Stop! In the Name of Love

I have gone back and forth about doing this post because I mean really, does this need to be belabored?

Oh, wait. Yeah. It kinda does.

The Supremes have spent the last two days hearing oral arguments (which sounds dirty, but isn’t) about California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state, and the Defense of Marriage Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996, defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. The issue, as it almost always is with the Supremes because they’re obsessed, is the laws’ constitutionality.

The thing is, this is one of those issues for which it seems a lot of Americans don’t care at all about the constitutionality. Which is what makes it pretty unusual, since we’re always harping on that particular document, and usually with good reason.

I’m interested to see how this comes out (haha, I said “comes out.” Like gay people.) because this is a situation in which personally find that a strict originalist view of the Constitution will bear out the fact that the document says… um… nothing about who can get married and who can’t.

Ruh-roh Rustice Scalia.

I mean, it does say that black people are only 3/5 human… but I don’t think the strict originalists are really keeping to that definition. The 13th Amendment took care of that. And then the 14th Amendment says:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

And Article IV, Section 1 says:

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

Which means if I, a straight person, were to get married in New York, it would have to be recognized as a valid marriage everywhere else. But Congress can establish whether the marriage was legit in the first state.

Now, I’m not a Constitutional scholar. I’m not even a lawyer. Not one single credit hour of law in college. I worked at a law firm part time for a little while and I dated a guy with his JD, but I don’t think that qualifies. But I am a citizen… considered unequal until 1920 and sometimes even now, since I’m a woman, but we’ll forego that particular argument at the moment, I’ll stick my thumbs in my ears and wiggle my fingers because I own property, and we’ll just settle on I’m a citizen. So the Constitution is important to me. And I don’t see an argument against same-sex marriage in it. So I guess it’s good that the Supremes have been contracted to figure it out.

I find that almost every argument against same-sex marriage is based on religion. As I have said many, many times in this blog, I fully respect a person’s faith, regardless of what it is, because I expect the same respect for my faith. I certainly don’t expect to change anyone’s minds. Instead, what I’d like to do is to point out something I think is a simple but pivotal aspect of this discussion:

The law is not about religion.

A friend of mine on Facebook unwittingly started a conversation about this the other day. One of his friends, who appears to be a fundamentalist Christian, pointed out three passages in the Bible that he felt supported his belief that same-sex marriage should not be allowed. I read the passages, one of which was in Leviticus (the third book of the Old Testament/Torah) and reflects a pre-Christ view of a harsh and punishing God… and two more, which were from Romans, a book in the New Testament attributed to Paul. My friend’s friend was gentle and respectful in his points, but based his entire argument against same-sex marriage on religion and these passages.

A minimally scholarly understanding of the Bible demonstrates the difference between the Old and New Testament tones in Christian belief, as well as the fact that Paul was not an apostle of Jesus and never knew Jesus when He was teaching, but came to his conversion after Jesus’s ascension. So technically, his writings were inspired by his faith, but not directly taken from Jesus’s words.

It’s easy to get caught up in the understandings of faith and forget the fundamental truth of this same-sex marriage question: that it is about whether same-sex couples should be afforded equal rights and protections under the law. And, more broadly, but no less significantly, it’s about whether the federal government should control marriage in any way… a question that, to some degree, is answered by the federal benefits extended to married heterosexual couples.

It’s not about religion. No matter how much someone believes that same-sex relationships are against God’s laws, or will, or word, or design, the questions of Prop 8 and DOMA are not about religion. They are about law, and the Constutition, and citizenship.

There are varied interpretations of those, too, of course. That’s why we have the Supremes. But on Tuesday, I found a passage I had forgotten existed despite the fact that it’s inscribed on a wall.

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Those words are inscribed on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial. Because he wrote them.

He also was one of nine men who wrote the Constitution.

I think, understanding that religion does not govern the rule of law and the outrage of some does not mitigate the rights of others, Thomas Jefferson would agree…

…It’s time.

 

 

 

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Fourth Round Upset

If any of you had me losing to the universe in the March Madness relationship tournament… congratulations. You’ve won. Allow me to play “One Shitty Moment” while you snip away the tattered remains of my love life.

Oh, it’s not really that dramatic, don’t worry. I can be around sharps. 

Yes, you finally get to hear the end of the Rick Saga, because it has reached its end. Yesterday I messaged him asking for a conversation and he called me five minutes after he read it. Much was said, but the upshot is that he thought he was ready to date, but he isn’t, and he’s so overwhelmed emotionally that he hasn’t been able to deal with his life beyond work. He’s thrown himself into the job to distract himself from everything else. Duh. And he’s so uncertain about what he wants for his personal life that he’s even wondered whether leaving The Ex was the right decision. He doesn’t know whether to move into a new place or move back in with her. 

So, yeah.

That was really the only part of the conversation that surprised me, or any of you, probably, if you’ve been playing our game at home. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I slept well or that I don’t have sort of epically puffed-up eyes from crying myself to sleep. I really hate that particular feature of crying myself to sleep, by the way. Like insult really needs to be added to injury at that point. My eyes are assholes.

It was a long and honest conversation during which we agreed that there will be no hard feelings or awkwardness if the university ever fucking calls me and offers me the goddamned job. He says he’s truly excited about me getting it (allegedly) and looks forward to having a friendly face around that he can vent to sometimes. At which point I fell silent, because after approximately seven eons of dating and two years-long, particularly cruel bouts of unrequited love, I have finally realized I can’t be “friends” with someone I’ve been interested in. But I didn’t need to say that out loud at this point. 

I’m still waiting for my Cinderella story. But I’m seriously, seriously considering quitting the game and taking up competitive eating instead.

Roller Derby. So That Happened.

I’ve just had one of the more surreal experiences of my life.

Have you ever been to a roller derby? Are you familiar with this? I don’t know if men do it, but the women’s version of roller derby is apparently all the rage right now. When I got the Facebook invitation from my former neighbor, Cammie, I was pretty surprised. Cammie isn’t really the roller derby type. Whatever that means. She’s an archivist at a university library. She’s not prim or dowdy or anything – the first time I met her was when her friends left her drunk ass in my care while they went to search for her apartment keys in her car, which had been left at whatever bar had over-served her. Cammie, who is maybe 95 pounds soaking wet, sat slumped on my floor with her back against my couch, eyes closed, occasionally muttering that she hoped she wouldn’t get sick on my stuff.

But the next day, she wrote me a thank you note.

Anyway, so I went to the roller derby. You guys, this is some serious roughhousing. I don’t really know how it works except one of the girls on each team has a star on her helmet, and she’s like Head Bitch In Charge for however long she has the star, and she’s the one who has to power through the crowd and lap them. And however many times she laps them or something, she gets points for the team. The stars are removable, so the Head Bitch changes up every so often, though I have no idea what the guidelines are for that. And the rest of the team is trying to block their opponents from getting to the Head Bitch, while also trying to block for her. This sometimes resembles a really aggressive game of Red Rover. There are maybe, I dunno, eight chicks on a team at a time, but they rotate and they seem to have another eight on the bench at any given time. There are some other rules and there are at least three referees in actual referee clothing. One of them was also wearing a kilt. They skate around and two of them are responsible for holding a hand up and pointing continually at whichever HBIC is in the lead at any given time. And then there was this other guy in skinny stonewashed black jeans who kept frantically writing things on a white dry erase board and showing it to people in some sort of official capacity, but I could never see what he’d written or figure out what he might possibly be keeping track of.

There might be fouls, but I’m not sure. There was a lot of what I found to be errant whistling from the refs. If your job is to knock a bitch down, it’s hard to know when you’ve crossed a line.

Oh, and the derby girls have names! Names like Cramp Crusher and Ima Psycho and Anita Bandage.

It was a back-to-back bout (they’re called bouts), so it was kind of long, but by halftime (they have halftime!) of the second bout, I was actually getting into it. Still, I was trying to ignore the three annoying announcers (three), one of whom was wearing a gold sequined jacket and top hat. I make it a policy to ignore anyone who wears sequins unless it’s a prom or a bride. That goes double for men. 

It took me over an hour to realize that these teams actually have coaches. How does one coach a roller derby team? I couldn’t figure it out. But sure enough, the guy in the skinny stonewashed black jeans would run over (he wasn’t on skates) and hold up the white dry erase board to the coaches. Who were wearing – are you ready for this? – lavender suits. Not deep lavender… it was pale, so that I thought it might be a dove gray color. But no. Lavender. One of Cammie’s friends did some recon to find out for sure.

After the first bout, one of the members of the team came up to the bleachers, where about 300 serious roller derby fans of all walks of life, young and old, goth and average, punk and non-punk, were seated. She personally shook hands with most of us and thanked us for coming. Up close, I realized… she was at least 45 years old.

Which made me feel like such a bum, because this is some physical stuff and I’m sitting on the bleachers all, “Oh, that would kill my back!”

The second bout was much rowdier. As a woman from the first bout sold beer in the stands with one of those carriers you see at baseball and football games, the action on the floor was intense. I was chatting with Cammie’s friend Deb when I suddenly realized the entire arena had fallen silent. I mean silent. 

I looked up.

One of the roller girls was splayed out on the floor, face-down. Possibly dead.

Everyone else had taken a knee. You know how they do in football, when someone gets hit really hard and appears unconscious, and everybody gets down on a knee and prays or whatnot? That’s what was happening. And me, talking to Deb about knishes, all insensitive-like. And now I was all, “Aw, man… somebody got killed at the roller derby and I missed it.”

There were medical personnel surrounding her, and though I couldn’t quite tell what they were doing, I kept looking for blood and/or teeth. Finding none, I waited along with the rest of the crowd.

She was alright. She came back later.

About an hour after I’d arrived, I saw a girl sit down three bleachers in front of me who looked like a former coworker. Sometime after the woman didn’t die on the floor, I saw her and her friends get up to leave. Turns out, it was the former coworker, sans about 30 pounds since the last time I saw her. And you know who she was with?

Gwyneth.

Yes, Gwyneth. The woman who stole the affections and attention of my non-boyfriend, Jack.

I had exactly these thoughts:

Oh my God. Is he here? (No.)

Seriously, she is really young.

And skinny.

When did she get glasses?

I probably stared at her the whole time she was arranging herself to leave, saying goodbye to her friends and heading up the bleachers toward the exit. I had strangely few feelings. I briefly fantasized about a whirl around the derby floor, pulling her hair and smacking at her with open fists, but it’s pretty obvious based on any reality whatsoever that I would come up the loser in that bout. She’s a marathon runner. I haven’t gone to a gym in nine months. Really, I never blamed her for anything – it was completely Jack’s fault – she probably had no idea how devastated I was. But still… what are the odds? To run into her at the roller derby?! Really? Three hundred people out of an entire metro area population, and we’re both there?

Gwyneth goes to the roller derby?

go to the roller derby?

Sometimes I wonder if I just dreamed the whole thing. But there are pictures of the derby on my phone. So I guess not.

And I didn’t even get a beer.

Flop.

ABC has a new show called “Splash.” Perhaps you saw it. I didn’t mean to, but it was happening right next to me and it was kind of like a car wreck.

Near as I could tell, what happens is, Louie Anderson does a slow free-fall off a diving platform, watched by a live audience who are in rapt attention and, in some cases, covering their mouths in fear. When he gets out of the pool, Joey Lawrence interviews him. (What the hell happened to Joey Lawrence, by the way?) Then Louie walks over somewhere a few feet away and Charissa Thompson (from ESPN2. Not ESPN… ESPN2) interviews him. This is all very serious, as if he just competed for a gold medal in the Olympics. Then he faces a former Olympic diver and a dive team instructor, and they give him scores. Totally seriously. And then a tweet pops up on the screen from a random person saying she’s glad diving is finally getting some attention because it’s so crazy hard to do.

And I believe that. I believe that actual diving, in which you point your toes and do a bunch of flips and twists and stuff, and you try to enter the water while creating as little splash as possible, is difficult to do.

So after that, Katherine Webb comes out. I immediately have my doubts because she’s wearing a bathing suit that would definitely, definitely come off if I wore it and dove from a 10-meter platform. Who is Katherine Webb? you wonder quietly to yourself. She’s the girlfriend of a college quarterback, and also Miss Alabama, made more famous by Bret Musberger’s compliment of her looks on live TV as she sat in the stands at her boyfriend’s bowl game than by her crowning as Miss Alabama.

Anyway, so she dives, which is kind of impressive because she does a backflip. And keeps the bathing suit on. But her score for that is somehow lower than Louie Anderson’s freefall.

They interview her. Somehow her makeup has not run down her face. Her conversation with Charissa Thompson is like Hot Brunette With Wet Hair Talks To Hot Blonde With Dry Hair. Ratings gold in the male 14-Dead demographic.

Then some guy who’s a trick skier or something comes out in trunks and he’s all cut and muscley, and he does a dive with a couple flips and a couple twists and somehow his score is only a little higher than Louie Anderson’s.

Then out comes – are you ready for this? – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s wearing a purple robe and he looks, I swear, like some kind of wizard. For some reason he is not wearing his goggles, which is weird because he wore them to play ball but apparently does not think he needs them to swim. He dives off the kind of diving board we’re all familiar with – the bouncy kind that’s not high off the water. And he totally belly-flops.

Admittedly, I crack up laughing.

But I cannot believe this is where we’ve gone as a society. This is entertainment now? Watching Louie Anderson plummet off a slab into a pool in (thank God) a full body bathing suit?

Look, we’re writers. We all know “reality” television sucks ass. It started more than 20 years ago (gah) with the first Real World on MTV and it’s been a long, steady progression into hell since. But now we are seriously entertaining ourselves watching a fat guy and a midget (a midget, people) do dives?

And yes, I totally resorted to assholery in my description in the previous sentence, but do you know why? Because that’s what ABC did in casting them. You put Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Louie Anderson and Chuy Bravo in a diving “competition” with Katherine Webb and Rory Bushfield (the extreme skier), you’re totally going for the Some Of These Folks Are Not Like the Others vibe. Unabashedly.

So if you watch the show and enjoy the spectacle of the comparative figures… you’re an asshole, too.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there’s no charity fundraising involved or anything. It’s really just like watching the folks at your community pool try to dive, but with cameras and lights.

Who came up with this idea? Who sat in a board room and said, “Okay, here it is. Ready? So great. Okay. So. We take these D-list celebrities, right? I mean people you haven’t seen in decades. Sometimes people you’ve never even heard of, right? And we have them dive into a pool.”

And the exec said, “…And?”

And the idea guy said, “…Isn’t it awesome?”

And then they made the show.

In other news, ABC has announced that its next show will feature camera crews watching me get out of bed every morning, just in case I fall down.

Go ‘Merica.

 

Your Life Is Important To Us. Please Continue To Hold.

As Josh Lyman once said in an episode of The West Wing called “The War At Home:” I’m on hold. I’m on hold. I’m in some kind of hellish hold world of holding.

Super episode, by the way.

So. I’m still waiting to hear from the university about the job. I’m not going to hear about it until at least next Monday, when Joanne gets back from vacation. She did email me yesterday, the first day of her vacation, to ask me for three references. I had already provided a list of three, two of whom are either recently retired from her department or currently working one floor below her in the president’s office. So I guess she wanted three more.

I could go for days, boss. Refer away. Or whatever.

But seriously? Make the call. You’ve told me you want to hire me, you’ve told me you don’t know why I didn’t get the last job I interviewed for there, you asked me for free advice, some of which you actually took, you sang my praises to Rick twice the next day… HIRE ME ALREADY. Or I’m totally billing you for that shit.

Meanwhile, I had to schedule the interview I don’t want, for the job I don’t really want. That’s because I had put my old and potentially new again boss on hold, because I was on hold with the university. And then when I learned I wasn’t going to hear from the university until at least the 25th, I couldn’t keep David on hold anymore. So that interview is Friday.

Which is Rick’s birthday. I had foolishly taken it as a vacation day, thinking maybe I’d make him a nice dinner. That was more than a month ago, when we were swimming along nicely. Cut to now, at which point I haven’t seen him in almost a month and didn’t hear from him between Friday afternoon and this morning. And all he can say to me anymore is, “Did you hear anything about the job yet?” Even though I have told him I won’t hear until next week. It’s like that’s the only way he can think of to continue some sort of contact.

I almost gave the vacation day back, but then I realized it would be the best way to go to the interview I don’t want for the job I don’t really want.

Since I turned my blog into an interactive forum on dating, I’ve been doing what it seemed most of you recommended: responding when contacted, but not reaching out. Which is really no different from what I’d been doing all along. So no behavior modification was necessary. Psyche modification – different story.

Therefore, I am grumpy as hell. Which, I’m told, hath no fury like a woman wondering what the eff is the deal with the seemingly endless procession of men in her life who can’t get their shit together with super glue, compounded by the nearly four-year search for a way out of a basement that didn’t include a spoon and a Raquel Welch poster, which is presently taunting her because it’s like she can smell the fresh air but she can’t get to it.

Or something like that.

Even Sam isn’t getting back to me. Days have gone by and nothing. I think he might be dead. I emailed him yesterday to ask. No reply. So it’s possible I’m right.

I’ve heard it said that God has three answers: Yes, No and Wait. I suppose it’s possible that I’m getting a bunch of Waits lately. But still, I would think God would have a better way to communicate. Burn a bush or something.

But tell me what the burning bush means first, so I’m not all, “It’s a sign! Wait… what?”

Yeah, I Take It Back. This Is NOT What It’s Supposed To Be Like.

I am typing really hard. Just so you know. 

The university where I’m trying to get a job is in the middle of a kind of public relations clusterfuck right now. (I had censored that word a little, but then I remembered we all know I swear in this blog. Much more than I do out loud in actual life. See? You get extras!) I’m not in PR at the moment, but I do have some level of knowledge about it, so the woman who would be my immediate supervisor called me at 10:00 last night looking for some free advice.

It’s possible I didn’t really let her ask me the question she wanted to ask because we just sort of got into the conversation, but suffice it to say we talked for 30 minutes about how to staunch the bleeding. And I don’t love giving free advice (apart from “hire me”), but if it’s going to help nudge them in the correct direction vis-a-vis my employment, I’ll throw them a bone. She had told me, without prodding, that she was sorry the process was taking so long, that everyone really liked me and wanted me on the team, but that they weren’t sure which position to slot me in. Not a great sign, since if it’s not the one for which I interviewed, it would be the one below that… $2,500 below that, and a rather significant $2,500, at that. And if you’re calling me to help save your ass from the mess you’re currently in, then maybe you should hire me for something indicative of the fact that you need me to save your ass. 

I had talked with her on the phone on my way home from work. Pulling into my parking spot at 11pm, I had not yet heard from Rick. The night before, I had heard from him rather late, but the exchange had been fine. I was still pissed, though, about being blown off on Friday. But, since I had an update on the employment situation, and only because of that update, I decided to reach out. 

“Just finished a 30 minute conversation with Joanne. She called asking for help with this fiasco. Apparently I’m a consultant now.”

His response was…

…wait for it…

“Congrats! Tell me about it tomorrow. I’m out of it right now. :-)”

Are you freaking KIDDING me. Period. Not question mark.

By “out of it,” do you mean “high?” Or “drunk beyond conversational ability?” Because, um, the possibility of my getting hired at this university is kind of a major point of interest between us, and you’ve been lobbying for it for weeks, and just yesterday you asked if I had heard from Joanne. And now you want to tell me you’re too “out of it” to move your fingers around on a keyboard?

If I hadn’t laughed out loud at his douchenuggetry I would have been furious. I might still be. I reserve that right. And I will, in fact, NOT be telling him about it today. Because I will not be speaking to him today. Not really sure when I’ll resume that, actually.

So, let’s review:

First six weeks of dating: everything is great. Everything is so different from my previous experiences that I think I might have found a truly good guy now. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Seventh week: slight intensification followed by perfectly acceptable conversation about taking things slowly. We are in complete agreement.

Eighth week: Still pretty decent, but definitely less great. One plan to see each other cancelled.

Ninth week: Haven’t seen him in three weeks. Substantially less great vibe. Actually verging on sucky. One possibly attempted blow-off that I thwarted because it didn’t even make sense, followed 24 hours later by an actual blow-off. Four days later,a huge blow-off. 

You know what? I think we’re done here.

So here, dear readers, is where you come in. I’d like to ask for your opinion on how I handle this. I’d love to set up one of those poll thingies, but I don’t know how and I don’t feel like figuring it out right now. Instead, I’ll give you numbers by the options I’d like you to choose from, and you can just comment with the number of your choice. Plus, of course, anything else you might like to say. Mmkay?

  1. Ignore him. Don’t answer any communiques from here forward. 
  2. Option 1 with the caveat that he can be answered if he realizes on his own that he owes me a huge apology and actually provides it. 
  3. Call him tonight and suggest that we end this attempt at dating, since it seems he is not truly interested at this point.
  4. Call him tonight and tell him off. Who cares if we might wind up working together? Who cares that we have to be at a governor’s award luncheon together in three weeks? He made his bed.
  5. Set fire to his car. Leave a note: “Tell me about this tomorrow. I’m out of it right now.”

Aaand… GO!

Really?

Aaaand we’re officially pissed at Rick.

So, we haven’t seen each other in two weeks, save the 30 minutes or so we had in his office after my second interview on Tuesday, one floor up. Texting has gotten rather stale. He calls to update me on job possibility stuff or legislature stuff, but that’s it. The other night we were going to get together after I was done with work, but he cancelled at 9:45 because he was too tired. I found out he’s got his whole birthday weekend planned, and I’m not included. Two weekends ago, he volunteered to babysit his nephew, which nixed our chances of getting together. Last weekend he wasn’t feeling well. I’m really good about not initiating and not pushing, but I think this is too long without making plans. This takes things out of slow gear and into stall.

This weekend I’m going to New Jersey to meet my Shiny New Niece who just got borned on Wednesday. Last night he started our nightly text conversation with “Have fun this weekend with your niece! :-)”

(Um…. )

Me: Thanks! You know it’s only Thursday, right?

Him: Yup. Just being premature.

(Something’s fishy. But the conversation continues for a while on good rapport. And then…)

Me: So when’s our next date?

Him: Great question! Hopefully before the next Star Wars movie comes out!

Me: Well, that’s in 2015, so yeah.

(It takes him several minutes to reply. He must be composing a long text of ideas and suggestions. And then…)

Him: Haha!!

(And then I throw the phone down because hello?!)

(A few minutes and deep breaths later, remembering that I don’t drop hints and I don’t do passive-aggression with men I’m dating…and I’ve told him that, for some stupid, stupid reason…)

Me: Sunday night?

Him: Possibly.

(Phone gets thrown down again. I do not appreciate evasiveness.)

(Minutes. Deep breaths. I should probably let it go here, but I try one more round of lighthearted suggestion.)

Me: I think we could use a night out!

Him: True. I have another busy week ahead beginning Monday morning. This month I’ll be at the statehouse every day.

(Yeah, okay, fuck you too.)

(Minutes. Debate. Inner conflict. Hypothetical mental text message composition, revision, further revision. I decide.)

Me: Okay, well whenever you can make some time!

(Phone takes a header. Also? Note the lack of smileyface emoticon. Take that.)

Alright, so maybe that last thing was slightly passive-aggressive. But also totally deniable. I changed the punctuation from a . to a ! so I could pass it off as cheerful at a later time if necessary. Because yes, Rick, I do understand the steaming pile of crap on your plate right now. And yes, I am understanding and flexible about when we can see each other. But don’t take advantage of that. It’s not okay to go a month without seeing the person you’re dating. You are not, in fact, dating if that’s the case. Don’t go from calling me your girlfriend to wanting to go slow to not seeing me for two weeks to not even making an effort… and expect me to be “understanding.”

Why do I even like you people? I mean, at all? Ever? You think we’re weak? You think we’re unstable?

Now, I realize something else might be working on him. He’s been working a lot in the state capital, which happens to be where he lived with The Ex. He mentioned the other day that being there means being reminded of a lot of things. She works for the state legislature, too.

So maybe he’s freaked about the possibility of working with me. Not with me, really, because if I get the job, we’d be in totally different departments on different floors doing different work and probably not even sitting in the same meetings. But maybe there’s that mental attachment thing, that connection between location and relationship, that’s freaking him out because of The Ex.

Totally possible. Despite all his excitement and effort to help me get the job. But that’s going to happen with any relationship. Like that song, “Always Something There To Remind Me,” that scares the crap out of me because it was on the radio the day I got tubes in my ears and they had drained all the fluid from behind my eardrums and I could finally hear and it seemed so loud, with its creepy bells and whatnot. So there are reminders. What are you going to do, move out of town every time you break up with someone?

And as previously mentioned in this here blog, I decided a few years ago that I was done guessing what a guy was thinking. Either he tells me or I don’t know. That’s all there is to it. I’m not putting myself through those mental Cirque du Soleil exercises anymore. Because you know what happens? You glom on to an explanation – oh, that must be it! – and then you’re wrong, but before you realize you’re wrong you’ve constructed an entire system of emotional and relational operation around your wrongness.

Screw that noise.

Back in the beginning of February, I had this really weird dream. I was in the ER for some reason – pain of some kind. Really severe pain. I was by myself, and they put me alone in a room and gave me, of all things, a breast pump. That was my treatment. And somehow, it worked. I managed to, in spite of never having birthed a child, express milk. And it relieved this pain I was in. Which was not, I should point out, any kind of boob pain. And so I felt better, and I was all, “How am I even doing this?” and then I looked down and saw that the plastic bag collecting the milk was now collecting blood.

I looked this up because naturally you want to know what it means when you dream you’re hemmorhaging from your nipples, and the breast pump signifies my ability to nurture and give love. Seems obvious. And then I realized maybe the dream means that I tend to give more than I should because it kills a different kind of pain for me.

Well, I’d like to stop doing that.

So now the ball is in his proverbial court entirely. It’s not even on a line or a net or anything like that. Your serve, sir. As I was publishing this post initially, I hadn’t heard from him today and didn’t expect to. And then, as soon as I hit PUBLISH, the phone dinged.

Him: Talk about a looong day! So much happened (work-related) it’s too much for a text message. Have a great weekend with your family.

It’s a good thing this phone has a protective cover.

 

Always There

I want to post pictures of myself standing in front of my house online.

Lots of people have done that, right?

But I can’t. Because I have my mother. And a man who lives in my head and tells me he’s coming to get me.

Now, do I really want to post those pictures? Nah. They don’t even exist, actually. But there’s a very particular reason for that. When I bought my house in November, I didn’t take any pictures of myself in front of it. I thought about it, but I didn’t do it. I didn’t take any pictures of the keys held up in front of it, either. Thought about it… didn’t do it. I didn’t post any pictures of it on Facebook. Not even nondescript pictures of ONLY my house with no numbers and no street name. Because what if the stalker sees them?

Or my mother?

My thoughts and behaviors are governed by him. All the time.

And by my mother. It’s like what he doesn’t get, she does. And sometimes they overlap.

And the two of them are really pissing me off.

Every once in a while, I think about how having had a stalker has permeated my life ever since. It’s been two and a half years, but it’s like he’s there all the time. It’s not active fear, you understand. It’s just the knowing. Knowing I’ve been watched before, coming and going from my home. Knowing that when someone decides to show up and mess with you for an hour late at night, there’s really not much you can do to stop him except hope the police catch him. Knowing makes you more careful. Knowing makes you change.

Since July of 2010, on some level, he’s there every time I get into or out of my car, no matter where I am. Every time I stop at a stoplight in the dark. Every time I walk into or out of my home. Every time I walk through my house wearing less than a full suit of clothes. Every time I hear a noise I don’t recognize or one that sounds like a stone hitting a window, and every time I see a shadow or turn a corner or drive down the back alley to my parking spot behind my house.

When I was debating whether to buy a house, I worried that I wouldn’t be safe and wouldn’t be able to pick up and leave like I had before. When was looking for a house, I was always wondering in the back of my mind, “Will I be stalked if I live here?”

It’s an infuriating thing to think. Stupid and frustrating and infuriating.

When I meet someone new, I wonder. And then I remember I had never met him, so it’s useless anyway. When I think about dating someone, I wonder. When someone watches me in the grocery store or on the street or in a restaurant, I wonder. When I fill out forms that require my address, I wonder, even if they’re forms that would logically require my address, like at the post office. People delivering stuff to my house? I wonder. People installing appliances? I wonder. People who look at my license to verify I am who I say I am at the airport or when I use a credit card? I wonder. It’s always, always, always there.

Finding out that I’m being honored by the governor, and that I’m giving a speech, has given me new occasion to think about the whole ordeal all over again. And that’s okay. Along with other people, I turned the experience into something positive for others, and I’m immensely, deeply grateful for and humbled by that. It’s the only thing that made everything make sense.

But I’m also remembering it all, all over again, and it’s definitely working on me.

In spite of that, though, I managed to post a picture on Facebook the other day without thinking twice. It shows the window above my front door. It so happens that my house number is up there. But it’s a cool-looking picture – there’s a trick of light happening – I like it. So I posted it.

And I got a message from my mother.

“I know you closed your PO box (which I had so that I couldn’t be traced to a new street address), but don’t you think that putting your address online is going a little too far in case that creep thinks to look for you? When you pull up your FB page, it shows your pretty face in front of row homes, and the numbers on your window. There are ways to find out the exact location from pics online and that makes it easy to find you.”

First of all, my mother exaggerates. The street name is not on the picture, so although you can see the house number, you cannot see my address, really. Secondly, my mother believes everything she reads on the internet. Which is an issue on lots of levels, trust me, and I don’t know how we survived the presidential election. But that’s neither here nor there.

It’s not that she’s totally wrong. I do see her point. But in a sense, posting that photo was a kind of victory for me, a freedom, an unburdening. Not intentional. It wasn’t a declaration. It just happened, and it was a good sign, a sign that I wasn’t occupied by thoughts of someone finding me and doing me harm. And she took that away.

Now, I know she didn’t mean to do that. She doesn’t read it that deeply. She’s a mom, and her daughter lives alone in a different city, and she has always worried about that. And then something happened that she’d always worried would happen, and now she’s even more worried. But in her message, she reminded me of my fear and brought it back. She told me I could be found. She took away my enjoyment of something simple and small and made it about her own worries instead. She put him back in my head. In her effort to protect me and keep me safe, she made me afraid that I’m not.

I want one day. One day when I don’t think about him. One day when there’s not a single caution I take because someone once threatened my safety. One day when there is nothing in me that is afraid. I have not yet had that day. Even the day I posted that photo, I hadn’t gone without thought of him and his effect on my life.

It makes me tired and angry that he is so there. Working on initiatives to help keep other crime victims safer always means reliving that experience, but it’s the only thing I can do to make good come out of it, and it’s working. I just want the power to dictate exactly when and how and why I have to think about him and that time in my life. I want veto power over anxiety. I want to be able to block him from my head, take him out entirely, and erase all of his effects. But that would mean erasing the work I’ve done, erasing having ever met Rich, erasing having moved to a better home.

He is inextricably, undeniably woven into my life. And into my mother’s.  For her, that means reminding me to stay safe from states away.

For me, it just means wanting to forget.

Related posts:
A Stranger At the Door – Part 1
A Stranger At the Door – Part 2

A Stranger At the Door – Part 3
I’m Gonna Need My Meds For This

I’m Gonna Need My Meds For This

OMG, you guys.

So every once in a while, Rick calls me from work to update me on something connected to the crime victim legislation we worked on together. He stays in touch with a lot of the people he used to work with, and he tries to stay on top of some of the initiatives he worked on to make sure they get done.

Anyway. A while ago, before he left the senator’s office, he told me I was nominated for a victims’ advocacy award. Which is crazy. And it was an honor just to be nominated, of course, just like the Oscars, and I would have been fine if they had Ben Afflecked the whole thing. But he called me earlier this week to tell me that not only am I in fact getting said award… I’m actually getting two.

Whaaaat? I didn’t, like, do anything. I wrote a letter. And, admittedly, persistently kept in touch with him to see what was going on with the plans to do what I’d proposed. Sure, I’m doggedly determined, but still, I didn’t do any of the actual work. He did all that.

Happily, he’s getting an award, too. There’s some sort of group award that they’re giving out this year, and he’s getting it because he made this happen, even though he doesn’t work for the senator anymore. And I’m sooo glad, because he deserves it more than anyone does. So much more that, before I found out he was getting one, I actually thought about giving him mine.

But it would have my name on it, and I thought scratching it out with a nail and etching his name in there instead would be too… obvious.

So yeah, apparently two awards for just, I don’t know, being outraged, and the governor is going to be there to give them to me or something. It’s a governor’s award thing. I don’t know if the governor actually hands me the awards. But the governor will be attending. I’m told.

So then, yesterday, Rick calls me again from work. I know he’s going to have something to tell me about the victims’ advocacy efforts or about the potential job I may or may not get (second interview is Tuesday) at the university where he now works, because he’s calling from the office phone and he won’t use that for personal calls. So he tells me, “I have even more good news for you.”

Okay…

“I just talked to Ann, and not only are you getting two awards at the luncheon, but you have also been invited to be a guest speaker.”

To which I responded with all of the eloquence that has convinced these people that I deserve such things: “Holy crap!” And found myself otherwise speechless entirely. Which bodes well for this event. I mean, Rick and Ann and some state senators have heard me speak before, because I testified to a state senate committee in favor of the bill. But I also just had an argument with my cat. In Cat. So let’s not get too complimentary.

“Yeah, you’re kind of a celebrity down there. She’s sending you a letter about it, but I wanted to tell you,” Rick said. Which is the same thing he had said two days before, when he called to tell me about the awards. I think he likes to hear my reactions to these things. And it’s good that he tells me, because I just closed my PO box and started having whatever mail was still going there forwarded to my house, and I don’t think Ann has my new address. And I feel like I can’t really call her and say, “I hear you’re giving me awards and adulations. Here’s my new address so you can tell me all about it.”

So now I’m trying to figure out a few things, like what to wear, and what to do about work that day since I thought initially Rick said it was from 11am to 2pm but the website I found says it’s from 12:30pm – 3:30pm and I would definitely be really, really late to work at that point. And then I remember that if I get the job at the university, I might not even be working at work anymore. So problem solved! Except not, because then that would probably be my first week at the new job and I don’t want to miss a day in my first week at work and–

“You’re getting. Two awards. From the governor,” Rick reminded me. “It’s a state school. I think they’ll be okay with it.”

Oh. Right. Huh. Okay, then.

And also I’m trying to figure out what to say in this speech I’m giving. I’m currently obsessed about knowing my audience. I believe it’s people who work in victims’ rights for the state, some political types, and crime victims. But I don’t know the percentages, or how many people will be there, or if anybody else will be there.

My mom wanted to come.

I told her no because I’m too old for my mommy and daddy to come to a thing where I get an award.

She said, “Okay, then don’t complain when you see other people’s parents there.”

“Mom…”

“I think the president’s parents came when he–”

Oh, Jesus. Seriously?

“Mom, first of all, that is a terrible analogy in that I’m not becoming President of the United States. And secondly, the president’s parents are dead.”

“That’s true,” she conceded. Though to which part, I’m not sure.

She wonders why I don’t tell her things.

So anyway, I feel like eventually the speech is going to be the easy part. Clearly I’m a writer. The harder part will be stuff like pretending not to be dating Rick and finding something to wear and not falling down.

Oh, these people have no idea what they’ve done.