or maybe there isn't a "problem", it's just two people who didn't fit together, and as hard as I'm trying, I just can't seem to accept it. yuck yuck yuck ... I feel like some whiny Larry Springer guest ...
I wanted to write to you because your advice is often so right on the button and incisive ... and I could use some of that right now.
Being stuck sucks. But I don't think this is about love or your exboyfriend. Of course, this is an easy place to put your confusion and anger at yourself: the one who left you for someone younger is an endless source of jealousy and empty speculation, particularly if speculating is sort of a hobby of yours. "What does she have that I don't have? What do they do together? What kinds of conversations do they have? She can't be nearly as interesting or as complicated as me! If only he truly knew himself, if only he truly worked out his issues, he wouldn't be afraid to love someone who's similar to him, his true soulmate. Things are not as they should be, and only he can fix them!"
This is a convenient way to get the responsibility for change out of your hands and into someone else's, someone who's guaranteed not to do a thing, someone who's powerless to change anything about your life, someone who, if confronted on this responsibility, would declare you insane.
But that's part of it, isn't it? Choosing people who think your concerns and challenges are inconvenient and unwieldy and ultimately your fault, and then pushing them to their limit, past reason. You choose the knife and then throw yourself on it, over and over again. If he was wrong to think your concerns were inconvenient before, you'll work him over until you're such a menace that he's right. You know your own narrative arc from the beginning; you foreshadow your own demise.
Is this cause for self-hatred? Maybe, but to you, almost everything is. Your real problem is that you imagine that you're a very rare and terrible form of crazy, when in fact your form of crazy is so common and socially acceptable that you should hardly lop of more than your fair share of humble pie for it.
You have a lot to give. You want to build a good relationship and care passionately about it. These are two really great gifts that people with truly terrible forms of crazy don't have, so be thankful for them.
Your trouble is, you don't want to move on. You're afraid to say: I'm going forward alone, and I'm leaving my ex behind. You're afraid to have nothing to obsess about. When you feel sad, you attach it to him. When you feel lonely, you attach it to him. When you feel neutral, you make yourself feel bad by wondering what he and his new girlfriend are doing.
You need something more worthy to obsess about, something that belongs to you. If you don't do this, you'll just find another relationship, you'll cut yourself off from the world again, until you have nothing to give, and he leaves like the last one did. Relationships like this can't be sustained during the low times, because they're built on escape and denial and the illusion that two people together can utterly sidestep sadness or pain. You have to find some balance, and own your emotions instead of pushing them onto someone else, begging him to find a home for the things that you yourself have pushed out into the snow.
Once you have some balance in your life, when you're no longer obsessed or consumed by another person, you'll know it, because you'll still have sad days and lonely days and neutral days. Those days won't be associated with someone else. Those days will belong to you.
What else belongs to you? Find ways to own the things you have. Go looking for your rejected emotions and homeless, wandering selves, and invite them back in. Everyone is welcome: grief, despair, longing, desperation, anxiety, frustration, ill will, sluggishness, jealousy, fear, irritation, guilt. When all the ugly orphans come home, the cute ones will show up, too: imagination, excitement, love, generosity. Warm them up and feed them and soon they'll all look the same, and you'll love them all unconditionally, or at least accept them and allow them in your life.
Let all your emotions exist without judging them, and others won't judge you for them either. Work on being more open. Don't go looking for love, just make some friends and see how you feel about them over time. Present yourself honestly: you're complicated, you have a lot going on. Don't make apologies for who you are. Just look at the lunatics and freaks who not only refused to apologize for being half crazy, but they wrote books and made films and played songs and they were embraced for their complexity, because they embraced their complexity, first and foremost. You can be sensitive and listen and give to other people and still not make apologies for who you are.
You have nothing to apologize for. Forget the past. Open your eyes and let the world in.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
PERSONALITY DISORDER OF THE WEEK
Avoidant Personality Disorder
A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
(1) avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
(2) is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
(3) shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
(4) is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations
(5) is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
(6) views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
(7) is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing
[APA's Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV-TR 2000]
We're going to have to recycle the personality disorders now that we've run out of them. If only the APA could dream up some new categories for us!
Avoidant Personality Disorder is moderately amusing, but what about those humans who avoid social settings because they consider themselves far more fascinating than anyone else in the world, and find that normal humans rarely allow them to prattle on aimlessly about themselves in the same way that their rarefied little groups of highly dysfunctional, pandering friends seem to? I mean, obviously most of these people become professors and inflict their windbag tendencies on college-age kids, who deserve it. But what about the less qualified windbags? What happens to them? Are there legions of self-involved, pathologically superior navel-gazers roaming the earth, untreated?
Indeed, there are. "Bloggers", I think they're called.
I know you are, but what am I?
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
CAN SHE BAKE A TRI-COLOR TOFU TERRINE, BILLY BOY, BILLY BOY?
Well, I guess that I fell into the whole "perfect thanksgiving" hole fairly easily. I had some fellow students over from the culinary school and made way freaking too much food. (Proof available here.) I even smoked my own salmon and scallops! Have you ever smoked salmon? Fer christsakes. You will notice, if you go to the page, that I even made "special" dishes with each of my diners in mind.
By the time that I sat down to eat (ok, so I had a few bong hits first) I was so exhausted that I couldn't even taste the food.
The punchline is that everybody else had the best time - my mom even likes my pumpkin pie better than her own. And, for at least one of them, it was the best thanksgiving ever. (Ok, so she is from Japan - but still, standards are standards.)
It wasn't until afterwards, while I was doing the webpage, that I realized how insane I had been. Then I read the rabbit and it all became clear somehow. I am not the world's most selfless guy - far from it. Still, my suffering was an excellent experience for all my guests. Perhaps all we need to do in order to ensure that all of our holidays are terrific is to surround ourselves with people who will go insane for our happiness. Or move to Japan.
Happy waistline-expansion season,
What? No stuffing? No mashed potatoes? Are you kidding me? You had time to wrap crust around a slab of brie, to assemble a tri-color tofu terrine, to bake brioche rolls and french bread braids and pumpkin pie and cookies, to debone the goddamn turkey, and you didn't have time to whip up some Stove Top? Are you nuts? How long was that turkey soaking in brine, 3 days? You had time to turn a turkey into a gherkin, but you didn't have time to whip up some mashed potatoes?
No wonder your guests look so depressed. Or maybe it's your combination of masochism and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder that gets them down.
Still, it's nice that you've found a focus for your personality defects. Why seek mental health, really, when you can just channel your insanity into productive and/or lucrative activities?
Sadly, all narcissism got me was this stupid blog.
Full of functionless dysfunction,