November 3, 2008
Turns out, I write the most (and perhaps the best) when I am struggling with the world and my place in it. That’s why I’ve been gone for a while: I’M SO HAPPY. On some level, I guess I wish I had more time to be depressed….to think about meaning and suffering and purpose, and then put my thoughts into words. But, between a job that I love and a city that I’m enjoying exploring, I just can’t seem to find the time. And now that I’ve forced myself to sit and write (after all, we gained an hour today), I can think of nothing more than to say, Hello World, Thank you for the beautiful day today!
I know, puke, right? I’m sure it’ll change soon and I’ll be heartbroken, or forlorn, or in some state of malaise, during which I’ll have lots to say…. but for now, I’m gonna enjoy being happy. Just happy.
I think I’ve also been avoiding the blog because I’ve made a firm decision not to talk about work. At all. Ever. And seeing that I’m spending the majority of my waking hours there, it’s hard to get focused on much else. But, I’m starting to settle in more, and I think as I embark on LA adventures, I’ll have plenty of writing opportunities. So, please forgive my absence, and stay tuned for updates on life in LA.
Just to give you a general sense, my day looks something like this:
I wake up around 5:30 and go to the gym. (This is on a perfect day, of course… a day when I’m choosing to be a disciplined adult and not a child who presses snooze 12 times… Admittedly, I’m more often a child). The gym is a VERY interesting place. It’s in hollywood. People watching at its finest. I went to a group fitness class one day and could have sworn I walked onto the set of Chorus Line. People were warming up with high kicks and triple chasses. The guys all looked like they walked out of calvin klein ads and, of course, the girls next to my spot on the floor were clearly doubles for Beyonce and Heidi Klum. I almost left once the music started, the disco ball dropped from the ceiling and begin rotating, and the instructor shouted “five, six….five, six, seven, eight.” But the fly girl in me couldn’t resist, and I was caught up in no time. (and I worked extra ’cause I’ll be damned if miss shakira-look-alike does more push ups than me!)
Anyhow, I’ve slowed down a bit in the mornings, and am now taking a yoga class. The instructor is like the Bob Ross of Yoga. Everything is “beautiful” and “happy.” It suits me for the time being.
I head back home, where I shower, listen to NPR, put a suit on (yuck), pack my heals in my briefcase, and start walking to the metro in more comfortable shoes. I love this walk in the morning. I pass the shopkeepers opening up for the day, the homeless people on my street, the Los Feliz newspaper stand, and lots of other people gearing up for the day, which is still so full of possibilties. I decend into the metro station and jump on my train heading toward downtown. I read the paper, or a book, or – most frequently – talk to or stare at people on the train.
I arrive downtown, grab a cup of joe at the coffee stand, and head into a job that I’m crazy about.
I’ve just realized that this is most boring blog in the history of blogs. So I’m just going to stop and write more later when I actually have something to say.
September 20, 2008
Oh my God, I live in LA. I find myself saying that in my head approximately once every 3.7 seconds. I still can’t seem to wrap my mind around it. I haven’t yet been here two weeks, so it feels like I’m on vacation and that I’m just decorating my hotel room. It does not feel like I actually pay rent here, or that the post man delivers mail to me here, or that I’m becoming a regular at the coffee shop across the street. But, it’s real. This is my life…in LA. And, so far, I give it two thumbs up. Of course, there are some things I’m still getting used to. Namely, the traffic. The massive amounts of people everywhere I go. The prices for things. Seeing the homeless woman across the street every day pacing back and forth by the bus stop, picking out food from the trash can. (Of course this goes on in Ohio, but it wasn’t happening right outside my window.) Sometimes I find myself just watching her, wondering what her story is…where her family is…and why she’s out there and I’m in here.
Anyhow, I’ve been really enjoying my new neighborhood, homeless people with mental problems and all. I can walk to fifty different restaurants and yoga studios, the post office, the bank, the movie theater, lots of coffee shops, boutiques that are too expensive and trendy for me to appreciate, the library (got a card my first day!), and the subway (which apparently no one “cool” takes, but I’m gonna turn that around). And, I’ve caught myself thinking, wow, this is what it’s like to live my life. And i love it. Despite the incredibly deep feelings of missing my parents, my sister and my niece, and my friends, I’m happier than i have ever been. I’m not really doing anything differently…I guess I just have more room to breathe. And I’m ready to plant some roots.
As for details, I’m still just settling in. Lots of painting, lots of shopping for odds and ends that you inevitably need when you move (and i’m the brokest – is that a word? – i’ve been in my life), and lots of arranging and rearranging furniture. But, the place is coming together and I’m ready for visitors :) My cousin JP and I just got back from a Dodgers game, which was great (despite the fact they lost). At one point, between innings, there was one of those animation races on the scoreboard – a red car, blue car, and white car – and there were three participants on the filed (in a red shirt, blue shirt, and white shirt) cheering on their cars. The white car won…and they guy wearing the white shirt actually won a car that was driven out on the field. It was like Price is Right. Just to entertain the fans. But then, the hipster crew sitting around me started chanting (in sing-songy baseball fashion): “F*ck the Homeless” clap, clap, clap clap clap. It was their way of saying, “great idea: give away cars to people who don’t need them when there are people sleeping in the streets.” It was at that moment that I knew this was my new home.
I also got a call from the woman who helped me open up my bank account at Bank of America – I had given her my cell phone number when I opened up the account. She just called to check on me and asked me to have coffee with her on Sunday. I know – crazy, right? She’s Armenian and wants to teach me about the culture and introduce me to the entire Little Armenian population (apparently, I life right next door to Little Armenia). So, I’m making friends and, for the most part, I’m liking everyone.
Yesterday, however, I met one of my neighbors and I realized, ohhhhhh, this is what people meant when they warned me about the stereotypical LA person and the huge LA ego. In five minutes, not hours, this guy told me about all the moves he’s directed and the two albums he’s helped to produce. He thew out several actors names. I started to just nod and smile and pretend to be wowed, but but then I realized that the best thing I can do is be honest. For one, I don’t know any of these people and I shouldn’t pretend I do. And for two, I like sending a subtle message: “I don’t know these people and you’re not going to impress me by telling me that you do. I don’t care.”
Ok, speaking of impressing people, I need to write quickly about my night last night before I banish it from my mind forever. Two words: speed dating. The roommate of my good friend Crazy Chicken (who lives here) asked me to join her and her friend, and I was thrilled because I was in desperate need of some girl time. Don’t get me wrong, I love JP. He’s been a God-send with doing all the guy stuff around here (although I have used my new drill myself!) And I love my male friends here (with whom I’ve been spending all of my time). But, if i hear one more sports statistic or any further gratuitous commentary about the legs (or breasts or hair or ass) on some girl walking by, I might drive to the top of the Hollywood sign and jump off. So even though the speed dating event involved men, I also knew it would involve single women, who I was actually more interested in meeting.
As for the event, all I can say is thank God there was a bar there. I really needed a glass of wine when I saw the group of men lining up for the “dates”: bald men (mind you, this was a “young professionals” event), men in polyester rayon blends, men with THICK mustaches, men with mullets, and – my fav – men who made comments such as, “wow, I’m really glad they gave us name tags because it gives us guys an excuse to look at your breasts.” i wish i were kidding. i do. but, I’m not. But, I tried to be a good sport. I played along. How it worked was this: Everyone got an index card and a name tag for our first name and our assigned dating number. All the girls stood in one line and all the boys in another. We faced each other, chatted for four minutes, and then all the girls moved one man to the right. We were told to write the assigned dating number down for anyone who we were interested in and then turn our card in (on which we wrote our email address too) at the end of the night. The organizers would then look for mutual matches (ex: girl 16 wrote down boy 7 and boy 7 also wrote down girl 16) and do the exchanging of email addresses.
Even though I didn’t meet anyone who I would want to date, I did meet some interesting people. I met an astrologer, who actually found a soft spot in my heart because he’s a nerdy PhD and has the same name as my father…who is also a nerdy PhD :) I also met a masseuse, a magician (yea, he was showing magic tricks during his “dates”…note to men reading this: don’t do that. don’t ever, ever do that.), a production assistant (which i think means unemployed, but I’m not sure) and a wine buyer. I met two guys from Ohio: one who graduated from Bowling Green in 2007 (who I could have babysat) and one who played football for and graduated from Ohio University in 1992 (who could be my father). Yeah. So, I made the best of the situation and quickly made friends with the bartenders. They couldn’t make good drinks to save their lives, but they were entertaining…after all, they are all actors in their “real” lives.
Long story short (because I could write so much more!), I’m having fun. I’m loving life. I’m going to see Nelly at the Jimmy Kimmell show on Monday. Holla.
September 7, 2008
Wow. I’m back from a long sabbatical. I’m sure you are all thinking that I ran off with Starbucks Stud (from my last post) and am living happily ever after. Not quite. I am living…and happily….hopefully ever after. The last two months have been a whirlwind. I turned 30, finished my law clerk position, packed up my life (into 56 boxes), exchanged often difficult goodbyes with family and friends, and set off on my trip out west with my cousin JP. We are currently driving – excuse me, he his driving (as he has been the entire time, god love him) – through Texas. I’m typing on my laptop, looking out the window at those huge three-prong windmills. I’m certain this is a promising development – using wind as a resource – but they kind of scare me. They look like cold pricklies. Not warm fuzzies. Maybe we can paint them sunflower yellow or something. Just to cheer them up a bit.
Anyhow, I think I’ve not been writing because what I’ve been feeling lately can’t really be put into words. I’ve tried to think of how this feels – moving across the country alone at 30 to start a new job and a new life – and all I can come up with is a lava lamp. Lame, I know. But I feel like this blob, hot pink as it were, kind of floating through a larger blob… changing shape, changing directions, running into things. The outline of myself has become less clear, but I’m ok with it. I’m simply trying to observe each moment as I flow through this move.
I’ve been thinking a lot about an analogy my mom emailed to me to help me deal with this major life change, particularly to cope with saying goodbye to everyone I love. She told me to think of life like a river; everyone in the world is in this river together. Sometimes, you float along with the same people for a while and it’s wonderful. But then, for whatever reason, currents change, or there’s a fork up ahead, or you get hung up on a rock, and all of a sudden you find yourself surrounded by different people. All your previous river mates are still in the river, but no longer next to you. If you try to fight the current, by swimming backwards or by trying to catch up with someone a mile ahead, you’re simply going to wear yourself out. And, worse, you’re going to miss out on the people and the view around you at that time.
The key is that you have to trust the river because it allows everyone to live his or her own life gracefully. You can’t control where others stop for a break or whether they take a riskier path over some rocks, or a less risky path in the slow lane. All you can do is accept everyone where there are and enjoy the scene around you. The river changes constantly, and maybe those who were around you five miles ago, will meet up with you five miles down the river. Maybe not.
This thinking has helped me so much, particularly over the last several days as I’ve been on the road. I’ve found myself wanting to look back — which is fine to wave “Hello” or “I miss you” — but once I realize I’m not enjoying the scene around me, then I have to regroup. And sometimes, I catch myself looking ahead — already in LA when I’m really at the Sooners game in Oklahoma — and I have to remind myself to be where I am. Even if the river is muddy, or rough, or too slow, or too fast, it’s where I am. And that’s exactly where I should be.
Speaking of which, we just floated into New Mexico. I’m gonna go soak it up.
July 28, 2008
Even though I’ve come out, I’m still failing in my efforts to write more. I did, however, spend two hours trying to figure out what the heck an RSS feed is and how how I could get that little orange volume-looking button on my page. I got frustrated and failed at that too. But I was successful in putting on a link (to your right) where you can go to get an email update from my blog. It’s supposed to send you an email every time I write. (This way, Laurie, you don’t have to check it every morning and get pissed off when there’s no new posting – I’m sorry for not entertaining you more often. wink!)
Judy even instructed to write more: since in “real life” I am usually more worried about others’ feelings than my own, I should use blogging to express my true voice. Which, I do. But, here I am, still not writing. I know it’s because I have so many feelings about moving 3000 miles from home, and I’m hesitant to unleash them for fear that I may not stop crying — or laughing, or screaming with excitement, or sweating with anxiety, etc. — once i start typing. Maybe I’m being a big huge baby about this, but it’s hard. I hate being an adult.
By the way, on my blog, I’m going to forever refer to Judy as J-Know. ‘Cause she’s wise and sassy.
So, since I can’t yet write about anything deep, I’ll stick with a surface story. It’s a goodie.
I treat myself to Starbucks every Friday morning. Monday through Thursday I actually make it to the gym and just drink the crappy coffee there. But Friday, I sleep until 7:30 — well, I set my alarm for 6:00, pretending I’ll get up and workout, but I press snooze 9 times instead — and stop at Starbucks on my way into the office. Call me a sellout, but I love everything about the place, and this one in particular because it’s in the hip area of town. The music is fresh (I know, I’m not credible with statements on music…I still love BelBivDevoe but I feel like I can at least tell a good tune from a bad one), the service is chipper (and everyone who works there has great skin, which makes me feel so happy and clean), and the coffee…well, it just feels so good when it hits my lips. I haven’t worked up to ordering anything greater than the bold brew (room for cream), but I aspire to one day confidently order something sexy like a “triple shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha, heavy on the mocha.” (That will probably be awhile since I’m nervous just thinking about having to say that aloud.)
But the best thing I like about this particular Starbucks is – or, more appropriately, was – the clientele. I had a Starbucks romance.
Much like the coffee I love, he was tall, dark, bold, made my heart race, and I imagine he would have warmed my hands on a chilly morning. I don’t think I ever really did want to meet him, because, after all, the fantasy is always better than the reality, right? I’m sure if I had talked to him, he’d do something weird like constantly refer to himself in the third person. But, from a distance — he, sitting on the corner couch, me, standing at the creamer station — we had a lovely affair. I’d see him from the window as I walked up, and he was usually busy grading papers of some sort. It looked like complex math, which made me weak in the knees. I’d come in, smile, order my coffee, smile, get my creamer, smile, walk out, blush, smile…and basically skip to my car, I would be so giddy. This went on for several Fridays. He stopped grading papers at one point, but was still there at 8:25 am with books I could tell he was reading for fun. Sigh.
One Friday, I was a bit of a mess. I had gone out the night before and didn’t make it home when I should have. I’m quite sure WhereInTheWorld and my co-clerks had something to do with it. I’m quite sure it was fun. But, I wasn’t pleased with myself when I woke up Friday morning after pressing snooze a good 15 times. I didn’t have time to shower, so I just threw on the jeans on the floor next to my bed. Classy. (and, yea, I can wear anything I want to work right now – it’s great and I’m trying to soak it in before I’m committed to suits for the rest of my life). I pulled my hair back, washed my face, and scrambled to get to Starbucks for my “date.”
I saw him as I approached — wishing I would have taken more time to at least put on mascara — and walked in. He was sitting on the couch with a book, which he lowered just beneath his big brown eyes to give me that warm look. I imagined he was thinking, “Good morning, Love of My Life; I’m digging the devil-may-care look you’ve got going. Hot.”
As I strode past him toward the counter, I felt the oddest sensation travel down my leg. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to process it, but I believe I was thinking that some animal may have been caught in my jeans….and then it came out the bottom as I was walking. Right in the middle of the busy Friday-morning Starbucks scene. Although perhaps resembling an animal, it was not. It was, instead, my underwear. Leopard print. Thong. When I saw them on the floor, in front of my man, I was so confused. I couldn’t figure out what the hell happened….did these just actually come off of my body? How could that have happened? I can’t even imagine what he thought (not to mention the 20 other people in there who were witnesses). But then, I remembered I had put on different underwear that morning. And it hit me – when I had taken my jeans off the night before, I had also taken off my underwear in the same swoop. So they were in there when I put the jeans on that morning and had just slid down my left pant leg.
Quickly, I thought of schemes. Maybe I could pretend – nonchalantly – that it was simply a handkerchief, and that maybe I could pick it up and blow my nose with it just to make it obvious. See everyone, it’s just a handkerchief. Yes, that’s it. A handkerchief. Leopard print. In the shape of a thong. If my hair hadn’t already been in a ponytail, I may have picked it up and wrapped it around my hair. See everyone, it’s just a hair-tie.
I’m sure all of this went through my mind in a nano second, but it seemed like an eternity, in slow motion. I ended up just taking a deep breath as I bent down, grabbed them, and stuffed them in my purse. I couldn’t look my guy in the eye. I could barely order my coffee. I shuffled out the door, and chalked it up to one of those days. I did, however, take a couple-week sabbatical from my Starbucks soirées. When I finally did return, he was no longer there.
I guess he already did see my underwear. Game over.
July 15, 2008
No, I’m not a lesbian. And I don’t mean to diminish one’s act of publicly acknowledging his or her homosexuality by using the phrase “coming out” to describe my personal revelation. But as I sat down to write, the phrase “I’m Coming Out” was the only thing that, well, came out. Along with Pink’s lyrics, of course.
In all seriousness, it has recently occurred to me that I may be going through a similar experience as my gay friends who had to endure the often painful process of coming out to family and friends. And I think that’s why I’ve been away (from blogging) for a while. Let me, briefly, explain.
I started this blog for many reasons, the most important of which was (and is) to learn about myself and make a commitment not to abandon myself. Of course it’s been *super* fun to reconnect with people through this blog and keep family and friends informed of all my recent (mis?)happenings. And I plan to continue as I journey to the west. But, at the risk of sounding sickeningly cliche, the journey that is most crucial to me at this point is the one within. This journey is not always pretty. In fact, it can be downright ugly, dark, terrifying, mean, hateful, and angry. But it is honest and so far I haven’t completely turned away.
I got caught up a bit in the blog, however. You see, I have this problem. I like to please people. And man, I’m good at it. Somehow, I learned early on to quickly evaluate what makes another person happy (with respect to me): do you want me to be smart, stupid, pretty, ugly, funny, attentive, hard to get, feminine, tomboy-ish? I can tap dance like you wouldn’t believe. Ta-da! Whatever it takes to make sure you like me. The reason? Well, turns out (thanks Judy) that for most of my life, the only way I knew how to value myself was by seeing myself through others’ eyes. So, I was always desperate for you to like me – ’cause if you didn’t like me (and you thought that I was an intellectual snob, or pathetically stupid, or self-centered, or a dull wallflower, or cold, or a tease), then I didn’t like me either.
I’ve come a long way though, baby, and I’m learning to like myself a lot more – “uglies” and all. A lot of it I’m still working on – of course. But some of it (like, the “inner bitch” I’ve been instructed to embrace) is actually really freakin’ great. I call her J-Lo. She’s my girl.
One area where I’ve started to get to know and reveal myself more than others has been through my blog – because, again, this was intended for me, by me. Here, I’ve expressed more of myself. I’ve revealed a bit of my complexity. I’ve become more than the one-dimensional “I’ll whistle any tune you want as long as you like me” Little Girl. In other words, I’ve started to come out.
To get back to my comparison, I read the following on a gay/lesbian resource page:
Coming Out to parents and family is a very difficult process. In part, it is about you. You are sharing something very personal with people you love. This makes it a time when you could become closer and more attached, but it also carries the risk of rejection and pain. Coming Out is also about others. This is a time when family who may have “seen the signs” but ignored them must admit this to themselves.
Now, you may find this funny, but this statement — describing “coming out” as it relates to homosexuality — also applies directly to my situation. My coming out has been difficult. I’ve finally tired of trying to be the person that (I believe) everyone wants me to be (and it’s a different me for everyone) and I’m striving to be the person who I actually am! And it hasn’t been without resistance. Through the blog, particularly, those who are close to me are seeing/reading thoughts or opinions of mine that maybe they aren’t used to. (Or maybe they saw the signs long ago that I am an independent thinker but now must admit this to themselves!) I’ve gotten several comments ranging from – “Man, LG, when did you become so angry?” to “Hey, LG, I wouldn’t share your blog with any guy you’re interested in dating; he may be turned off by the ranting.” to “Um, LG, you really need to get a life.”
And although I was expecting (as I was warned) to get all kinds of comments and feedback from the public, I think those who are most “disturbed” by my journey are those who are closest to me….and, interestingly, most of these “concerned” comments come from male readers.
So, I had to take a bit of a break because I felt myself slip back into tap dance mode. I heard those comments to mean: “LG, it’s unattractive that you are a complex woman and have thoughts and feelings about the world and the way it works; you should be ashamed.” And, momentarily, I was. And I felt nervous and scared that the real me isn’t going to be liked by anyone. But then I realized I was wrong: if by no one else, she will be liked by me.
So, I’m back; better (and worse!) than ever. But it’s me. All of me. And, I’m not asking you, World, to pat my back along the way, or agree with the things I say (indeed, I enjoy and invite debate and discussion!) In fact, I’m not asking anything of you, World. I’m just giving a notification. I cannot write for you. I will not write for you. I’m going to keep writing for me.
In short: I’m coming out….so you better get this party started.
June 5, 2008
I’ve always been captivated by maps and globes. There’s some sort of ineffable charm about them, don’t you think? In one swoop of the eyes, you can imagine a journey from here to anywhere… from San Fran to Zambia to South Korea.
Dutch and I collected globes from many of the countries we visited; several were made of materials unique to the region (and, sadly, I don’t know what happened to any of them). And we had a huge map hanging in our office at home. I loved that thing. I looked at it often and wondered if the streets in Antiqua, Guatemala were as beautiful as I remembered, how our drinking buddies in Australia were getting along, and how soon we could get back to Florence for our favorite gelato.
I think maps soothe me because they show “the way.” If you need to get here, you take this road, cross this river, climb this mountain, whatever. I don’t really care how long or difficult the journey is, it’s just comforting to see the path.
I think I tried to do that with my life for a long time…get it all mapped out so I know what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, what streets to go down, which people to avoid, and — most importantly — where I’ll end up. Needless to say, my efforts always backfired. I’m trying to keep this in mind now since I’m heading out to LA in less than three months. I keep pulling up maps at work and looking at how far it is and how many different roads I could take to get there….but I know what I’m really doing is wondering what my LA life will be like and what kind of woman I’ll become while I’m there. Today I realized that even though I’ll take a map with me for the cross-country journey, I need to try hard not to plan all of that other stuff out, and trust that I’ll end up right where I’m supposed to be.
And in the meantime, I’m enjoying this map that a friend sent me today. Apparently LA has the largest male plurality: 40,000 more single men than women. And although (thanks to the brilliant advice from one of my most loving friends) I’m remembering to live the way I did “before boys mattered” (when I was, like, 7) I can’t say this didn’t bring a smile to my face.
June 3, 2008
Amazing article in the NYT today – I actually feel ethically compelled to share. (It’s short, but powerful; check it out).
May 19, 2008
Double entendre intended.
This article in today’s NYT highlights the national rise of Purity Balls, which I consider to be the most disturbing effort yet of the evangelical abstinence movement. These twisted father-daughter galas celebrate the public affirmation of the girls’ (often in grade school, mind you) commitment to abstience before marriage. Curiously, these girls go to these ceremonies dressed up like grown women (up-dos, floor-length gowns, tiaras, and makeup) and adorn the arms of their fathers who take their own purity pledge: “to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”
In other words young women receive the following message: Despite whatever personal qualities you think important, you are only as valuable as your vagina is pure. And because your emotions prevent you from deciding what to do with your body, we declare ownership…until you get married, at which time we will deed the rights to your husband.
There’s something about this kind of conservatism that really freaks me out because willful ignorance leaves no room for logic or rational discussion. No matter how many studies show that teens who have declared abstinence are more likely to have unprotected sex than those who have not, The Abstinence Clearinghouse will continue to mail out purity ball kits to interested groups
I understand that kids don’t always make good decisions (I certainly made a few bad ones myself), but asking them not to give into very powerful desires is not only naive, it’s downright moronic. I hate to break it to you Purity Pops, but your daughters will likely be horny at some point (I cringe at the use of that word, but it’s necessary here). And because you haven’t included your sons in these Purity Balls (telling, isn’t it?) those young boys are going to be preaching a different sermon to your daughters…one that’s a lot more exciting than yours.
Perhaps there was a time when abstinence was reasonable (??) – namely, when girls were being married off at 14. But now we are in a world where marriage isn’t necessarily the default. (What happens if these girls decide not to get married – can they still never have sex??) In this day in age, women can have their own careers, their own homes, their owns lives. They certainly need to understand that they have — and can control — their own private parts too.
If you want to help young women make good decisions, teach them. Give them tools. And I don’t mean birth control only (although it’s necessary and I still can’t believe that it isn’t free and readily available on every street corner) . . . I also mean self-esteem, confidence, and independence. Give your daughters a voice; they will use it.
May 18, 2008
I’m discovering a trend in the relationships I’ve found myself in since Dutch. In short, I think I’m too good for the guys I’ve been dating. I know this doesn’t sound like “nice, sweet, modest Little Girl,” but lower your judging eyebrows and let me explain. When I say I’m too good for The Guy (just fill in the blank at this point) I don’t mean “good” in the sense that I’m better than him; I mean “good” in the, let’s say, virtuousness sense. And, at first, I think The Guy is really attracted to this quality in me. I mean, duh, right? After all, I *am* a good girl. I’m trustworthy, I’m loyal and considerate, I have a strong moral compass, I’m ambitious and independent, I’ve got an incredible career, and I value, inter alia, intelligence, curiosity, and being kind to others. *And, I’ve gone through a lot of feelings of rejection since the divorce, so I feel less boastful and more entitled to recognize these attributes about myself now.* To be frank, I’ve got my shit together. In fact, I probably do more on a Monday that a lot of people do in a month (and some in a lifetime). But, the preceding personal rave notwithstanding, I am also very humble, approachable, feminine, and (at least I believe) non-threatening. In fact, one of my older guy friends always tells me that I’m the kind of girl that makes a man feel like a man. And, in the beginning, I think this is true. The Guy generally enjoys basking in Little Girl’s glow of girlie goodness…. but only until it makes him feel like shit, which it inevitably does.
T was very much this way. He had a history of tumultuous love affairs with “edgy” women: women who do drugs and have vast and varied sexual experiences; women who are high-maintenance, disloyal, self-obsessed and selfish; women who punch walls, threaten suicide or homicide all while exuding, or seeming to exude, some kind of “you can never tame me but I know how to make you keep trying” aura. I think T needed a break from that (and even though I certainly have *some* craziness, it paled in comparison to what he was used to) and I quickly became a safe haven from the lousy, lonely terrain he had been traveling…. I was the “light” he never thought would shine in his world of darkness. (I know, puke, but I totally ate that up at the time, given my prior need to “fix” my partner.) I was a “good influence” and he felt good about being with me because it was as if he was doing something good for himself. After awhile, however, things changed and my goodness — what had attracted him to me in the first place — began to bother him. He thought I was naive for being so optimistic about life. I think he was mad that even through my struggles, I found some happiness in life, while he had to endure whatever demons lay in wait for him every night in bed. And I actually started to feel ashamed of myself; like, I was this silly Little Girl who just had a lot of growing up to do, and, in time, I would understand the excruciating tragedy of life and stop being so damn cheerful. I convinced myself that I should, indeed, develop an “edge” (after all I’m going to be a prosecutor and this could only help me in my career): So, I cussed more, I downed shots of whiskey instead of sipping martinis, I smoked a few cigarettes, I became pessimistic about my job and my friends, I held back gasps during barroom talks of sex, drugs, and women, and I didn’t freak out about tattoos or sexual exploration. But, in the end, I could only go so far before I realized that it just wasn’t me. And, thankfully, I started to become more secure with who I was and, perhaps more importantly, who I wasn’t.
In subsequent relationships, I fear that my goodness has been (or will be) a liability. The Guy is drawn in by it, certainly, but in the end, I think he comes to hate it because it makes him feel badly about himself. He realizes that he’s been modifying his behavior around me to “protect” me, to not offend my “innocent” sensibility; and resentment sets in. He realizes that, despite valuing authenticity, he’s never actually shown his true self to me and that it’s just too damn difficult to maintain this “I’m really a decent guy, LG” role. He convinces himself that he prefers a girl with an edge — after all, he can feel more worthy around a tatted-out, pot-smoking, trash-talking drama queen.
I’m still tempted to try out the “bad girl” role every once in a while, because it *is* a lot of work being responsible to myself and responsible to the world . . . but in truth, I think that I push myself to the *real* edge of life more than most women, and it will just take a pretty special guy to recognize that.
So in my personal edginess, I remain hopeful.
May 6, 2008
I survived the infield at the Derby….not to mention staying in a tiny hotel room with another girl and two boys, all of which are a few years younger than me. I didn’t think the age difference would matter, but as 1:00 am approached Saturday, after a long day in the sun with the rowdiest crowed I’ve ever encountered, I felt old. The rest of the group went out until 5:00 am and I went back to the room to crash. I guess as much as I try, I just can’t party like Cancun ‘96 anymore. Lord, who am I kidding, I barely survived Cancun ‘96 when I was there.
I loved the Derby. I found it to be an incredible study of culture. Walking in to Churchill Downs, I was amazed by all of the classy beautiful people. The hats and the clothes were simply stunning. The little girl in me longed to play dress up, join the high-society crowd, sip mint juleps, and share a dainty laugh or two with all the muckety-mucks. Our crew, however, had our sights on the infield, and I certainly wasn’t dressed for the stands. So we forged through the glitz and glamor, descended under the track, and emerged into wonderful madness.
Having research the infield experience a bit before heading down — and realizing that I was partying *way* out of my league — I vowed to check all judgment (and wide-eyed gasping) at the door. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of wild nights (Maggie, let’s keep those on the d-l), but I’m realizing that “wild” is largely subjective. For most of the afternoon at the Derby, I was just savoring the sun, watching the crowd, and generally feeling connected to the people of the world. It was great. But there was a distinct point in the late afternoon, perhaps two hours before the derby race, when I realized that I needed to limit my ventures beyond our safe tarp-and-lawn chair home. Not because I was scared, but because I was nervous that if I saw one more skirt go up or tube top go down, I wouldn’t be able to resist a discussion on whether our society has somehow repackaged sleazy sexual exploitation as empowering to women. I kept having these internal debates in my mind when I passed a near-naked woman posing for pictures, or girls announcing that they weren’t wearing any underwear. “Oh my gosh, does she really know what she’s doing…I wonder why she’s doing it…maybe she has low self esteem? ….oh, Little Girl, you can be so judgmental; she’s probably just enjoying sexual freedom. Loosen up LG!”
And I did loosen up. I kicked back, enjoyed (or, stomached) a julep, and cheered on my horses. But, at the end of the day, I couldn’t help questioning whether this Girls Gone Wild “freedom” is actually a victory for women. Whether displaying our bodies – being on display – is helpful or hurtful. There’s a lot of power there, for sure, but I can’t decide who’s holding it.