Who Wrote Every Radio Song Ever? I’d Like A Word.

I’m at the point now where I think that all music with words in English needs to be banned from my earshot, and I’m talking to rom-coms on television trying to convince the stupid women in them to stop falling in love with the guy who can’t make up his mind.

I’m smart enough not to attempt the radio or most of my music collection. I usually have Pandora going on my laptop (the internet music service, not the band) while I’m cleaning or cooking, but I didn’t do it yesterday while I was frantically dusting and scrubbing and washing on deadline because having one neighbor over for dinner turned into a party of eight and I hadn’t cleaned in two weeks. But I had to go to the grocery store for tomatoes and mixed greens, and everything that played over the speakers high above my head was about love or breakups, or came from the standard 1990s collection of wedding songs.

So for now, I can’t go to grocery stores. Or watch Sunday afternoon television. Or see a random issue of People Magazine, because Gwyneth Paltrow is on the cover as the most beautiful woman in the world. (Which, let’s be honest, is nauseating even if Jack’s future wife didn’t look like her.) I also have to avoid everything relating to baseball (Jack’s passion), horses (long story, multiple chapters), several streets and restaurants, an entire television station (another long story with multiple chapters) and a lot of non-rom-com movies.

And certain cocktails.

And church.

Ralph Lauren Blue. Listerine Pocket Strips.

And, weirdly, zebras. He’s afraid of zebras. Not that I see zebras a lot, but when I do, I instantly think of Jack.

I’m taking to heart a lot of what friends have said – including blog friends – about Jack’s impending marriage and what it means, or doesn’t, about our relationship and about him. I just got off the phone with Joey, himself heartbroken over the breakup of his first real relationship in years. He somehow was the first one to get through to me that it doesn’t matter what I knew about Jack before, and it doesn’t matter what Jack thought about his capacity for relationships before, and it doesn’t matter what I understood before. Jack has changed. That’s all that matters.

It’s hard, though, to synthesize that with everything I know about him for the last ten years, and what he’s told me about the ten years before that. It’s hard to believe that after ten years of showing him what love is, and nearly 50 years of his own life, it only took eight months for him to completely turn around his whole understanding of himself. The only way his marriage will work is if he really did turn that around within himself.

What still hurts is that, when I asked whether I had any significance in his life, he had no answer, which meant the answer was no. I asked him that more than a year ago, and I’m still not over it. I have realized that there were lies and there was hiding and there was evasiveness and there was a fundamental lack of respect for me after all the years we were so many things for one another – but that doesn’t mean I don’t love him anymore. I don’t wish he were marrying me instead of Gwyneth –  not because I don’t love him or can’t imagine it, but because he’s hurt me too much. But I can’t understand, at bottom, why he didn’t have the respect for me that I had earned.

I’m angry with myself, too. I have been, I guess, for a long time. It’s another thing I made peace with and now it’s come back, in light of the change in conditions that makes me wonder what was true before. I’m angry that I let myself love someone who wouldn’t love me, even though I tried more than once to stop and I couldn’t. I’m angry that it wasn’t the first time. I’m angry that I considered his feelings above mine all the time, that I avoided showing him the fullness of how I felt – good or bad – because I didn’t want to scare him away, and in the end he walked away anyway. Who wouldn’t have seen that coming? I’m mad at myself for hiding the nature of that relationship from even my closest friends other than him, because I knew they wouldn’t approve, that they would warn me it was a bad sign. That’s what I would have done, too, if it were them instead of me. I’m angry that I was happy loving him and only thinking, or guessing, or hoping that he loved me.

I have learned a few things, yes. And I applied some of what I learned with Rick. I’m hoping those are lessons I won’t forget. But I worry about what effect this will have on me in the future, should I meet someone else and have the stomach for anything more than “hello.” I made a conscious decision, at more than one point, to trust Jack. I wonder now if I will be able to do that again, or if I will struggle with it so much that whoever he is will be discouraged.

And the memories that float to the surface unbidden – I’d like for them to stop. Images and impressions and senses and jokes and looks and touches and the indelible mark of his condo and the smell of the air there when I walked through the door… now when it flashes, she’s in the room, too. It knocks the wind out of me every time.

Day six. Breathe in.

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?”

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.

 

Say, What’s That Shovel Doing There?

Okay, I’m telling you this story. I’m telling you this story because how many real life people can I tell this story to? Not that many, because they’ll all freak out. And you guys will too, kind of, but still, I’m telling you this story.

So I come home from work last night, it’s a touch after 11pm, I drive down the alley and I pull into my parking pad. As I get ready to get out of the car, I notice something leaning against the wall of my parking pad that I’ve never seen before. I’m kind of looking at it puzzledly (is that a word? I’m making it a word) for a minute, and then my next-door neighbor, Tyreese, opens his back door and holds up a hand and tells me to wait a minute. He’s making wide eyes at me. “Just wait. Just wait.”

Clearly something’s up. So I wait.

A minute later he comes back out and tells me that there were two guys behind my house just a few minutes before this. His girlfriend saw them, yelled at him, he jumped off the couch, put some clothes on, grabbed his gun and looked out the door. When he looked, they ran. He says they looked like teenagers. As he told me this I realized that the thing I saw propped against the wall of the parking pad is a shovel – one of those heavy iron ones – and there are footprints all over my metal cellar door. I had left the damned kitchen window blinds open by accident. That window is right above the cellar doors. The damned punks were going to break into, or at the very least were casing, my house. Tyreese had told me to wait when I first pulled up so he could look around a little, make sure no one was watching from anywhere. He was worried someone had been watching me come and go, waiting for me.

How awesome is Tyreese, by the way?

I knew when I bought this house that I was taking a chance. I mean, it’s the city, I’m a woman, I live alone, yadda yadda yadda. Frankly, living alone in a house as a woman is always a risk, no matter where you live, but you can’t be afraid your whole life. Still, though… two and a half months and some punks are breaking into my house? Come on. It’s not a bad neighborhood. Plus I’m so freaking careful it’s ridiculous. I bought my TV and had it shipped to the UPS facility so I could go pick it up instead of having it delivered here. I never put the box for it outside. I kept it in the basement. My dad took it to Pennsylvania to throw it out. Swear to God. That’s how careful I am.

So, I call the cops. The officer gets here pretty quick and I tell him the deal, and he says all the exact things one should not say to me at this stage in my life, post-predator/prey episode involving the court system and at least three detention facilities. Things such as: Yeah, they probably know your schedule, they know you’re coming and going, they target women who live alone.

Hey. Buddy. Can we not? With the stalker talk?

That’s not what he meant, of course; he meant that they do that so they know who the easy targets are for robberies. And I get that. Again, this was a risk I knew I was taking. But now I feel like some weak and defenseless damsel in distress all over again, and dammit, this was not supposed to happen. I have faith in this city and I have faith in this street where there has not been a crime report in months. Also, in that typically liberal, feminist, made-for-TV-movie way, I refuse to be a “victim in quotation marks.” But I noticed about 30 minutes after the cop left that the screen to my window was gone. I called him and he changed the report to an attempted breaking & entering. Definitely tried to break in. Tyreese probably stopped them just in time.

Tyreese and his girlfriend are getting some home-cookin’ for this, at the very least.

Also? The cop asked if I was okay, and I totally started crying. Never ask me if I’m okay. The longer he stood there staring at me and not believing I was okay because for some reason a woman ugly-crying in front of him indicates some level of not-okayness, the harder I cried. Poor guy felt bad.

Needless to say, the alarm company is coming tomorrow morning, bright and early, to install sensors on all three doors and all the ground floor windows, plus a motion detector inside and a remote access thingy so I can– well, frankly, so I can probably set off the alarm myself a gazillion times by accident. But mostly so I can get in and out the back door without setting the alarm off, since the keypad will be in the front.

Oh, and I was mid-text conversation with Rick when all this went down, so he got roped into the we’ve-had-exactly-three-dates-what-is-the-protocol-for-this situation. I was trying to keep him from feeling obligated and wound up feeling like an asshole drama queen for even telling him about it. The guy must think I’m a total spazz. First the stalker, which is the oh-so-romantic reason we met, and now this. But he informed me that he has dealt with drama queens before and I am so not that.

Phew.

I suppose I shouldn’t tell him about the creepy state trooper just yet, though.

Keep Your Arms and Legs Inside the Car At All Times

Well, right on cue, I’m getting neurotic.

I always wonder: am I the only one who gets like this? Or who gets like this beyond the age of 22? It makes me feel immature and destined to fail, like my nerves become a self-fulfilling prophesy as all the doubts flood my head and tell me, one way or another, “He’s going to ditch you. In a month, or two, at most, he’ll be gone.”

What evidence do I have for this? I hadn’t heard from Rick Tuesday, except for one response to a message I sent. That’s all. And I know. I know that’s stupid. I know it’s needy  of me. I knew he was at work, and very possibly in meetings all day long. The last three days he was off and had all the freedom in the world to talk with me, and he did. We’ve seen each other twice, there has been an official First Kiss, and he has said he can’t wait to see me again (when we can hopefully try the Next Kiss in an environment warmer than a parking lot at 2am in January). We’ve exchanged grin-inducing messages that made my face hurt for an hour.

He has told me I’m very pretty, and that I shouldn’t thank him for saying it because it’s just a fact.

Ohhhh, but I could fall hard for this one.

Enter the voices. He just got out of a relationship. Do you really want to be the rebound? 

(To which, quite honestly, the answer is, “Um, have you seen him? Yes. Yes, in fact, I do.”)

He’s still paying the rent on their place. Why is he paying it? Will he get his own place? Are they going to get back together? Why did they break up? Did he cheat? Will he wind up keeping me a secret for months because he thinks it looks bad that we went out so soon after his breakup? Or for some other reason? Does he even want a relationship right now or am I just salve for his pain? He worked for a politician and ran for office, himself… is he just a smooth operator? Is this chivalry of opened doors and pulled-out chairs just an act? Can I even believe him when he says such nice things to me? Will he just disappear, stop calling?

I have been kept a secret. I have been smooth-talked. I have been cheated on. I have been lied to. I have been disappeared on. These things don’t make me exceptional; most of them happen to everyone. I’m 35, so it’s happened to me much more than perhaps those who were married ten years younger and stayed that way. It’s a numbers game; the odds are stacked against me. And almost all relationships end. You really only hope for one Forever, and if you’re wise, you know that one won’t be perfect.

The problem is that when it ends those ways that many times, you start to think it’s because of you. And then every time it happens after that, your fears are only confirmed. And pretty soon you’re pretty sure it will happen again this time, no matter what, or who, this time is.

Today is Jack’s birthday. He was in a dream I had two nights ago, taking me to the doctor because I was badly ill. And that has happened in real life. But Rick was in a dream I had the night before that. Nothing too substantial, but he was there. Like real life. Jack will, I’m sure, be hovering on the edge of my consciousness today. This will be the first January 23rd in 10 years that I will not call and sing “Happy Birthday” to him, that I will not celebrate his existence. He doesn’t like fuss on this day, but I wonder if he will miss it.  And I’m sure that, in some way, Jack’s birthday is part of why I got neurotic about Rick.

Who, by the way, did end up in meetings all day, and we chatted through the night after he left work via those wondrous things with which I have a love-hate relationship: text messages.

Of course, once I heard from him, the neurosis cleared up. And we made a date for Friday.

It’s exhausting, being in my head. And my heart.

Guess I’d better buckle up.

Heartbeaten

There is a danger in having nearly unfiltered internet service at work. Namely, it allows me to creep on Jack and then have a torrent of self-aware recognitions that lead to a steady stream of tears down my face on my hour-long drive home, culminating in pouring myself a martini even though I’d put the wine in the fridge to chill down a bit.

As all of us who are on Facebook know, Facebook is going to destroy everything. Like, for example, relationships. Because it lets one person look up another person’s goings-on without them necessarily knowing, to the extent that their settings allow. And when that throws up a roadblock, it allows us to see their friends, and then work backward.

It’s basically sanctioned psychosis.

And so I found myself on Facebook, looking at Jack’s page even though I have hidden him from my news feed so I’m not tortured by the rare but consistent posts referencing runs and marathons and Gwyneth. And he hadn’t had anything interesting to say since Thanksgiving when he posted a generic good wish. That was hours after he had texted me one on Wednesday (the day before the holiday, of course – because he does that – he acknowledges significant dates the day before, so as  not to give one the impression that he’s thinking of one on the actual significant date). I had ignored it – the first time he had communicated in two and a half months, and I was not in the least bit interested in engaging, because if there is to be communication between us, it had better be in an actual voice-to-voice or face-to-face manner. None of this cowardly electronic shit. Sack up, asshole.

So anyway.

He hadn’t had anything interesting to say, but apparently he’d attended a party last Saturday.

I clicked.

Gwyneth’s party.

There’s her address.

Holy f&*k. It’s not even a block away from a house I looked at.

That. Would. Have.

SUUUUUUCKED.

Aside from wondering whether she rents or owns, and, if she owns, whether that makes her better than me since she’s also eight years younger and I just bought my house…. aside from that, you know what this means.  It means I googled the public property records looking for evidence of whether she owns the house. (I told you. Internet = sanctioned psychosis.) It means that I (not really) narrowly averted living less than a block from the woman who had essentially stolen my man. (No. To whom my man, who was not really my man, had gone, of his own inexplicable volition.) It also means I know her address. It’s like two miles from me. Which means I could, theoretically, cruise by some late night/early morning and see if his car is there, thereby confirming the nature of their “undefined” relationship.

Or not. If his car wasn’t there.  Thereby perpetuating my hell.

Ugh… I am entirely too old for this shit.

If you haven’t been single since your early twenties, you are probably totally alarmed right now by the thoughts that have already been posted here. Because seemingly, people who marry by their mid-20s never think crazy shit like this. They never had to.

So lucky (provided they’re still happily or at least not adulterously married).

And so it was that I started thinking yet again about why this whole thing with Jack hurts so much. And so it was that I had those recognitions I mentioned earlier. That I still just don’t understand how something that had lasted ten years and been so meaningful could be so easily dismissed in his mind and his heart that he wouldn’t even try to maintain it when push came to shove. That it is not only deeply painful, but very insulting. That, in healthy terms, I should not care to be attached or involved or at all connected to someone who could care so little about something that had meant so much… but that there are reasons I do:

Because, after all, there were real reasons I was so attached, involved and connected for so long.

Because believing he loved me enough, even though he never said it, was better than anything else I’d ever had, because no one has ever said it.

Because I believe that something that was wonderful for a long time, but less than what I wanted, was better than nothing at all.

Because feeling heartbroken for him seems better than feeling nothing for anyone.

Because it feels like giving up on loving him will mean giving up on loving entirely.

At the risk of being dramatic (oh, like it’s not too late for that disclaimer): I’ve had my heart broken kind of a lot. And I’m not, you know, totally crazy and pathetic, all evidence to the contrary. I’m not a hideous hunchback who got hit in the face with a bag of hot nickels, and I don’t get irrationally hung up.  I’d like to believe I’m regular-crazy and pathetic, at worst, because I’ve seen a step above that, and wow. But when you’ve had your heart broken kind of a lot, and you don’t fit the profile of someone other people shake their heads sadly about with any regularity, you come to a place where you’re just not sure you can take it again. There seems to be a limit. And you’re pretty sure that one more time will kill you inside. So you don’t want to let go of this time. Even though it hurts like hell, even though you don’t want to feel like this, you don’t want to let go, because you suspect that it’s your last chance to feel anything at all.

And so it is.

I love Jack, and I still see so much reason to love him, even though he’s a selfish, cowardly, stupid ass. And I don’t know if there’s any way at this point to fix it, to make it better. I know the best of us, the most of us, is probably gone. We don’t even speak. He doesn’t even know I bought a house.

But I love him still, and I miss who we were, and I hate where we are now.

Obviously, I expect to hear from Maury Povich any minute.

******
Now on my bookshelf: Rules of Civility – Amor Towles

I Don’t Have Multiple Personalities And Neither Do I

I think I scared Hottie McHousehunter.

This morning I had a face-to-face with him about the absolute shenanigans (I learned how to spell it since last time) going on with the house. Alright, not necessarily absolute. In reality, the seller has been very obliging to my requests. But as I pointed out to HMcH, I see a pattern. The compressor was missing from the property even at the point that I made an offer on the house, which he didn’t disclose. The furnace was a disaster and the heat didn’t work at inspection. The house wasn’t even ready for inspection, in fact. And the roof certification wasn’t done, eight days past the original closing date.

Last night, after a lot of thinking, and then some deliberate not-thinking, and some bouncing of ideas off some other people, some whiny self-pity and also some wine, I figured out what had to happen in order for me to be comfortable with the deal going through in light of the water damage brought on by Sandy and the fact that I have trust issues (example: Crap, what if the problem isn’t actually with the roof? What if a roofing cert does absolutely no good because the water is getting in somewhere else and then I’m completely screwed? What if this guy just gets his buddy to sign off on the roof with some sort of deal under the table? WHAT IF EUROPE COLLAPSES?).

You see what I’m saying.

Then I texted (yes, this is how we do business now) Hottie McHousehunter and asked him for a meeting.

I think he knew what was coming as we walked to a table outside a deli, but it was time for me to put on my I’m Not F*&!king Around face. He did not see that coming. He tried to get words in edgewise to sort of diminish the likely surprising amount of intensity I was showing, but I told him to let me finish. Ha. He was smart enough to do so.

“I want that wall ripped out and redone. I want the electrical certified. I want the leak found and fixed – permanently. I want the roof re-certified. I want a 12-month home warranty. I want the seller to pay for all the expenses associated with extending the contract, including any further appraisals or inspections that happen because of the repair, and including the charge got from the appraiser for going back out a second time when the work wasn’t done on the house the first time. If he doesn’t agree to all of that, I’m out.”

Hottie seemed to think all this was reasonable and doable. And possibly that I didn’t need to be quite so forceful about it. “Well, let’s not start saying he’s shady or anything, because he’s been really good about doing what you asked for.”

“I’m not accusing him of being shady,” I said. “I’m just saying I see a pattern.”

“…Okay.”

And that’s when I got to this part:

“Now, there’s one more thing we need to talk about, because it’s really bothering me.”

“…Okay…” (This guy must have felt like he was being blindsided by an upset girlfriend, all, “Um, we need to talk.”)

“Last week you told me that the house was fine after the storm, no problems. Yesterday you said you saw a piece of drywall had fallen and you told them to fix it. Why didn’t you tell me about that last week?”

He took the hint. It was a crack, and he thought he’d missed it before. He didn’t know it was related to the storm – the lights weren’t on and he wasn’t seeing any water damage. Now, of course, he knows it was probably water-related, but at the time he thought it was cosmetic.

“I would absolutely never lie to a client or try to cover something up. Ever.”

Good.

Good, because all this I’m Not F*&!ing Around business is making me cry a little, which is embarrassing and also undercuts my intentions, which is why I’m wearing sunglasses.

Note to self: talk with Ali Velshi about why being firm with a housebuying deal makes me cry. Possible explanation: Hottie McHousehunter is hot > I want him to like me > I am pathetic/sad.

Actually there’s probably a good dose of I don’t like being forceful because it makes me the “aggressive, assertive, sometimes bitchy” person other people assume forceful women to be, and I don’t want to be seen that way, because it’s not entirely true, and people like that are not loved. Even though society is all “Rah rah! You go girl!” Because that’s crap at least half the time, and what they actually think is, “You are a total high-maintenance bitch.”

Yep. All that because of water damage in a bedroom wall.

Welcome to my head.

In a personal victory, though, I did manage to hold back the vestiges of my maternal grandmother, and refrain from any kind of Germanic pointing during my whole I Can Do Homebuying All By Myself… thing.

But my fingers were twitching on the table.

Hottie and I are meeting with the seller at the house tomorrow morning to go over everything. I’m hoping the seller is amenable. I really do think the demands are reasonable… even though they’re… well… demands. But I need a plan for if he says no to something that shouldn’t really be a dealbreaker.

What do we think of pointing and crying?

 

The Perfect Storm

In case anyone has been wondering when I would reach my limit: Tuesday, October 30. 3:13pm. That’s when my brain oozed out my ears and I turned into that pink slime that runs under New York City in “Ghostbusters 2.”

Obviously, the house buying is a big part of it. Turns out, so are Jack and Sandy – two characters from dueling rock stars’ songs that have ravaged my heart in equal parts.

Wow. That was some nauseatingly dramatic prose, right there.

We basically know the Jack story. I mean it’s devolved since last I wrote about it, but who cares. (That’s a period because I don’t have the emotional energy required for a question mark.) He’s not really in my life anymore. The problem is that he’s still in my head, so it’s Groundhog Day all the time. It’s what my friend Angie and I call a “baseline crisis.” Always there, low level, but easy to access via any other life drama. Anything else that comes up brings him with it.

Sandy proved to be so crushing to the Jersey Shore that I ache with every photo and video I see. We don’t yet know how my parents’ house down there is; it’s on one of the barrier islands down south, and no one can get out there right now. The great majority of the coverage has been from areas north of Atlantic City. I don’t know how to describe the feeling of seeing all these images. The one place in the world that has consistently brought me peace since my childhood has been destroyed.

Those who don’t have a personal connection to the Jersey Shore tend to make jokes, but in 24 hours, people’s entire lives and lifelong memories got washed away. Every business there is a small business. They’re all mom & pops. Tourist season will take a big hit and the entire state’s economy will suffer.  Not to mention the people whose life dream has been carried out to sea. I’ve been told that every storm is bad for every region it hits, and that’s true. But this one is personal, and it goes beyond devastating.

Fortunately, all my friends and family up and down the seaboard are fine, including those in Jersey and New York (though some friends have lost cars, and others haven’t seen their kid since Saturday because they’ve been working and the kid’s been home in Hoboken with the nanny, cut off from the world and now apparently set to be evacuated by the National Guard. They didn’t ignore an evacuation warning, to be clear. Shit just got real in ways they didn’t expect).

Rewind: While I was worrying about the then-looming storm and what it would unleash on the coast, my city and my workplace, I’d spent the weekend unable to get a hold of Hottie McHousehunter. I kinda needed to know what might happen to what, in retrospect, was the adorable idea of closing on the house Tuesday. I finally reached him Monday afternoon. I was at work. HMcH told me he was at home, thinking about how apparently the only thing people do in hurricanes is drink milk and use the bathroom, based on grocery store shelf data. (As opposed to my preferred method of storm preparation: wine, books and non-perishable tasty food… and what I really do instead: pack a bag and go to work.) When Hottie confirmed that closing was on hold until the house can be checked out again, and that the earliest that would happen is Thursday, that was it. There was nothing else that could be done. I had to switch my brain off homebuyer mode.

Except for constantly wondering if there was a sewage backup in the basement. Or water. Or a roof leak. Or a window leak. Or fish in the toilet. I mean don’t get me wrong – I was glad I didn’t sign on Friday and own the place when the entire ocean decided to migrate westward and bring a seaboard-sized wind tunnel with it, while I had to be at work just wondering if all these things were happening on my dime.

But anyone who’s bought a house knows the stress, and the constant “the underwriter needs this,” “the underwriter needs that,” “the seller says this,” “the inspector says that,” “the underwriter wants to see this again.” I was hoping all of that would be over as of Tuesday. As I mentioned in a previous post, my very carefully constructed schedule of painting and moving with no time off has collapsed. The light at the end of the tunnel suddenly went out and I sort of started rocking back and forth and muttering nonsensically.

When I got back into work Tuesday afternoon after being there til 2am, I discovered that someone had jacked up my computer and forwarded calls from some random phone to mine. Could I unforward them? Nope. And all of a sudden every little thing had me irked. Soon I felt that everyone needed to just be quiet until I told them they were allowed to speak again. But it wasn’t until someone teased me that I’m not actually from the Jersey Shore and therefore can’t “own” the disaster there that I realized I was a woman on the edge. I actually cried. And then I sat there going, “Why am I crying?”

Call forwarding. That was my undoing.

I got home Tuesday night around 11pm, poured a very large glass of wine and laid down on my couch. (Tricky drinking. I did it. I win.) I zoned out to “Sex and the City” reruns and tried to let everything that had been adding up in my head go away. I slept for 11 hours.

HMcH called on my way to work and said the bank wanted to close today. No can do. So then it was going to be Thursday. And now Friday.

By the time I actually own this house, I’m just going to lie down on the floor and whimper.

And then have Hottie McHousehunter over to warm it.

In Which I Have (Almost) No Real New Things To Say

Plant Matter
Update: I got a call from my stupid apartment management company’s property manager, who was very nice and I think believed me when I said I hadn’t received a letter from her because I don’t get my mail at my address. (It’s true, I don’t. But I did get the letter. I just ignored it.) Anyway, she said she hated to make the call and she herself thinks it’s dumb, and then, sotto voce, “can you go buy some tables and bring me the receipt and I’ll take care of it?”

Well. That’s hard to argue.

She set a limit of $30. My plants are now sitting on overturned storage cubes stacked three-high. I don’t like them, but whatever. I can use them for other stuff later, or give them away. They’re also about four inches too short, so I still need a way to boost the plants to exactly the height of the railing and thumb my nose.

“Don’t tell your neighbor we’re doing this,” she said to me.

Oh, I’m totally telling the neighbor.

The Proper Way To Have A Car Accident
Update: The car has been repaired without argument of any kind from anybody. I continue to be amazed at this. Oh, except for one quibble…

Me to car shop guy: “Everything looks great. Just one thing: there’s a V6 decal on the bumper, and my car’s not a V6.”

Car shop guy: “But we got that off your car.”

Me: “No, my car’s not a V6.”

Car shop guy: “We got that off your car!”

Me: “Nnnnooo, you got that off someone else’s car.”

Car shop guy: “That decal came off your car. I have pictures. Pictures never lie.”

Me (getting testy): Sir, I’ve had the car for six and a half years. It’s not a V6.”

Car shop guy (looking at pictures): “…Well this is embarrassing.”

They fixed it.

Paradox
Update: Still pissed at Jack.

That is all.

Awe-Inspiring. Not In A Good Way
Update: Still pissed at Rep. Akin for being a fucktard who doesn’t know A) where babies come from, and 2) that there is no distinction between “legitimate” rape and any other kind. Except now actually more pissed, because he got defensive about four hours after his allegedly heartfelt apology and insisted he had only used one wrong word in one sentence, one time. When in reality, he used bunches of wrong words in three sentences, all strung together, which he continues to mostly defend except for the part about rape maybe not totally sucking. Which he’s still, frankly, a little dodgy on. Meanwhile…

Theater of the Absurd
Update: …the election conversation has gotten caught up in the debate over abortion and rape, and there are people who find this “distracting.” Well, I find that insulting. Because there are, in fact, other issues in the country than the economy, and those issues must be dealt with as well, and when lawmakers are arguably closer than ever to repealing Roe v. Wade (which I don’t think will actually happen for all sorts of reasons, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try really hard) and they’d staked their hopes of regaining control of the Senate in large part on Rep. Akin’s presumed win over Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, the country needs to talk about abortion and rape. Especially since Rep. Akin co-sponsored a bill with Rep. Paul Ryan and — wait for it — more than 100 other congressional representatives (list below if you’re curious) that used the phrase “forcible rape” as an exception to abortion law. The bill never defines what “forcible” means.

I do not make my position on abortion clear, one way or another, on this blog. But the reason I find this important to talk about is that implying that a rape need be “forcible” in order to validate a woman’s desire for an abortion throws the burden of responsibility for the rape back on the woman. She must now prove her attack was forcible in order for it to “count.” Well, by definition, rape is the act of sexual penetration against the victim’s will. Pretty much means they were forced. What qualifies as “forcible?” Weapons? What about bare hands around her throat? What if there are no weapons but the guy says he’ll kill her if she doesn’t comply? What if she freezes? What if she can’t scream? What if her boyfriend does it? What if it was her husband?

Telling women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies is one thing. Telling them what men can and can’t do to their bodies is another.

I’ve never been raped. Thank God. But I did have a stalker, who I couldn’t identify, and who had access to my building. And I can tell you this: every night, when I came home, I knew he might be inside the building, waiting for me. And I thought about what would happen if he came up from behind and shoved me inside when I opened my apartment door. I thought about what might be the best ways to get away. I thought about how I might be able to fight him off. I thought about whether I should take a different tack if he had a gun, or a knife, or if he tried to strangle me, or if he just said he’d kill me. Or even if he didn’t threaten my life at all.

No one should ever have to explain to the government why her rape was “forcible.”

And no lawmaker should ever think she should.

********
Co-sponsors of the original version of H.R. 3, in which “forcible” rape is required:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3

Note: at the bottom are listed those who joined the bill after its first version. The word “forcible” was removed after the first version. Also note: this bill deals with federal funding for abortion, which may explain some representatives’ reasons for signing on.

 

Paradox

Danger: torturous honesty ahead. This post will either kill your soul or make you want to smack me. I hereby apologize to the new subscribers I’ve picked up as a product of my last political post being Freshly Pressed. This post might leave you Freshly Depressed. Orientation: I write about all kinds of stuff, depending on where I am in my head on a given day. Normally I’m much funnier. And I will be again, and it won’t be fake or anything. Don’t feel like you can’t believe my irrepressible wit and snark just because this post exposes one of the reasons I’m witty and snarky in my real life.

End disclaimer.

*******

“What remains of your past if you didn’t allow yourself to feel it in the moment?”

David Rakoff wrote that. He just passed away at the age of 47 – the age he had previously thought he had been born to be. It was the sentiment he used to describe his tendency to avoid intimacy – not the sexual kind, no, the emotional kind – by using humor. It’s how he described the irony of wanting to be known without anyone knowing that which he liked least about himself.

Guardedness is, to some degree, natural. But I’ve always been more guarded than most. I’ve mentioned before that my intention in starting this blog was at least partly to be less guarded and more “out there” with how I feel about things. As is inevitable with me, I turned a lot of it into wry comedy. Well, that’s genuine. That is me. It’s more fun, it’s more appealing, and I tend to laugh at a lot of things in life, or at least employ biting sarcasm. But I haven’t generally allowed myself to be less guarded. I’ve done it in a few posts (to some readers’ alarm). But mostly, I had hit on a formula that made people laugh, that made people comment, that made people hit the “like” button so their shining faces and icons would line up neatly in a row (or two, now that I’ve finally been FP’d) at the bottom of my text. It made people like me. I’m Sally Field, over here.

I am, truly, a pretty twisted sister with a sick sense of humor. In my real life, I tend to be awfully intense if I’m not making jokes. I’m not one of those obnoxious people who is always on and never shuts up, like Robin Williams. You don’t listen to me and immediately think, “She’s covering something up with her humor.” I just happen to be pretty quick with a quip. But yeah, I’m intense if I’m not joking. Like, it’s got the potential to freak people out. My friend Joey once said he thinks I feel things more deeply than most people do. Joey, by the way, is a playwright in New York whose two younger brothers died, less than a year apart, in auto accidents, and whose two stepsisters no longer speak to the family because they’re suing his mother over their late half-brother’s trust, which was bequeathed when their father – Joey’s stepfather – shot himself in the head 11 years ago. Joey is also a recovering alcoholic. And gay. So for him to say I feel things more deeply than most people do… Oy. I didn’t know – still don’t – if that’s true, but I worry that it is. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. It’s a miracle I still have both my ears. (Somewhere, Vincent Van Gogh just cocked his head and said, “What?”)

How do you balance wanting to be just like everyone else with wanting to be unlike anyone else?

Jack ran his Iceland marathon with Gwyneth today. I woke up for no reason at 7:30am and immediately wondered if I were somehow psychically connected to him. What time is it in Reykjavik? I had no idea. Maybe they just finished…?

Why do I care?

When I read the Facebook post about how the run had gone, I bristled as soon as my eyes lit on the word “we.” “We.” Since when do you use that word, Jack? In ten years I don’t think I’ve ever heard you or seen you use that word. You’ve performed linguistic gymnastics- with stunning ease- to avoid using it. Now you’re playing it fast and loose like it’s nothing, like you’ve used it every day about everybody since time immemorial, and you claim it’s completely meaningless. “We finished in 3:31:53, a personal best for Gwyneth in her seven-marathon career.” 

Okay, first of all, you know what? Fuck her personal best. Fuck her seven marathons. Your Facebook friends don’t even know her, except for seven of us who have worked with her. Why should the other 190 even care about how she ran? “We finished in 3:31:53.” You had to cross the finish line together? Why can’t you run your own damned race? You could have finished faster, I know it. You let her slow you down.

So he could be her hero. So he could be there for her. Step by step. “Just running buddies.” We.

It enraged me.

Which makes, by the way, absolutely no logical sense whatsoever. I mean… they were just… running.

And that’s the kind of stuff I generally suppress. I don’t allow myself to feel that kind of senseless anger, or any sort of knee-jerk emotion, without stopping, figuring out why I feel it, and then massaging the less comfortable parts of it away like so much muscle pain. I think it’s the grown-up way to handle one’s proverbial shit. But thanks to Ali Velshi, my new therapist, I’m assigned to try embracing the knee-jerk a little more. Oh, joy. His point: my tendency to suppress my feelings is usually because I want to be “fair” to the person to whom I’m reacting, even when they’re not around. I’m assuming, he says, about 70% of the responsibility for that which is only 50% mine to bear. What about what’s fair to me?

For the record, I didn’t comment on the Facebook post, for two reasons. One: all I could think to say was something nasty and low, and even though I’m supposed to stop caring so much about what’s fair to someone else, I am an adult in my mid-30s and I was still raised not to be a total immature snot. And also because (okay, mostly because) if I had commented, or even clicked “like,” (which herein would become merely a twitch of support rather than an actual tacit approval of all the words Jack had used), I would have been exposed, over and over, to every comment anyone else would make, thereby forcing me to reread the post any number of times to make the stupid red notices on the screen go away, thereby making me bang my head on the desk exactly that many times.

I didn’t cry. I couldn’t find a word to describe how I felt. I let myself feel whatever it was without knowing what it was. I bent forward in the shower, stretching my back, letting the hot water sluice over me, my mind a dull, nonspecific ache of getting ready for my day while letting go of a never-defined relationship in which I had loved someone more than I ever had before, trusted him more than I’d ever trusted anyone before, while never quite letting him see all my flaws because I knew they would scare him away.

Should you happen to be possessed of a certain verbal acuity coupled with a relentless, hair-trigger humor and surface cheer spackling over a chronic melancholia and loneliness – a grotesquely caricatured version of your deepest self, which you trot out at the slightest provocation to endearing and glib comic effect, thus rendering you the kind of fellow who is beloved by all yet loved by none, all of it to distract, however fleetingly, from the cold and dead-faced truth that with each passing year you face the unavoidable certainty of a solitary future in which you will perish one day while vainly attempting the Heimlich maneuver on yourself over the back of a kitchen chair – then this confirmation that you have triumphed again and managed to gull yet another mark, except this time it was the one person you’d hoped might be immune to your ever-creakier, puddle-shallow, sideshow-barker variation on adorable, even though you’d been launching this campaign weekly with a single-minded concentration from day one – well, it conjures up feelings that are best described as mixed, to say the least.

~David Rakoff, “Half Empty”