Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

If You Can’t Beat ’em… April 16, 2012

I had a little run in with Chris’s crazy neighbor the other day. Remember her?  Well for the last year she’s gone out of her way to avoid talking to me, even as she went out of her way to talk to everyone else, including Chris’s daughters and their friends, routinely holding them captive on the sidewalk or half inside their cars.

But apparently she’s had a change of heart.

It started small – one day last week I passed her on the sidewalk and she made a random comment about something to do with her kids and playing in the parking lot.  I offered an unconvincing laugh and something along the lines of “oh… hmmm” as I continued walking. She called something else after me as I turned the corner so I gave an even less convincing head nod and vague hand wave as I continued on my way. (At that point it occurred to me at perhaps Chris and his girls simply aren’t rude enough.)

Then this week, as I walked up the sidewalk toward Chris’s house, she came out of her house, her gaze locked on me, and I knew with certainty that we were going to have a conversation.

Part of me was a little excited that I was going to get a “Neighbor Lady” story of my own to share when everyone else told theirs.

As we came face to face in front of her car, she reached out to put her hand on my arm, surprising me so much that I froze in my tracks, thus eliminating any small hope of escape that might have existed.

“Can you talk to Chris about,” she said, and my brain immediately shifted into slow motion and several things moved through my mind:

“She has a problem with Chris?”

“How can she have a problem with Chris? Nobody ever has a problem with Chris.”

“What could this bitch possibly have to say about my boyfriend, and why does her tone suggest I’m his mother?”

“Should I set my bags down in case I need to scratch her eyes out?”

And then I realized she was still talking, so I clicked my brain back into gear and rewound the tape so I could get the rest of her sentence. Which was:

“…about recycling.”

Ok, so I should explain. Chris doesn’t actually recycle. I know, its shocking and you’re probably suddenly worried that you’ll be guilty by association for reading a blog by a person who is in a relationship with a person who doesn’t recycle. (Don’t pretend you weren’t doing it.) I don’t want to get sidetracked from this story with a meta discussion about social shame and recycling, so I’ll just say that I asked him why he doesn’t recycle a few months ago, and what I took from the conversation is that he’s not adamantly opposed to recycling like some right-wing nut who thinks it’s another way for the government to control us. It’s more that he sees it as just one more thing to coordinate and deal with on top of all the other things he has to deal with and coordinate in his life. I got the impression that if someone else wanted to take responsibility for it, he wouldn’t object.

So back to my conversation with the Neighbor Lady.

Once I process her statement, I realize she’s staring at me waiting for a response. My liberal shame and social guilt is quickly replaced with glee as I realize she’s giving me blog content.

Me: oh yeah…um, well… sure…

NL: Because really, he should recycle. Why doesn’t he recycle?

Me: Yeah…I don’t know. He’s quirky like that.

NL: I can get him a bin. I think if we just make it really easy for him, we can get him to do it.

Did you see what she did there? “If WE just make it really easy for him.” WE. Apparently she and I are now a team. Apparently since she couldn’t get rid of me, she’s going to partner up with me.

My personal opinions on recycling are replaced by my desire to not be a team with her.

Me: ah? uh huh…

NL: I went through his garbage the other day and I noticed that it’s mostly plastics and so if he even just started with that…

Yes, she said that. Unabashedly. I had to contain my glee at how good a story this was going to be.

Me: yeah…he does use a lot of plastic…

I say this just to have something to say, but I then immediately feel disloyal. Saying something like that is not going to demonstrate that I’m on Chris’s team, not hers.

NL: I mean, if he just did plastics and maybe some cans…

Me: yeah, that would make a difference

Crap! I’m the worst teammate ever. I’m torn between getting away and getting more material.

NL: But really, why won’t he recycle?

Me: ahh, yeah. I don’t know…he has a thing about it…?

I know it doesn’t sound like it, but this is actually me being a good teammate. I’m not going to explain to her why he’s not recycling because that will reveal too much about him. But I’m also not willing to engage her in a conversation about the reasons against recycling because that will make it look like I care what she thinks.

NL: You know, if he doesn’t start recycling its going to make the trash pick up cost more. You need to talk to him! For everyone’s sake. They’re already doing it in Alexandria. 

Me: Oh really? I’ll tell him that.

Part of me is shamefully, secretly, enjoying her presumption that I have power over Chris – a presumption based in a recognition of my legitimacy as his long-term girlfriend. She’s gone from inviting Chris to the singles group at her church, to assuming I’m the kind of woman who is in charge of her man. I have this urge to go with it, to let us be those suburban women who stand on the sidewalks of their subdivisions, possibly with a glass of wine in the early evening, talking about “our men” and how hard it is to keep them in line.

.

Worst. Teammate. Ever.

.

NL: You know he has daughters? Who are educated!

Her tone implies this could be new information for me. I hate her again. I start to walk away.

Me: yes, he certainly does.

NL: They are going to college. They understand…

Me: yes, they do go to college…

Now I’m laughing. I’m suddenly giddy with how ridiculous this conversation is, how much material she’s feeding me. I want to ask her again about going through the garbage, but instead I keep walking.

NL: Tell him to recycle for them! So they are proud…

Unmoved by the argument, I keep moving, not looking back at her.

NL: They’ll get married some day! I assume. They are going to have babies. And those babies are going to want a grandpa who recycles!

This makes me stop, and I look at her for a second, tempted to tell her that of all her arguments, that’s her worst. There are few topics more likely to agitate Chris than talking about him becoming a grandpa, and all that that implies.

I try to stop laughing long enough to give some sort of appropriate response. But then decide that laughing is probably as appropriate a response as any.

She’s yelling things after me as I walk away, things about how she teaches recycling in the schools and can teach him. I offer a vague wave of my hand as I continue walking away, trying not to skip in my excitement to tell this story to Chris.

.

Of course, I’m sure you all now realize that as long as Chris lives there, he can never, ever, start recycling.

Sorry Earth, but seriously, what did you expect?  I’m a terrible teammate.

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Ambien Conversations March 6, 2012

credit to toothpastefordinner.com

Last night, Chris took his Ambien, but then failed to fall asleep for almost an hour. Here are some of the things we talked about.

Me: Why aren’t you asleep yet?

Ambien Chris: I probably am. Everything’s all sparkly.

****

AC: (snuggling up against me) You’re just radiating heat!

Me: What else is new?

Several seconds of silence

AC: Well, I don’t know what else is new.

Me: (laughs softly).

At least a minute of silence passes.

AC: Did you wear your new jeans today?

Me: Yes…(not sure where this is going)

AC: well then there! That’s what else was new today! (pride in his voice for figuring it out)

Me: (trying really hard not to laugh) Yes, that’s true.

AC: and probably your new shirts too. (I can feel him smiling against my shoulder at his own cleverness)

Me: no, those are for Spring.

AC: well then that’s what will be new on Thursday because its supposed to be 70 degrees then.

****

AC: So, you finished the Quarter Quell huh? (out of the blue reference to the Hunger Games Trilogy which I’m currently reading and he read a few months ago.)

Me: yep (I’m trying not to encourage conversation in the hope that he’ll fall asleep)

AC: Everyone’s run away and are headed to (*BLEEP*edited to avoid spoiling the end for anyone who hasn’t read it.)

Me: yep.

AC: So know you know they were right about (*BLEEP*)

Me: yep.

AC: and now they’re all living in the (*BLEEP*)

Me: (before I can stop myself) No, they’re still in the hover craft

AC: the hover craft? Then how can you know about (*BLEEP*)?

Me: I’m only on the second page of the final book.

AC: Then why do you keep yepping me?

Me: Because I want you to go to sleep.

several seconds of silence

AC: fair point.

*****

AC: so that Speakeasy thing is on Saturday, right?

Me: yep.

AC: where is it?

Me: Dance Place

AC: is that near anything?

Me: not really. (I’m tempted to bring up my thoughts about going into the city early and going to some museums as he’s been wanting to do, but then remind myself I’m talking to Ambien Chris, not Real Chris.)

AC: is there a dance party this time?

Me: Nope. That was just for my show

AC: We could have one anyway. We just need an iPhone and a Pandora station

Me: yep.

AC: And then we just need a cord and we can run it to a speaker and then we’re all set.

Me: great idea. We’ll have our own dance party after the show.

AC: ok.

****

After an hour of these conversations alternating between me rubbing his head and back hoping to put him to sleep, we go about ten minutes without him moving or speaking and I decide he must finally be asleep. I roll away from him onto my left side so I can fall asleep.

As soon as I’m settled I feel him sit up.

AC: Giving up already?

Me: Yep.

 

This Side of Normal February 8, 2012

You know what’s normal? Having a romantic relationship last a year.

You know what’s NOT normal?

This girl.

This is me. Crazy eyes.


See, Chris and I celebrated our one year anniversary this week. And unlike our 6 month anniversary, I was totally calm leading up to this milestone. I wasn’t even a little bit superstitious, afraid of jinxing it, or even particularly emotional.

See how much progress I’m making?

Yeah, don’t get too excited…

Our anniversary technically fell on a Sunday, which I think we can all agree is the least romantic day of the week, plus I was going to be gone at rehearsal for the show I’m co-directing from 1:30-5:30, so I suggested we deputize Saturday for purposes of celebration. But we didn’t really plan anything specific because it came at the end of a long and stressful week for Chris and so the most appealing option for both of us was just having a quiet weekend together.

Saturday morning we decided we’d take a trip to a brand new gluten free bakery for treats, and as we were leaving the bakery we decided to stop in at a coffee shop, sample our GF confections and do some people watching. It was perfect.

But as we walked back to the car through cold rain we started to rethink our plan of dinner in Old Town, and opted instead for Cheesecake Factory where we had our second date.

Traffic was terrible and it was a stressful drive. We waited for more than an hour to be seated, and…well, all I’m going to say about the actual dining experience was that Cheesecake Factor hates people with gluten allergies.

But returning home to the leftover GF chocolate chip cookie lifted the mood considerably.

Sunday morning we made breakfast together and slow danced in the kitchen to “If It’s Love” by Train while the sausage was browning.

And then I used the sausage to make a frittata. Which I may or may not have burned. (But the burned part stuck to the pan and the part you could actually scoop out was delicious, thank you very much).

Chris made dinner while I was at rehearsal, and we had a relaxed and intimate evening where we ate, watched most of the Super Bowl and ate our dessert of strawberries with cheesecake and whip cream in bed before exchanging sappy cards and going to sleep early, our stomachs bursting from the cheesecake and whip cream. (Ok, the truth is, I was the only one bursting from the whip cream. I kept overfilling my mouth when I sprayed it in).

It was a really, really, great weekend.

And yet…

That night as I tried to fall asleep, some weird thoughts started poking my brain.

Things like:

It WAS a great weekend. I love the fact that an afternoon spent in a coffee shop feels special when I do it with Chris.

And while things didn’t go perfectly (bad traffic, bad dinner, burnt Frittata etc.) it didn’t matter, and that is something special. I like that we’re past a point where I need to pretend his driving doesn’t stress me out, and we hardly notice a burnt frittata.

BUT at the same time, it could have been any weekend. Does that mean something?

I mean, there really wasn’t any sparkle in the weekend. You know that little bit of fairy dust that seems to cover all parts of a new relationship, when you go out of your way to surprise and wow each other? That’s sparkle.

At first, I was fine with a sparkle free anniversary weekend, in part because I still find comfortable and familiar to be novel and exciting.

Until I started worrying there would never be sparkle again.

Were we already in a rut? Is that what happens at the one year mark? Because seriously, I have no idea what happens at the one year mark. I’m so far into unfamiliar territory I feel like I should have a passport.

This makes me panicky.

Suddenly I have perfect recall of every episode of shows like According to Jim, ‘Till Death, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Shows where wives are always nagging their husbands to be romantic and the husbands are forever rolling their eyes and reluctantly agreeing while clearly resenting every minute. Shows where the comedy comes from a premise that romance and long term relationships are mutually exclusive.

Is it funny because its true? This is what I’m trying to decide at 2am.

I’m scared that, by no choice or effort of my own I will become one of those sparkle starved nagging women and Chris will become one of those lazy, anti-sparkle guys.

What if that’s as unavoidable a law of nature as the ones that make it so your boobs eventually rest on your belt, reality TV seems disgusting, and driving faster than 30mph always feels excessive?

.

In the light of day I struggled for perspective.

I tried reminding myself of the facts because I like to believe this will help to quiet the crazy.

Fact. I have hit the jackpot with Chris, of this I am sure, and for the last year every day with him has felt above average and full of sparkle, so it was silly to get worked up because a weekend – which just happened to be one year from the day of our first date – had only the same amount of sparkle that every other day had.

Fact. I’m not the type of girl who needs lots of sparkle. I’m low maintenance. I like the steak more than the sizzle.

Fact. A good bra will always keep the girls in place.

This never works to quiet the crazy. I seriously don’t know why I bother.

.

Part of the problem is that I’d been focused on the one year milestone for 364 days.

Every milestone I invented between days 1 and 365 were like a relationship advent calendar meant to break up the days and distract me with treats until the big day.

Getting to the one year mark represented achieving normal. It meant not being the girl whose relationship history consisted of crazy stories and responses like “Where do you keep finding those douchebags?”

I told myself that at one year I’d be able to trust that he wasn’t too good to be true and that I’d have figured out how to do the whole functional relationship thing and I could stop worrying I was going to ruin it by saying the wrong thing.

.

And all of that happened, but it actually happened somewhere around the 10 month mark. At some point I just started to relax, feeling confident I was going to glide over that finish line.

Which I did. And then sailed right past it.

Into…whatever comes after one year.

I had no new goal to focus my anxieties on. No new advent calendar to start to break up the time and distract myself with chocolate.

I felt unmooered.

I felt like I was flying without a net.

.

Which is why the night after our anniversary was spent with me randomly dissolving into tears.

Each time Chris would calmly wipe away a tear or hug me and ask me what was on my mind. And I would say I didn’t know while crying harder, and he would say “Ok, well, whenever you figure it out I’ll be here to listen.”

Which, to be fair, is a conversation we have about once a month. Sometimes the crazy just builds up to the point where tears are the only way to release the pressure. True story.

.

Anyway, in the past it could sometimes take many hours before I could talk to him about whatever had fermented the crazy that time.

But on this night, I thought about the New Year’s Resolution that I was given to use my words more than my tears, and I worked really hard to find words sooner than later.

After only about an hour of off and on again crying, I managed something along the lines of “What about the sparkle?” And somehow Chris understood exactly what I meant, and we were able to have a good talk about feelings. And I have to say, words really are SO much more useful than tears. Who knew?

.

We talked about the appropriate application of sparkle in a relationship that already feels above average.

I agreed to stop pretending I’m low maintenance, and to own the fact that I need a little sparkle now and again.

Chris explained the difference between TV and real life, and how we can decide what kind of couple we are. And also that we’ll always enjoy reality TV together.

I promised to keep working toward being able to have feelings conversations that involved more words than snot.

As I started to feel better I tried to explain a little about my unmoored feeling.

“I’m just not sure what to do on this side of…”

“This side of normal?” Chris asked with a smile.

Yes! Exactly. A relationship that lasts more than a year is normal. Being happy and secure in a mutually rewarding relationship is normal…and that’s where we live now.

.

I’m so screwed.

Anniversary Self Portrait

 

Its Gonna Be a Bright, Bright, Sun-shiney Day September 15, 2011

For the past several months, I haven’t been feeling myself. Maybe as long as a year, but its hard to say really.

A year ago this month I was in a car accident that had me in physical therapy and doctors offices for 6 months, and I was exhausted and cranky all the time because of the pain, and any odd things happening in my body were chalked up to the stress and trauma.

It wasn’t until April that I started noticing issues with my body that didn’t seem associated with the accident, and a new round of doctor’s visits ensued.

The majority of my complaints were anecdotal and subjective:

I’m tired all the time

I cry alot

I have cramps all the time

I’m irritable for no reason

As I mentioned in my birthday post, those symptoms along with a few other specific ones I won’t share here for the sake of my dad and brothers who read this blog, led my doctor to decide I had endometriosis. A scary diagnosis at 35 years old.

No blood work was done, no more investigation than a simple exam occurred, and I was handed a prescription for birth control and sent on my way.

But the pill didn’t help. I was still tired, moody, and having painful cramps all the time. And I was gaining weight at an alarming rate. I looked like someone had stuck an air hose in my butt.

When I went back to ask for a different pill, I was threatened with surgery, or chemical menopause if this new pill didn’t fix me.

Chemical menopause. At 35. For real.

Well, with that kind of incentive, I was determined to have the pill fix me.

And it did, sort of. My mood swings got a little better, my cramps went away, and the weight started to come off…

Mostly because my appetite largely disappeared.

But I was still exhausted all the time. I was still generally grumpy about most things and unmotivated.

My drive that had kept me going to the gym at 5 am the year before was gone, and sometimes it was all I could do to go on a walk with Chris.

I slept a lot, but not particularly well, in part because I was plagued with crazy dreams that had me waking up confused about the separation between reality and dream states.

At work, and when I was trying to write, my brain felt foggy, cloudy, like parts of it had been shut down with out my permission.

But I ignored all of it, because I was tired of doctors, tired of threats of major interventions, and I just wanted to be left alone.

But I spent a lot of time secretly worried.

I worried something was seriously wrong with me.

I worried that Chris was going to get tired of having a slug for a girlfriend.

I worried that I’d never be me again.

Then I decided to give it one more try. I found a new doctor. A holistic doctor.

We talked about my eating habits, and how I am rarely hungry and often remember to eat only when I’m light-headed or cranky, and how I eat soup for lunch every day because it’s the only thing appealing.

He told me I had to eat more, maybe a sandwich, and I made a face. “I don’t like sandwiches lately, I can’t get myself to eat one anymore.”

And he said words that I’ve come to think of as magic. “Maybe you have a gluten allergy and your body is trying to protect you.”

Huh, well that’s an idea. We did some tests for that and some other possibilities but while waiting for the results, I just decided to try a gluten-free diet and see what happened.

What happened was AMAZING.

I literally felt improvement within 24 hours. A little more energy, a little more cheerful.

It’s now been almost 4 days with only one slip on the first day, and HOL-Y CRAP! I’m almost afraid to trust it, but…

I’ve been reborn people!

My energy level has been steadily climbing and today its off the charts. Which for most people would probably be considered a normal energy level, but since I’m starting from such a low bar, this feels super charged.

And my mood! My god, my mood. I’m cheerful! Well, cheerful for me, I’m still don’t seem myself being nice to people on the phone or anything, I mean I haven’t had a brain transplant, but I’m not mopey and resentful at being anywhere other than a bed or couch.

I’m sleeping better. I still had some crazy dreams last night, but when I woke up my heart wasn’t racing, I wasn’t confused about what was real, and I didn’t fear going back to sleep. I actually thought “hmm, that was a weird dream,” and fell back to sleep. This has never happened before.

The fog has been blown out of my brain. I can apply problem solving skills, and abstract thinking and deductive reasoning to problems again. That was the hardest symptom of my unraveling that was hardest to explain or quantify. But now its back! I have my brain back!And the energy to use it.

I can’t help but think that part of the improvement is the result of shifting from feeling like a helpless victim of my body’s whims and malfunctions to feeling hopeful and back in control, but whatever. Who cares, because I’m back baby. I’m back!

.

And if you haven’t been keeping track, almost all of these symptoms are the same ones used to make my diagnosis of endometriosis. My new doctor has ordered extensive blood work to make sure there isn’t anything else going on that contributed to the symptoms or the sudden development of the allergy, but so far even money is on it just being a gluten allergy.

Chemical menopause indeed.

.

One of the more interesting changes I’m starting to observe though, is a type of emotional re-engagement with my friends. For the last few months any emotional energy I had went to Chris and worrying about what was wrong with me, and there wasn’t much left over for other people. I’d listen to their troubles, their drama, their challenges as if from a distance. I kept quiet when I might otherwise have intervened, or if I offered advice, I drop it quickly if I felt resistance where before I would have pushed through.

But now…the fire to tell other people how to live their lives is back. I’m once again freely and passionately offering opinions and advice on things that I may or may not know anything about.

I know right? I’m sooooo BACK!

And today specifically I find myself getting reacquainted with my traditionally fierce desire to cause harm to people who hurt my friends.

I can’t get this image out of my mind of going out and rounding up all the men who’ve hurt my friends in the past year while I’ve been “away” and forcing them with cattle prods into extended rituals of public ridicule, humiliation and penance.

The phrase “feminist jihad” may or may not be running on a loop in my head. (And the political scientist in me can’t help mentioning that I know that jihad technically refers to a religiously motivated attack, but I argue that feminism IS a religion…)

I’ve got a few logistics to work out yet on that, but that’s OK, because I have nothing but energy and mental acuity to burn right now.

I think shit’s about to get real y’all…

 

Timing is Everything September 7, 2011

I have two things I wanted to blog about, but neither one is really long enough or interesting enough to be their own blog. I feel like if you are going to take the time to click the link, or type the address into your browser, or open your google reader, it should be for something that in quantity at least, if not quality, makes the effort worth it. Because I’m always thinking about you. I’m a giver like that. And then I realized they are both about timing (in a way), so I’m doing two blogs in one 🙂 You’re welcome.

—-

1. Chris’s neighbor hasn’t been seen or heard from in a while and I’d almost forgotten about our rivalry. Then last weekend, on Saturday morning as Chris and I headed out to get our Hurricane Irene storm supplies: Kettle Corn, hard lemonade, and pastries for breakfast, we came around the corner from his front door to find his neighbor and her rarely seen husband  standing on the sidewalk in front of their town house.

She had her hair in a messy ponytail and was wearing only a bathrobe and an “Oh shit” look on her face as she saw us come around the corner.

I felt a flash of pity for her. I’ve been in her position: You finally run into the guy you’ve been crushing on and fantasizing about in your darkest loneliest moments and you look like crap and/or you’re doing something stupid.

.

That may, or may not, be the summation of my romantic life from ages 18-24.

Moving on.

My flash of pity is quickly erased by the realization that  I’ve totally won this round! I’m dressed, and while my hair is wet, that’s actually when it looks the best right now and Chris is… well Chris is his normal delicious self.  As we get closer, she clutches her bathrobe at the neck and starts to stammer about the squirrel that has fallen out of the tree and is presumably dead on the other side of the sidewalk, while pointing to her husband who is so absorbed in studying this baby squirrel he barely acknowledges us as we walk by. She’s talking too fast and we don’t understand everything she’s saying, so we smile and nod and make “too bad” noises about the squirrel as we move toward the parking lot.

Once inside the car we talk about how awkward that must have been for her. “Poor girl, that probably ruined her morning,” I say, possibly with a huge grin on my face.

The next day, Sunday afternoon, Chris and I are returning home and she’s standing in front of her house with another neighbor talking about how they weathered the storm. She is dressed in a tight t-shirt and shorts with her hair and makeup done. As Chris and I walk past, she breaks from her conversation to excitedly and somewhat awkwardly call out to us to let us know that the squirrel has been removed and put into a box, or something…again, she was talking a little too fast for me to fully process what she was saying. Plus I was still thinking about how I was winning. When Chris and I nod and smile without actually saying anything she playfully (desperately?) calls out “Hey, you can have the box if YOU want to take care of it!” just as we are rounding the corner toward his front door. Chris rewards her with a polite laugh and says “No thanks!” I smile at her in a mostly friendly, only slightly superior way, before taking Chris’s outstretched hand as we walk up the steps to his door.

————

2. Speaking of Chris, as I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m in uncharted territory with this long-term, functional relationship thing I’m doing. And I really want to make sure I’m doing it right.

I’ve heard women in long-term relationships sit around talking about their boyfriends/husbands, and they all seem to speak in a type of shorthand with the same complaints, the same stresses, the same rules and expectations for their men, which their men consistently violate.  And this feeds my theory that there is a formula, some set of Standard Operating Procedures for people in relationships.  Have I missed a memo, possibly titled “Things to Get Upset About”? How do I even get on the mailing list? Is it automatic after a certain point? And if so, when is that point???

I have So. Many. Questions. But no answers because every time I ask one of these people they deny any such memo or manual exists. So I’ve been reduced to obsessively studying the behaviors of people who have been in relationships longer than I have in an attempt to learn their secrets and understand the SOP, but it usually only confuses me more.

Like the other day, we had a minor earthquake in the afternoon, and the boss decided the best thing to do was to close the office early and retreat to the bar across the street.  So I’m sitting at the bar with my co-workers, 2 hours before we would have left the office on a normal day, and my one male co-worker says to the other male co-worker, “If my wife knew where I was I’d be in so much trouble!” and the other says “oh I know! My wife can never find out about this,” and then they both laughed clearly sharing in a male bonding ritual of some kind.

I spent most of the rest of that afternoon  trying to figure out what problem their wives could have with this situation, but couldn’t come up with a single reasonable scenario. Which then triggers my anxiety that I lack the natural knowledge or ability to do the girlfriend thing. AND what if I’m also depriving Chris of being able to have this type of bonding moment with his male counterparts?

Then, a few days later Chris and I were watching Pawn Stars, a reality show about a pawn shop, and I commented on how often men go in to sell something that they loved/collected/just liked having, because their girlfriends/fiances/wives told them they had to get rid of it.

After Chris agreed it was a solid pattern of this show, I started to panic and asked “How am I going to know when its time for me to start doing that? How will I know when I’m supposed to start making you get rid of stuff you like and making you feel bad for having fun?”

And Chris, proving yet again that he’s always got my back said, “I’ll let you know.”

Phew. Finally, a plan.

 

Just Dance August 26, 2011

I went to the gym this morning, but I wasn’t really into it.  I’ve got some health issues that are making it kinda painful and crappy and not any fun at all to work out… BUT, I’m getting those issues sorted out, and in the meantime, I’m still going to the gym (usually) because it’s better than not going, even if I can’t do much, so I’m establishing a pattern for when I’m better.

After I’d finished my cardio I was stretching on the floor and getting increasingly grumpy over the ways in which my “workout”  has come resemble the physical therapy routine for a post hip surgery octogenarian.

I stand up to do some calve stretches, and that song comes on my iPod. You know the one, everyone has one. The one song that just makes every cell in your body cry out to dance.  I’ve listened to this song during every workout for the past month while on the treadmill or the elliptical and I always imagine myself dancing around an empty room singing with heart.  Which really doesn’t take much imagination because I was introduced to this song by a 6-year-old during a kitchen dance party.

The song is Loser Like Me, Glee version. Don’t you judge me. Not until you’ve put it on at top volume and seen what it can do for you.

Anyway.

So I’m standing at the back of the empty gym in my office building. I’m not stranger to making a fool of myself in this space. I feel my hips moving as the song worms through my ears to take over my brain. I’m about 90% sure that old guy who just lifts weights for an hour every morning is still in the locker room but… my hips are moving a little more. My arms are now in rhythm to my hips.

My head might be bobbing a bit.

I immediately feel my mood start to improve.  I realize that from my vantage point I can see if someone comes in the door or out of the locker room.

So I let go a little more.

There’s some swaying.

A little more bobbing.

Maybe a butt wiggle and chest thrust or two.

I might have hit the backward button on my iPod at some point so the song would start again.

I’m smiling. I’m realizing how long its been since I danced for no reason.

My confidence that I won’t be discovered is increasing, and my dancing starts to get a little freer.

Which is when I see that old guy – that I knew was in the locker room – come out.

I quickly stop dancing and after a second’s hesitation, throw a leg up on a bench in an attempt to try to make it look like he has simply caught me –  awkwardly and somewhat spastically- transitioning from one stretch to another.

I’m pretty sure he bought it.

But he’s kinda ruined my groove.

So I hit back on my iPod again, telling myself, as one might a toddler, “This is the LAST TIME.”

I’m 99% sure there’s no one left in either locker room, and I have a good view of the door.

I resume dancing and feel my mood kick up a notch.

There might be some singing happening, but there is definitely some serious, if still slightly reserved, dancing happening in the back corner of this gym.

I find myself wishing this could be my workout every morning, and I know that as soon as I’m able, there is a Zumba class in my future.

The song ends, and I obey my direction that this was the last time, and pick up my water bottle, put the mat away and head into the locker room.

Which is when I realize.

The locker room is the perfect place for a solo dance party: back where the showers are I’d have plenty of warning if someone came in. But no one ever comes in at this time of morning. My smile is wide as I scroll through my Power Workout playlist. I decide that my Glee friends will be how I close.

I decide to open with Switch by Will Smith (Seriously, stop it with the judging) as I undress and step into the tiny shower stall. While shampooing and conditioning my hair I shake my money-maker to The Time (Dirty Bit) Workout Remix by the Black Eyed Peas, and I get dressed to Kanye West’s Stronger (Workout Remix), and right after I put my shoes on my jam comes on.

And its on. Right there in the locker room of my office gym. I hit my full on, club worthy groove as I sing, at full volume, the chorus:

Just go ahead and hate on me and run your mouth
So everyone can hear
Hit me with the worst you got and knock me down
Baby, I don’t care
Keep it up, and soon enough you’ll figure out
You wanna be
You wanna be
A loser like me
A loser like me

I face myself in the mirror as Finn’s voice takes over from Rachel, and even though I’ve never been bullied or made to feel like loser by anyone other than myself, I feel vindicated as I sing, and vaguely act out the lyrics as I dance:

Push me up against the locker
And hey, all I do is shake it off
I’ll get you back when I’m your boss
I’m not thinkin’ ’bout you haters
‘Cause hey, I could be a superstar
I’ll see you when you wash my car

I wonder if my voice might carry through the vents of the building as I sing out the lyrics with gusto. But then I decide that I don’t care, because much like when I’m singing at top volume in the car, my voice is amazing. I’m starting to think I could actually be ON Glee.

The song ends and I resist the urge to play it again, knowing I’m on the verge of burning this song and I don’t have a replacement yet. And probably won’t until my next kitchen dance party with a 6-year-old with great musical taste.

But I think going to the gym before work just got a lot more fun.

 

As Seen on TV…Inside My Head August 17, 2011

It’s been 6 months.

This is an official milestone.

I mean, we’ve had lots of smaller (sometimes made up) milestones like:

  • 1 month
  • 5 weeks
  • first time he met the friends
  • first time I met his daughters
  • first blog post about him
  • first melt down (by me, obviously)
  • first weeknight sleep over
  • first time eating Chipotle together…

I could go on and on. Mostly because I like milestones, I find them reassuring, and so tend to see them in everything.

But 6 months? That’s a for real one. That’s a milestone that everyone recognizes… From what I’ve heard. Because I don’t really know, this is the first time I’ve ever been in a relationship that’s lasted this long.

From what I can gather, it appears that 6 months is basically when shit starts to get real:

  • The fighting starts
  • You start to realize which weird/annoying/odd personality quirks or personal habits occur occasionally and which ones that occur all the time, and you have to decide what you can live with.
  • Any commitment phobias previously hidden will now show themselves.
  • Friends, family, casual Facebook acquaintances, and family members of friends will start asking awkward questions like “When are you moving in together?” or “Does he want kids?” “Do you think he’s the one?” Usually with your partner standing next to you, or on your wall with your partner tagged.
  • Sleep becomes prioritized over sex
  • He stops trying to impress you and romantic gestures get relegated only to birthdays, an annual anniversaries. If he even remembers those.

Yeah… So I’ve been freaking out a little bit.

Technically the 6 month mark was almost 2 weeks ago.

But I’ve waited until now to write this blog for 2 reasons. (Have I ever mentioned that when I’m anxious about something I make lists? Cause I do that.)

1. Even as I was freaking out about how apparently everything becomes different after 6 months, I was still excited to reach this milestone because I’m still really happy to be in this relationship. Which was why I couldn’t write this blog post.

When I’m really happy about something, or get something I’ve always wanted, I immediately start to worry about jinxing it. And writing a blog telling The Universe and all my friends and family how happy I am, is clearly a gigantic jinx.

My problem is that I have a writer’s brain.

See, all of the most moving and memorable story lines pivot on the moment when a character gets everything she’s always wanted, and its then either immediately threatened, complicated, or totally lost moments later. Think about it: Titanic. Dear John. Steal Magnolias. Twilight. I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Right when everything is perfect, and I’m really happy, I think “if this were a movie or book, this is when the plane would crash, or he’d turn out to be Dexter, or I’d be held hostage by one of my crazy ex-boyfriends and forced to make Chris think I’ve abandoned him…”

Its possible that sometimes, in some parts of my brain, that I sort of… lose track of what’s real and what’s a script for a Lifetime movie writing itself in my head.

It happens.

The good news is that, as I have more and more experience with being happy and getting what I want in life, and not having anything bad happen, my ability to tell the difference between real and made-for-TV gets stronger. Which is the good news.

But the other reason why I waited to write this blog post is that:

2. I’m not really very good, or comfortable with overt expression of sappy or emotional sentiments. And I know that some of my Facebook friends are crying “Foul!” right now, because Chris and I been accused of being totally sappy on Facebook on occasion. But here’s what I say to that:

On Facebook I just report what’s happening. I post a picture of us at the beach and I say “Me and Chris at the beach.” Or I say “Had a great weekend with Chris, he made me a great dinner.” Those statements are not sappy, they are fact. The people viewing the pictures and commenting are the ones who, in layering their own sappy sentimentality onto my posts, declare me to be sappy. Which is why the ones most likely to accuse me of crimes of sappyness, are my most sappy friends. (Cough *Susan*, Cough *Pam*).

HOWEVER, I will concede that since for most of my life I’ve been a cynic and a commitment-phobe, that my willingness to put a picture of us grinning like idiots on my Facebook wall probably could qualify as sappy for me.

(As an aside: I would like to take this moment to ask that, should the day ever come when I refer to Chris in a status update as “My honey”, “My sweetie” “My baby”, or anything similarly gag inducing, that someone immediately come over and slap me. Seriously. Or call the police because I’ve clearly been taken hostage and that’s my secret code to signal for help.)

.

But here’s the good news about waiting to write this post: I’ve now seen the other side of that 6 month divide, and can see how it matches up to my research.

1. No fighting.

But I can see why fighting could be a thing at this point. I mean, the increased comfort level and sense of security would unsurprisingly lead to a lower likelihood of hiding cranky moods or swallowing small annoyances.

But I’ve also started to realize that it’s an easy mistake to use that increased comfort and security as an excuse to make your partner a receptacle of all your personal ills, irritants and annoyances, unrelated to him or her. And I sure don’t want to be that for him, and I’m positive he doesn’t want to be that for me. And in realizing that, I also suddenly understood something my mom said about the secret to a good relationship: “Be kind to each other.”

Its sort of brilliant in its simplicity I realize now. If, at the core of everything you do, this is your intention, to be kind to each other, everything else should fall into place, don’t you think?

2. No annoying habits to report (on my end. I guess I can’t speak for him…)

3. No evidence of commitment phobias from either of us. (so far)

4. No majorly embarrassing relationship status questions have been asked in front of him. (Yet. But I probably just jinxed myself).

5. I’m not going to comment on the sleep vs sex issue because my dad and brothers read this. You’re welcome Daddy.

6. The romance is still alive and well (so far). Aside from the surprise flowers, awesome card and dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date on our anniversary, we still have date nights, and he still puts effort into planning them. I still get a little tingle of excitement before he picks me up, or sometimes just when I glance over and see his profile next to me at the movies. Plus, we’re still discovering things about each other and we still have many milestones to pass. And as the saying goes: “where there’s a milestone, there’s romance.”

Or is that just what we say around the writer’s table in my head?

.

At any rate, the bottom line is that its shockingly easy to be in a relationship with Chris. As I tell him often, he makes functional easy.

The TV people in my head occasionally remind me that functional is also often boring, but so far I think this story is still moving. BUT if it ever does get boring, I’m confident that my crazy will happily kick in and throw some twists into the plot line. Whether I want it or not.

.

So, thanks for a wonderful 6 months sweetie. I’m looking forward to what comes next!

P.S. (No one gets to slap me for using “sweetie” here. That was a direction limited specifically to Facebook status updates. Plus, if I’m being held at gunpoint obviously I’ll be signalling for help via Facebook, not my blog. Like any normal person.)

6 month anniversary dinner at restaurant where we had our first date.

 

 
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