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Ending well

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

When I wrote this, I thought I was writing just for me.  But today, I kind of want to share it.

:::::

For some time now, I have been in… a relationship?  Perhaps not the right word.

Something special.  Something that burned fast and bright, like a bottle rocket – but after a short time, burned right out.  Something that, like so many beautiful things, was fleeting.

While the ending of it was sad, our parting conversation was honest, warmhearted, and generous – to an eavesdropper with no context, we may have seemed enamored.  We expressed care and respect for one another, demanding nothing in return, gracefully letting each other go.

I have never experienced such a healthy goodbye with a man.

We successfully cared for, and received care from, each other.  We successfully opened our hearts and dropped our defenses.  We successfully took a risk.  And in the end, for legitimate reasons, we successfully walked away, shoulders back and selves intact.

For me, this is a victory.  Just because it hurt did not mean that I was losing – the hurt actually meant that I WON.  It meant that I had allowed someone in – something that I find difficult to do.

I experienced a relationship ending well – and it’s one of the most radical things I have ever done.

:::::

There are few things in life as wonderful as a good man.

Take heart.  They do exist.

Jane Austen makes me LOL

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

“Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains.”
-Elizabeth Bennet, “Pride and Prejudice”

Hypothetically

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Let’s pretend that there’s a girl.  She’s a nice girl with a lot of friends, and at least moderately interesting.  She has hobbies.  She has a creative mind.  Some might even find her pretty.  She is independent, a la Kelly Clarkson and Destiny’s Child – a rent check in one hand and a glass of Pinot in the other.

She has been making her life spin on her own for a good long while now.  And while she might like to meet a good man someday, in theory, she would rather be alone than wish that she was.

However, hypothetically speaking, let’s just say that out of curiosity, she decided to try online dating.

And hypothetically, she was matched with this man.*

And while she is sure that he is a very nice person, in this make believe scenario, thus ended the completely theoretical experiment.

*Also, hypothetically, of course, if said girl happened to have an imaginary friend named the Handy Graham, this would, in theory, be his favorite story.

In response

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Hearken back to Monday’s post.  What was meant to be a shoulder shrug, a lark, a lighthearted jab at my pal Andy, actually sparked quite the response.  While I got a lot of “You go, girl!” comments from women, I have been much more impacted by what I have heard from the men – whether in comment, email, or response via their own blog post.  And while there is no way that I will be able to say everything that there is to say today (yeah, or ever), here is what has been rattling around in my brain this week.

If there is anything that I want to be, it is humble – humble, and teachable.  So THANK YOU to the brave dudes (especially Joey – the catalyst for many of these thoughts today) who had the guts – spine – balls – to challenge my thinking.

Which brings me to my first point: it was wrong of me to emasculate men – denying them of the very thing that makes them male (um… balls… sheesh, I can’t wait to see what keywords bring people to this post) – for not being able to communicate in the way that most women would like them to.  I am not a man-hater – I LOVE men! – and in no way desire to make eunuchs out of a bunch of surely well-meaning guys.  I’m sorry for sounding – snip, snip – harsh and judgmental.

Here’s the deal: in an ideal world, men would communicate clearly.  In an ideal world, women would communicate clearly.  In an ideal world, both sexes would have eyes to see and ears to hear the other person loud and clear.

That is obviously not the world that we live in – due to culture and socialization and upbringing and experiences.  So things get a little bit muddy, a little bit complicated, and sometimes, a little bit… hostile.  Men aren’t up front with their feelings.  Women send mixed signals – a “come hither” straight into a stiff arm.  One person doesn’t know who he is, the other doesn’t know what she wants – or vice versa.  Television only adds to the confusion, portraying men as bumbling idiots, and women as capable-yet-snarky ice queens (think “Everybody Loves Raymond,” or “Home Improvement”).

Who are we?  Who should we be?  Men and women alike are confuzzled.

I so wish that was a real word.

When it comes to love, we’ve all been hurt.  We’ve all been disappointed.  We’ve all got skeletons in the closet, and wounds that haven’t quite healed.  And for as much as we want them, it’s easy to make the opposite sex into the “enemy.”  I have my own stories – things that have happened that have made me a bit gun-shy when it comes to putting myself out there – and when I think of these disgraces, even years later, I still want to bury my head in the sand.

I think it’s safe to say that on a very fundamental level, women want to feel “worth it” to a guy – worth the risk, worth whatever it takes.  But hello – this is 2009.  A man can’t exactly prove his devotion by riding into battle with her hanky in his pocket.  So some of us feel like the least he could do is say, “Hey, you seem great.  I’d love to take you out sometime?”

Then again, the feminist movement sort of threw a wrench in that plan.  We women-folk sure asserted our independence, didn’t we?  Dang it.  We’ve stabbed ourselves in the back.  But that’s another post entirely…

Bottom line: I am backing off from the stance I took on Monday, however playfully I meant it when I first wrote it.  I don’t expect for a guy to take the reins, run the show, ask me out, sweep me off my feet, order me the lamb chop at some swanky restaurant while I sit mute and adoring.  Can you imagine?  Me?  Being conquered?  I do hope for a partnership, with honest and frank communication, equal parts respect and affection – and prior to a relationship, I think that means that both parties are going to need to communicate our interest in whatever way makes sense.

Sigh.  This just zapped every ounce of brain power I possess.

We all just want to matter to someone.

I wish it was easy.  And I hope that one day, it will be.

Why girls aren’t asking YOU out

Monday, March 9th, 2009

The way I see it,

1) If a guy is interested in me, he should have the guts – spine – balls – to do something about it.

2) If he is interested in me and does NOT have the guts – spine – balls – to do something about it, then he’s not really someone I want to be with anyway.

3) If he is not interested in me, he is not asking me out.

In any case, I leave it up to him.  It’s as simple as that.

(Andy Merrick, you know I love you – you and your many, many words on the subject.  Are you ever going to finish your series, slacker?)

Man! I feel like a woman.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

When I lived in Seattle, I was very, very independent. I lived alone. I paid my bills. I assembled my own Target furniture. When I dropped off my car for a repair in Ballard, I walked the 3 ½ miles to work rather than call for a ride. It wasn’t that people weren’t willing to help – because I had amazing people in my life there – it was more of my own attitude, the attitude that had been modeled to me. The liberated, liberal upper left-hand corner of the nation requires a certain self-sufficiency.

Seattle taught me to take care of myself. Seattle expected me to take care of myself.

Let me tell you what I love about living in Nashville – chivalry is not dead. Men get the doors – front doors, car doors, office doors. If there is something heavy to be carried, a man won’t let a woman carry it – even if she is capable. When a girl needed a chair at 3 Crow Bar, Hunter jumped out of his seat to offer it up. When Julie, Mel, and I have needed various things hung on our walls, Josh and Paul have been at the ready. When the kitchen drawer broke and all of the pans crashed onto my foot (and I swore and maybe cried for a second), Seth told me that he would take care of it – and he fixed the drawer. IT WAS A MIRACLE!

Because I have never been taught to expect these kindnesses, every favor feels like a marvel. Even when I was walking on a sidewalk with a guy, and he switched places with me so I would be further from traffic, and I thought, “That’s ridiculous – if a car swerves, WE’RE BOTH DEAD – why the effort?” – still, there was a little part of my spirit that felt so appreciative.

In Seattle, the feminist culture taught me to never rely on a man, and how to stand on my own two feet – and I’m glad. I prefer to drive. I can order my own meal, thank you very much. I am well-practiced in balancing stacks of papers, groceries, books, and a tray of lattes, all the while teetering on high heels.

But Nashville is teaching me what it means to open up to those sweet souls who treat me with kindness, just because – just because I’m a woman, and just because they care. As a result, my hard, independent, feminist heart is softening, and growing, and more willing to receive.

But promise me – the moment I start singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” give me a swift punch in the throat.

Thoughts thought in the last 10 minutes

Friday, December 5th, 2008

“I’m tired.”
“Really tired.”
“I need coffee.”
“I didn’t get coffee this morning.”
“I also didn’t shower.”
“That’s beside the point.”
“I should go downstairs to the coffee shop.”
“Okay, I’ll go.”
“This elevator takes forever.”
“Oh no, someone else is getting on the elevator.”
“Awkward.”
“Pretend to count change in your wallet.”
“Watch the lights – floor 5… 4… 3… 2…”
“Finally – lobby!”
“Walk quickly.”
“Wait – there’s a piano in the lobby?”
“Why?”
“For the holiday spirit?”
“Is she playing ‘Piano Man’?”
“That’s weird.”
“If I could be supplied with caffeine intravenously, I would.”

”I’d strap on a CamelBak of espresso.”
”They should market those! I SHOULD MARKET THOSE!”
“I need a big cup of coffee.”
“Oh my goodness, is that Patrick Swayze?”
“No, but it looks like him.”
[sing along with “Every Breath You Take,” playing on the coffee shop speakers]
“Hey, that guy is singing, too!”
“So is the girl behind the counter!”
“This is fun.”
[I keep calling baby, baby, pleeeeeeeease…]
“Good song.”
“Wow, that guy really looks like Patrick Swayze.”
“Remember when you saw the Police in Seattle last year?”
“Sting is attractive.”
“Oddly.”
“But not as attractive as Kevin Costner.”
“I can’t believe I’m attracted to Kevin Costner.”
“Or Dennis Quaid.”
“But yes I can.”
“They’re ATTRACTIVE.”
“Is Patrick Swayze attractive?”
“Not really.”
“OH. MY. GOODNESS.”
“What’s this I hear?”
“Is this ‘The Time of My Life’?”
“Yes!”
“Where’s Patrick Swayze man?”
“Does he care that his song is playing?”
“Dude, it’s your song!”
“There he goes – out the door.”
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
“Exact change for coffee – win.”
“Hurry back to elevator.”
“Yessss – elevator to myself… except… wait…”
“Mullet man is getting on.”
“Don’t stare.”
“Look at the ground.”
“But… that MULLET.”
“Annie, don’t stare.”
“Ewwwww.”
“Look at your coffee.”
“Back to your desk.”

“So many brochures to stuff.”
“But first.”
“Any emails?”
“Yes!”
“What does it say?”
“HAHA!!!!”
“It says, ‘Sometimes I wish I was like one of those rainforest frogs who could switch genders and have sex with itself and get pregnant independently. I mean I don’t ACTUALLY wish that. But sometimes I do.’”

“OH MAN.”
“I love that friend.”

Nope. Not telling you who the friend was. But let’s just say that when it comes to drama with the menfolk, sometimes I feel the exact same way.

More "girl" than "grrrl"

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Gentlemen, for weathering yesterday’s post, you are nothing short of saints. You steered clear of the comment board (good call), and surely felt a bit disturbed by the festival of estrogen emblazoned across Maundering Pondering. Well, guess what? This blog’s for you.

I would like to talk about Batman.

For nearly 26 years, I have been able to assertively declare, “I have never seen a Batman movie.” I had attempted to watch “Batman Begins” a couple of years ago, when it was first released on DVD. My friend Bramer and I sat down to watch it on my 13” TV screen, attempting enthusiasm. But 20 minutes into the ninja fighting, we looked at each other and said, “Maybe we should just talk about our feelings instead?” My Batman effort was curtailed.

Until yesterday. Yesterday, I started at the beginning with, yes, once again, “Batman Begins.” I don’t know why. No one was pressuring me to watch it. No one had told me, “This movie will change your life.” No one had convinced me that if I didn’t see “Batman Begins,” I would surely shrivel into a dense, moronic imbecile, incapable of functioning or conversing with the effortlessly hip. Okay, so maybe a few guys told me that – but that was simply a sign of their insecurity of winding up dense, moronic imbeciles, incapable of functioning or conversing with the effortlessly hip.

Me? I just added it to my Netflix queue, and it showed up.

I watched it. I watched the whole thing. And I’ll be honest: I was relatively unmoved. Unmoved in the same way I was unmoved when I saw “King Kong,” featuring Naomi Watts accompanied by her vacuous, vacant stare. Unmoved in the same way I was unmoved when I saw “The Matrix,” featuring Keanu Reeves accompanied by his vacuous, vacant stare. At least “Batman Begins” starred Christian Bale, but am I giving myself away as a complete geek if I say that I found him exponentially more appealing as Jack Kelly in “Newsies”?

I am such a girl.

During college, most of my friends were guys. In some ways, it’s much easier to hang out with guy friends – maybe because my emotional expectations are lower. Don’t get me wrong – I have some solid, quality men-folk in my life, and they are the reason that my heart hasn’t given up hope on their sex entirely – but as a general rule, my friendships with guys are pretty surface-level. I am choosier about my girlfriends, and thus, historically, I have had fewer lady pals. But in the past two years or so, I have been overwhelmed by amazing women. I’ve been gaggled – back in Seattle, and here in Nashville. I love my girlfriends, and I love being a girl, and I honestly don’t think that I will ever see a James Bond movie.

Consider my cover blown.

Because I’m feeling ballsy

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Lately, I have been made acutely aware of a certain discord in romantic relationships between people of my generation. Now, I am not currently dating anyone. However, these observations have come from my own experiences as well as those around me – I’m not pointing the finger at any one person, or any one gender, for that matter. I’m just going to share my thoughts, simple as they may be.

If you’re feeling particularly sensitive today, maybe you should take some deep breaths before reading this. Are you ready? Consider yourself warned.

I have noticed that most humans are looking for fulfillment. In my experience, women generally look for that fulfillment in the context of relationship, while men generally look for that fulfillment in the context of autonomy.

I said generally. Stop bristling.

So when men and women interact, and coexist, and begin to let their guard down with each other, generally a conflict rises out of the tension between what they are each looking toward for fulfillment: the woman tends to look to the man, while the man tends to look away. The woman asks, “Do you love me? Do you think I’m beautiful? Am I worth it to you?” And the man says, “I can’t be responsible for you. I’m not ready to commit. I need to be free.”

The man sees the woman as needy. The woman sees the man as an asshole.

I propose that we need to stop looking toward the wrong things for fulfillment in the context of romantic relationships. Women need to stop expecting the man to fulfill her. Men need to stop looking toward independence to fulfill him.

Again. GENERALLY.

Women, we need to stop asking the hubba-hubba man to dictate our worth. If the God of the universe created us, and knows us inside and out, and calls us worthy and beautiful and captivating, then honestly, what else do we need? A man is just a man. He’s never going to be enough to fulfill us – it’s unfair to expect that of him. And a man’s opinion of us – favorable or otherwise – happens to have absolutely no bearing on our worth. So maybe we should just start trusting that our worth is already determined, and nothing can ever change that. Let’s rest in the fact that we are LOVED, and move forward into our relationships with confidence. We’ve been watching too much of “The Notebook.”

And men, maybe it’s time that you stop looking toward experiences and autonomy and wild adventures to fulfill that hole inside. Being in a healthy relationship with a good woman will not be an emasculating thing – in fact, some of the most honorable men I know have told me that their marriages have been the biggest and best adventure that one could possibly embark on. That restless ache inside of you is not going to be fulfilled by freedom or the mountains or the ability to sow your oats or a lack of responsibility. That hole is only filled when we ask God, “Who do you say I am?” I have watched too many men turn their back on good, substantial women, for fear of being “tied down.”

What do I know? Am I hypocritical? I’m just a 25-year old single girl who, trust me, does NOT believe these things easily. I want a man to come and sweep me off my feet and tell me that I am beautiful and that he will never, ever leave me. I really want that – and I have asked for it and expected it. But as a result, I have been severely disappointed and deeply hurt by numerous guys. It has felt unfair. It has left me tempted to launch into bitter diatribes at weddings, and bridal showers, and every time I get another Save-the-Date card in the mail. I am definitely a person in process.

But I invite you to be a person in process alongside me. Because the way that it’s going isn’t working.

A stack of love letters

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Yesterday, I spent upwards of 5 hours shredding documents at my work. I filled 6 Hefty bags full of confetti, and succeeded without getting a single paper cut. I only jammed the shredder once, and wound up completely sweaty from the heat of the hulking machine. At financial companies, they don’t mess around with their shredders – they invest in high-powered, serious beasts.

And so, feeling incredibly satisfied from my completion of the monumental shredding task, I was reminded that I had a stack of papers at home that I have been meaning to shred. I brought them in today, ready to feed them to the grating teeth of the destroyer. Some old bank statements, credit card applications, and…

Some letters. Letters from ex-boyfriends.

I’ve had this stack of letters for a while. While dating each of these guys, I saved cards and notes, and printed out certain emails, positive that these words were going to be important memories to share with our hypothetical-someday-grandchildren.

I don’t know a girl who doesn’t, on some level, think this way.

When I moved out of my apartment in Seattle last summer, I purged myself of so many unnecessary things. But for some reason, I bundled up these letters. I couldn’t get rid of them. They reminded me of the existence of love – and that maybe it could happen for me again.

Recently, I started feeling like maybe these letters – filled with once-meaningful, but what I now see as cheap words and empty promises – were weighing me down. Why was I holding on to them?

I mean, really: these are the same guys that propelled me to write a song that ends, “I don’t have much heart left to break.” Why keep any – any – remembrance of them? Good riddance, right?

So I brought them to work today. To shred the hell out of them.

But before I did, I took one last read-through.

And call me crazy, but I cannot destroy these letters.

Some of the kindest words ever bestowed on me are in these letters. I had to re-read certain paragraphs, baffled by the pure goodness and generosity and love that had, at one point, been poured out onto me. I had forgotten how these words felt. These words bring life. And though I am not expecting a resurrection of romance with any of these guys, these letters make my heart believe in the connection between two humans. They remind me that I actually do have a lot of heart left to break.

And that’s a good thing.

Maybe someday, I will shred, burn, bury these letters. But not today. I can’t do it today.