Archive for October, 2012


Ain’t too proud to craig

Just kind of out of curiosity, I posted an ad in the “platonic” section of my local craigslist a couple weeks ago.  I got replies from… 4 people.  No one actually wants to have tea and scones and watch MST3k, which is pretty much what I said I wanted, but a couple of them, at least, might have some potential.  I also replied to two ads from other people.  One responded, and we’d been exchanging some pleasant emails.  Actually, of the people I’ve been interacting with from this, he seemed to have the most potential to be a solid friend down the road.  Alas, it all came to nothing.  We were discussing maybe going hiking this weekend, and then he sent me a note basically saying he’s not really in the best place right now, feels kind of like a loser because he’s currently unemployed and feels like he needs to focus on getting himself on some kind of track.  So that was kind of a bummer.  I met one of the guys who responded to my ad for a couple drinks yesterday.  He seems nice, though a bit awkward.  I had one woman respond.  She seems pleasant enough but no real rapport developing.  One of my jobs this evening is to respond to her latest email, and another guy who I suspect I won’t have a lot to talk about with but ya never know.

 

That’s all I got right now.

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Bit o’ this, bit o’ that

Today turned into a more or less positive experience.  Went uptown for the street cleanup.  Only the president and I showed up.  So we chatted for a bit and then went our separate ways.  I rescheduled the cleanup for a few weeks from now.  The weather was marvelous.  Walking back to where I’d parked my car I thought, I can’t just go back to the house and stay inside all day.  I’ve got to be outside somehow!  So I decided to pack up my textbook and study for my test outside at one of our local coffee shops.  I spent a good couple hours there, enjoying the feel of outside!  The high today was 66 F and it was breezy (courtesy of hurricane Sandy?).  So nice.

Now I’m lounging on the couch, a purring, sleeping kitty on my lap (and arm… requiring me to type one-handed) and another on the top of the cushion behind me.

I pulled up a really simple recipe for white bean soup that I can make later this week.  I’d like to make some caraway rye sometime soon, but making bread after work really isn’t practical if I want to get a good night’s sleep.

Anyway, despite the recent tendency toward being negative, today turned out pretty good.

I wonder how I can learn to be less judgmental.  What causes that tendency within me?  My first thought is that it’s self-protective.  Because I am isolated, it is easier on my feelings (which yearn for connection!) to set myself further apart with feelings of superiority.  Therefore it becomes not, “why can’t I connect with these people?” but “I don’t want to connect with these people, they’re immature, crude, noisy, smokers, meat-eaters, etc.”  If I’m right, there’s a constant conflict within me.  I don’t want to feel like I’m better than anyone.  I know intellectually that I am not.  At the same time, I don’t want to have to “be like them” to fit in, to connect.

Here’s an example.  I scheduled the atheist group’s quarterly street clean-up for today.  Then later on, another member posted a Halloween/birthday party for last night.  Talking with another member (NM, actually) at our guest speaker event on Friday, he asked if I was going to the party.  I said no and followed up with my reasoning that “any party with Jell-o shots is not the kind of party I want to attend.”  What came out of my mouth after that was purely uncensored judgment, something about not wanting to spend my Saturday night with a whole bunch of drunken, noisy, immature “adults.”  Which is exactly how I felt about it.  He called me on it immediately, and I kind of resented that.  But it was fair.  I was openly judging the other members of the group for being people who enjoyed getting a little wild and partying in the modern sense of the word.

I was also a little resentful because I feel that, because people attended the party last night, they will be hung over and not interested in attending my street clean-up today.  And it’s true, only 6 people have RSVP’d for the street clean-up.  The last 2 times it was 10 or 12 people and the first time it was over 20.  It’s hard for me to understand why more people wouldn’t want to spend a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon picking up trash in uptown Charlotte.  I say that with a touch of sarcasm — as I type it, I do kind of understand why people wouldn’t want to do that.  I have a hard time not judging them as “selfish.”  The group’s mission statement includes “put a positive face on atheism.”  What I don’t understand is why more of them aren’t interested in doing that.  I don’t know.  I guess in part my displeasure is personal.  As though somehow low turnout at my street clean-up is a reflection of my own popularity.

It all comes down to selfishness, I guess.  I’m selfish, they’re selfish.  We all are.  It’s part of what makes us human.  One of the things “The Untethered Soul” talks about it how ridiculous it is to try to make the world conform to what we want it to be.  The only thing we can control in this world is our own actions.  The world happens the way it happens whether we like it or not.  People act the way they act whether we like it or not.  I must act on my own convictions whether or not anyone else will join me.  But it’s hard.  Very hard for me.  Must keep trudging up that hill.

The last 36 hours

Had brunch with NM.  It’s funny, maybe it was just getting stuck in football game traffic, but about halfway there I was thinking, “man, I don’t really wanna do this.”  When I got there I was feeling pretty cool, probably feeling wounded by the no-shows Saturday night.  He was not nearly apologetic enough for my taste.  I admit I slipped into a little passive-aggressiveness.  And the man TALKS, let me tell you.  It’s funny, I was totally into him for a few weeks, even up to a few days ago, but listening to him talk over brunch was downright painful.  I appreciate a talker, but he just fills every moment, and I don’t have time to slip in if there does happen to be a break.  Funny how I didn’t seem to mind at first.

Anyway, we walked around the neighborhood for a while after that, then as we were about to get into our respective cars he started: “I don’t want to seem like a total jerk…”  (sidenote: it’s not jerky to be honest vis a vis a prospective relationship) so I said, “Go for it.”  He continued “I don’t really see any longevity in this…” To which I agreed emphatically.  I really, really had to pee or we could have chatted longer about how it wouldn’t work to drag it out any longer.  But yeah, after brunch and after-brunch conversation, I was also pretty much done.  As soon as he said it a light sort of went off in my head like “Bingo.”

This doesn’t mean that my subconscious didn’t process it like any other rejection.  I got home completely exhausted and promptly fell into bed, which is what I do when I’m unable/unwilling to process something just yet.  Ended up staying there the rest of the evening and through the night, then got up for work as normal this morning.

Here’s when it got crappy.  Halfway through my commute I started to feel what I hadn’t let myself feel on Sunday afternoon.  The combination of being stood up by my one friend and this guy on Saturday, plus the perceived rejection on Sunday, brought home all those feelings of unworthiness and abandonment that I probably should have seen coming but didn’t.  I guess I thought since I’d done such a good job dealing with things on Saturday night, I was through.  But no, here it came.  I spent the first 2 hours at work sniffling and shedding tears, going back and forth between doing my regular Monday work routine and feeling completely worthless and unqualified to do my job, unloved and unlovable.  In desperation I sent my therapist an e-mail about how hurt I felt about having been stood up by my friends on Saturday night.  Not expecting any therapy back, I just couldn’t think of anyone else to share that with.

I ultimately asked my boss if I could leave at noon.  I wasn’t crying anymore by that point, but I also wasn’t getting much work done.  I came home, cried some, carved my pumpkins, cried some more, read another chapter of “The Untethered Soul,” lay down and talked to myself, closed my eyes for a bit.  Then I got up and took a shower (my shoulders are sore from the sun salutations… chataranga kicks my ass), got dressed, made some coffee (I finally got around to getting myself a French Press), repotted some plants and here I am.  Not feeling 100%, but not feeling awful.

One thing that came up when I was talking to myself was the memory of getting lost at the mall when I was 3.  I wondered if my intense fear of abandonment/rejection stems from that occasion or others like it.  It seems likely enough.  Alone, helpless, surrounded by a bunch of adults I didn’t know (trying to find out who I belong to), trying to weigh the likelihood that I could make it home on foot if I tried (it was about a mile from the mall to our house).  It’s pretty amazing to think that my intense reactions to rejection at age 30 could all stem from that one event 27 years ago.  I’ll have to remember to see what Mom thinks about that, and hopefully remember to mention it to my therapist when I see her next month.  Anyway, continuing to feel better as I type.  Thankfully.

Strange goings-on

I woke up this morning at about 5:50.  This is strange in and of itself.  I figured it was just because I had to pee.  When I got back to bed I realized I was completely awake.  I was filled with a strange, giddy euphoria and I had Rufus Wainwright’s song “Movies of Myself” firmly stuck in my head.  I’m not quite sure what to make of it.  I managed to get back to sleep eventually (unwilling to get up before the sun rises, at least!) but not after a whole lot of smiling at the beauty of life.  Then I got a spam text around 8 which woke me again, and now here I am, resigned to consciousness much earlier than I would normally be on a Sunday morning.  That sense of euphoria is gone, the song is still there.  I don’t feel bad mind you, just not that weird giddiness from a few hours ago.  It was truly strange.  I hope it has to do with my experience last night, but I can’t be sure.  In the meantime, I’m going to have some tea and an apple and maybe do a few sun salutations.  Not going to bother NM (I’m supposed to text him when I wake up, haha) until at least 10.

So I heard back from NM at about 10 saying he was just leaving his family and yeah, he was pretty exhausted.  Which is about what I expected, but it was still not fun to read.  I’m not ashamed to say I cried some.  A combination of the disappointment, a little hurt, and that victim feeling.  But I did feel as I was crying that it did not mean I was unhappy.  It was a momentary thing, and it passed.  I am doing my utmost not to be passive-aggressive toward my friend and NM, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job. So far.  I made plans to get brunch with NM tomorrow which is also nice.

As I type this, and view this practice experience as something of a triumph, I also realize this sort of thing will be very, very difficult to repeat.  It’s a great, very positive start, and I am thrilled at the apparent success, but I don’t pretend it will make the next challenge any easier.

BUT if I continue to remind myself a) I want to be happy, unconditionally; b) I have no control over anything but my own actions; and c) Life just Is, I may have half a chance at a second success down the road.

I’ve been looking forward to having my friend, her boyfriend, and NM over tonight to carve pumpkins.  We made the plans a week or so ago and I spent all day cleaning the house and setting up the living room to be safe for pumpkin mess.

Early in the day, my friend says she doesn’t think her boyfriend will make it.  Then she says she’s feeling sick.  I shrug and keep moving.  It occurs to me that she could use the feeling sick as an excuse to back out, but whatever, she hasn’t yet.  Then in the evening she says she’s still stuck at work and also feeling crampy.  I sigh, but don’t offer a rain check, only sympathy.  Then she gets home and tells me how crappy she’s feeling and that she probably wouldn’t be much fun to be around.

A few hours before the last two text messages I read the next chapter of “The Untethered Soul.”  The chapter I needed to get me through this disappointment.  The chapter says we have to make the choice to be happy.  We have to say “I want to be happy” and not qualify it with things like “unless my friend bails on our plans.”  Am I disappointed? Of course I am, because I thought it would be a really fun night, the four of us hanging out, laughing, carving pumpkins.  I’m sure it would have been, if all the pieces had come together like I wanted them to.  But is this disappointment worth getting unhappy over?  Absolutely not.

So I told her not to worry about it, we’d hang out another time.

NM had messaged me earlier saying some family was in town for today only, so he’d be spending some time with them for a while.  I sighed.  But he didn’t say he wasn’t coming.  But since my friend and her boyfriend aren’t coming, and I know NM must have had quite a busy day, I sent him a message that I would understand if he preferred to just go to his own home after getting done with family.  I haven’t heard back from him yet, so who knows, maybe he’ll decide to come hang out after all.  But I am operating on the assumption that he probably won’t — if it were me, and I’d had as much going on today as he did, I would be eager to get back to my own home and relax.

Again, it’s disappointing.  I do feel these twinges of displeasure, victimhood, “why does this always happen,” etc.  I’m not trying to suppress them, exactly.  At least, I hope I’m not.  I’m just trying to be aware of them, while at the same time being aware that these things do not make me, do not determine whether or not I am happy right now.

One thing that’s rather nice is that I did all that housecleaning earlier.  My house it tidier than it has been in months, and even though it was motivated by the prospect of NM coming over and staying the night, the fact that that’s fallen through doesn’t take away from how absolutely wonderful it is to have a clean house!  And I made black bean hummus and the rest of that pot pie, and they are both delicious!!  And I have been entertaining myself by reading “The Screwtape Letters,” which I have never read but always intended to.  And it is quite entertaining.  And I have a fluffy kitty curled up on the sofa beside me as I read.  These are all things to enjoy and be pleased about.  They, too, don’t define my happiness, but focusing on the positive is helpful, I think.

random sidenote: I’m experimenting with a regimen of a few ounces of kombucha daily to see if it helps my digestive issues any.

Learning, a bit

I had an interesting experience yesterday with NM.  We met at a movie theatre to catch a crazy Japanese movie the film society was screening.  I think he moved to embrace me, but I must have pulled back a little or something.  I think I just slipped into my standard flippant self-protective persona.  In the movie we hardly touched the whole time.  We both enjoyed the movie thoroughly.  After, we chatted briefly outside, and as we moved to go our separate ways, embraced in a friendly way.  I thought, he’s not gonna kiss me.  What’s up with that?  Completely not realizing that it was probably my behavior at the start of the evening that made him think maybe I didn’t want to go that route anymore.  But I’d sort of been looking forward to kissing him for most of the day.  So I couldn’t let him get away without it, or ay least without trying.  Rejection be damned.  So I said, “can I kiss you before you go?”  And he replied “yeah! I didn’t think you wanted to.”  So we shared a nice series of kisses before parting.

It wasn’t until I was driving home that I began to process the course of the evening and realize that I may well have given that impression when we first arrived.

It’s a lack of awareness that caused me to lapse into my non-present self-protective mode.  He’s coming over tomorrow eve to hang out and carve pumpkins.  I am determined to be more aware, more present and more emotive — I think it’s only fair.  I realize I’ve spent most of my conscious life trying to hide what I was feeling, ashamed of my feelings, afraid of being ridiculed or taken advantage of.  It will take some effort for me to share my true, honest feelings, impulses and inclinations.  But it will be good for me.  This guy’s pretty cool.  One thing I like about him is his apparent unselfconsciousness.  It sort of helps me feel how absurd my own self-concsiousness is.

Anyway.  That’s all I got for now.

Treading cautiously

I’m attempting to gauge whether I’m on a New Man high or if I’m genuinely feeling better these days.  It’s really hard to tell.  On the one hand, I am feeling better these days.  Tonight I’m cooking a big pot of vegetable stew, which will be the base for a pot pie with a pumpkin biscuit topping instead of the standard pot pie pastry (courtesy of Fatfree Vegan).  I have a small glass of red wine (courtesy of Trader Joe’s) and I’m clean, having showered after I got home from work.  The stew smells marvelous!  The seitan has to simmer another 15 minutes and then I make the pumpkin biscuits.

What struck me about this moment, and the reason I thought to write about it at all, is how seemingly carefree and mellow I feel.  It’s sad that I’ve come to distrust that sort of feeling, but my experience with this sort of not-depressed feeling is that I do something or say something or something and I end up looking back at this little euphoric moment with disgust.  It’s a strange conflict within me, trying to enjoy and appreciate this positive flow of emotion but at the same time trying not to buy into it too much — like I think it’s a con or something.  And my distrust is valid, I think.  It’s more than a little suspicious that I am feeling more positive, more motivated, less self-critical, at a time when I’ve been on a few dates with a guy I’ve been crushing on and who hasn’t disappointed me yet.  So you see, I can’t entirely trust myself in these matters.  I suppose that’s where meditation helps.

I guess what my concern is is that I feel quite strongly that an individual’s happiness is not solely contingent on the presence of an intimate relationship in their life.  I mean, sure, it probably helps, but I know that I have a lot of issues still to deal with, and I don’t want to see myself laying those aside because of some illusion of contentedness that is a natural byproduct of New Man high.  (I guess he’ll be NM from now on, eh?)

The mind is so complicated.  I guess I can vent some of this out on my therapist this Thursday, too.  But I was telling mom — it’s so funny — my therapist asks me if I’m seeing anyone every time we meet.  I guess it’s not that farfetched, but every time she asks I’m a little amused and a little annoyed.  After all, being in a relationship is not going to solve my problems!  But she knows I struggle with feelings of loneliness, of disconnectedness, so I guess she thinks having someone near my life could potentially be beneficial.  I guess that’s what it is.  So I won’t be annoyed anymore when she asks.  And of course, this time I’ll have a different answer for her.  Watch her fall out of her chair when I tell her I asked him out! (she won’t, but she’ll be absolutely thrilled)

So that’s where I am now.  At this moment content, warm, hopeful and suspicious.  I’m afraid to let go of the suspicion.  I suppose that’s the last little piece of self-protection.  The author of “The Untethered Soul” would tell me to “just let it go…. open my heart… relax and release.”  Maybe I should try that, pain be damned.  We’ll see.  Maybe after another glass of wine.