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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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

 

Another Date Fail, By Me October 18, 2011

Remember way back when I first started dating Chris, and I wrote that blog post about my first attempt at planning a date night, and I took us to the wrong theater?

Well my date planning skills haven’t gotten much better since then.

Back in April, barely 3 months after we started dating, a Living Social deal came up for a wine tasting and food pairing course at a vineyard I hadn’t heard of yet.

Which basically means it wasn’t called Boons Farm.

It was a really good deal, and I jumped on it, thinking it would make a nice date for me and Chris at some point.

Which sounds like a simple thing, but for me, at that time, was kind of a big thing. It meant that, at barely three months into this
relationship, I was willing to put down my hard earned money on a “future activity”. And not just any activity, but an activity that a majority of men would begrudgingly endure at best.

I was betting that Chris, despite not being a big wine enthusiast, was the kind of guy who was up to try new things, to learn new things, and at a minimum, graciously choose to enjoy something that I wanted to do.

But I’d been wrong before, which is what made it a leap of faith for me.

As I clicked the big “Buy Now” button I had images of us walking hand in hand through rolling hills of grape vines, sitting at a quaint
table for two on either a sun drenched patio, or rustically decorated tasting room, sipping wine the color of spun gold, while we mmmed, and ooohhed, and uh huh’d our way through a lesson about food and wine pairings, learning things we’d probably never remember from a gentile and mannered vintner.

So you know, a pretty low stakes venture.

.

About two weeks ago, I realized that the Living Social deal was about to expire so we decided we’d go this past Sunday, the last day the deal was valid.

I looked up the website of the vineyard several times, and sent Chris the link at least once, and by all accounts it looked and sounded lovely. It had the normal pictures of rolling hills and climbing grape vines, it was barely an hour away, and generally seemed not all that different from the handful of other vineyards I’d visited on various outings with girlfriends over the years.

So, Sunday morning, thinking it might be busy on the last day of the deal, we got up kinda early (before 10am) ate a light breakfast and headed out west toward wine country. It was a beautiful day for a drive and in about 40 minutes we were at the exit. We saw signs for three vineyards, none of them being the vineyard we were going to.I was ignoring this fact, until Chris pointed that that seemed odd.

“They’ve only been open about six months,” I said, still confident in Living Social and in the vineyard’s website. However, as we veered
off the main road and turned in the opposite direction of all the other vineyard signs I started to get a little nervous.

The GPS kept guiding us further and further into the backwoods of Virginia, and I tried to distract us by saying things like “Well it sure
is beautiful!” and “Its a real adventure!” in a super cheerful voice.

When Chris announced “We’ve run out of paved road and we’re now on gravel,” I faltered a little, and finally voiced the thought that
had been plaguing me for the last 3 or 4 miles: “I hope they haven’t closed down already.” Chris didn’t really comment, I think because he was so focused on navigating this bumpy, gravely road that twisted and turned through the woods.

Then suddenly we were back on paved road, and we came around a corner and saw a huge red, white and blue OPEN flag.

“Well that’s a good sign,” I said, my eyes scanning the landscape for a vineyard as we came out of the woods into a clearing.

“3600. This is it.” Chris said as he slowed in front of a small house near the road side.

“No, it can’t…” I started to say, and then I saw the canvas sign hanging over the dark sloping porch. It looked like the type of
house we’d drive by and say “that would be cute with a lot of work.”

I swear to god, I suddenly heard dueling banjos playing and saw toothless yokels offering “wine” out of mason jars.

“I’M NOT GOING IN THERE!” I cried out before I could think about it, and Chris immediately pressed the accelerator as he started
laughing.

Once the building was behind us, I wondered if I’d over reacted. “Well, maybe its not that bad on the inside, maybe we should still
go…”

“Honey, they have port-a-potties,” Chris pointed out as we did a U-turn and were again facing the ramshackle building and barren field
full of saplings that they had the nerve to call a vineyard.

“Oh my god, you’re right. Let’s go find one of those other vineyards we passed on our way out here.”

But first we stopped to take some pictures:

Its that little white building...Notice the lack of any grape vines...

I made Chris stop when we were in front of it so I could try to get a picture of that totally uninviting front porch, but we didn’t want to stay too long for fear of some greasy haired, suspender wearing guy running out and saying “Come on in y’all!” So this was the best I could do:

Notice how everything is bright and sunny, except the front porch...

As we made our way back down the gravel road and across the railroad tracks, I thought of what this Living Social coupon had meant when I’d bought it, and I had a sudden fear that this was a bad omen for the future of our relationship. But before I could get worked up about it (because I can get worked up about just about anything, no matter how ridiculous. Its like a special talent I have.) I turned my attention to salvaging the day.

Once we found our way back to the main road, we found our way to Three Fox Vineyard within a few minutes. It was one of the vineyard signs we’d turned away from on our way to the junkyard vineyard.

As we pulled into the driveway I immediately knew this was going to be much better.

This is also a picture of a small white building in the distance, and yet this has a completely different feel to it...

We walked up the path to a beautiful patio with benches and small tables, overlooking sweeping lawns dotted with benches, picnic tables and hammocks.

We walked around back and saw an outdoor tasting tent set up, more tables and chairs in the sun, a shaded patio with more tables and entrance to the building.

We both had to pee though, so our first mission was to find the bathrooms. We followed sign around the side of the building and found this:

apparently it was my destiny to use a port-a-pottie today...

BUT, they were, without question the nicest port-a-potties I’ve ever used.

They were clearly trying to disguise the fact that they were using portable bathroom facilities...

I totally give them points for their effort and intention. There were two oder control devices in there, and a sink that worked with a foot pedal. So I forgave them the lack of indoor plumbing and even used it twice, in violation of my general “only in an absolute fucking emergency and maybe not even then ” policy regarding port-a-potties.

Having availed ourselves of the facilities, we ventured inside and were immediately invited to a tasting, where we sampled several very good wines – I didn’t even hate all of the reds, and I pretty much always hate the reds.

And Chris and I hmmmed, and ahh ha’d a the tasting notes, even though we didn’t really understand or care about most of them.

After we’d sampled 6 or 7 wines Chris suggested we take a walk around the grounds to which I enthusiastically replied “I’m drunk!” as I stumbled into him and tried to sloppily kiss him in the middle of the tasting room.

“How are you drunk, that wasn’t even a full glass!”

Sometimes its like he doesn’t even know me at all…

After reminding him of my doctor confirmed missing liver enzyme that makes me a really cheap date, I suggested that buying some sausage and cheese and sitting the sun for a little while before our walk might be wise. Especially considering I could barely walk.

As we were waiting to pay for our snacks, my wine soaked brain remembered that this was supposed to be a day that I planned and that I paid for, for a change.

“Can I payeee for thish stufffff?” I asked

He looked at me like I’d grown a second head. I sighed heavily and tried to explain my request, but he rolled his eyes, kissed my forehead and turned his attention to looking for someone to ring us up.

I reminded myself again to never try to plan a date that’s any more complicated than suggesting our favorite restaurant for dinner.

Once outside in the sun, I started to really relax for the first time that day. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was perfect. We ate the sausage and cheese and people watched and entertained ourselves by inventing back stories for everyone as the vineyard steadily filled up.

this is taken for my mom who had called just as we were pulling into the vineyard and asked "isn't it early to be drinking wine?" 🙂

After we’d eaten, and I’d sobered up, we strolled leisurely around the grounds hand in hand, pausing for the occasional picture.

Now this is what a vineyard is supposed to look like!

We stopped to pick some grapes left over from the harvest.

So despite how the day started, it ended up being exactly what I’d envisioned. Mostly because Chris, above all else, is the type of guy who doesn’t hold me responsible for mistaking a bunch of stock photos on a website for reality.

Its not a "Mer and Chris" outing if it doesn't include a self-portrait

 

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.

 

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.)

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

The End of an Era June 28, 2011

I started this blog a little over a year ago, because a super weird UPS delivery guy came into my office, instead of the normal hot delivery guy, and made me realize that maybe a desk job didn’t mean nothing interesting would ever happen to me again.

After that revelation I started posting follow ups on my interactions with the hot UPS delivery guy on my Facebook page, and quickly found myself building a story arc in which I played the character of a slightly delusional woman who believed she was in a relationship with the UPS guy.

It was creative entertainment for me and made UPS deliveries a highlight of my day (and when    there are no windows and limited human interaction in your day, this is legitimate.    Don’t judge me. )

I never made anything up, instead I chose to interpret elements of our interactions in a way that advanced the story.

Like:
UPS boyfriend was just here. He asked about my vacation, which I’m assuming means he came in while I was gone and asked where I was. Then he told me he still has 2 weeks of vacation to use before the end of the year. Am I the only one who hears that as an invitation?

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My UPS boyfriend just commented on my red turtleneck. He asked if it was my Christmas turtleneck. I heard “I wish I could spend Christmas with you”…

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Just learned my UPS boyfriend plays the drums. It’s nice how we keep learning more about each other…

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My UPS boyfriend was just here. He said “You stay in here today. You really don’t want to go out there- way too cold.” I love how he’s always got my best interests at heart 🙂

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My UPS boyfriend was just here and told me he’s going to enter the building’s raffle for a black Mercedes. I think it’s because he knows how good I’ll look in the passenger seat.

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My UPS boyfriend was just here. I haven’t seen him for at least a week. While I was signing the pad thingy, he was looking out the door and seemed to be a million miles away. I wanted to tell him that I know reunions can be awkward after an unplanned separation. But then our eyes met as I returned the pad, and I think he got it…
The story took a little twist when I realized he had a wife. But I ran with it:

UPS boyfriend’s eyes were particularly blue today. They were very distracting, but no so distracting that I didn’t hear him mention his wife.  BUT, he was complaining about how she planned a weekend at VA Beach, & he spends his whole day driving, so on a long wknd just wants to stay in & watch DVDs. Clearly his wife doesn’t understand him…. I think I’ve still got a chance…

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My UPS boyfriend delivered (more) boxes of Godiva chocolate which led to a conversation about our favorite candy. Right after I told him I wouldn’t say no to Godiva, he started blathering on about the kind of candy his wife likes. I know he has a wife, just not why he needs to spend our special time talking about her. I thought we had an agreement….good thing he brought a fresh box of chocolates…

But the best part was how much reaction these updates would spark among my Facebook friends.

Like: 

Just walked out into the hall and saw my UPS guy talking and laughing with a girl from another office!
Seaton
that slut!
Jeffrey
WHAT?!? How DARE he?
Mattie
Maybe that’s his cousin. Yeah, his cousin. That’s it! …..

Amy NO!
Tiffany
Girlfriend, he doesn’t deserve you!

Meredith Well i can’t compete with her anyway. Literally – all she’d need to do is sit on me, and I’d be dust 😉
Katie That bastard!

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UPS boyfriend just came in for the first time this year. He said “thought y’all had moved you were gone for so long!” By which I’m pretty sure he meant “I really missed seeing your bright smile during the long dark holidays.”
Joanne, Susan and 2 others like this.
Howard Of course that’s what he meant!
 Susan (co-worker) he missed me too, you know.

 MeredithI forgot to mention that I asked him about that and he said “there are other women in this office? I never noticed.” Sorry.

I’d often run into Facebook friends in real life (it does happen. Seriously.) who had never commented on my “UPS Boyfriend” statuses, but would tell me how much they looked forward to and enjoyed my updates. One friend referred to it as a “living soap opera”. I was thrilled to know that in providing myself entertainment at work, I was simultaneously providing it to other people as well.

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Then I started dating Chris. I posted my first “UPS Boyfriend” update about a month into our relationship, and I immediately had people asking me what I was thinking, if Chris would get mad or feel disrespected, and if I was trying to sabotage what was already looking like the most functional relationship I was ever going to get.

My initial instinct was that he would “get it”, and be fine with it. But my friend’s concerns did give me a moment’s pause. But before I could really think it through he posted an adorably cute and appropriately jealous-but-in-not-in-a-creepy-way comment.

Essentially he jumped into my story and made himself a character.

I know. I’m totally keeping him.

My UPS boyfriend was just here with a package for Susan. But for the first time ever volunteered to bring it back to her office instead of leaving it with me… i might have accidentally told him the wrong office…

SusanAgain, thank you. Thank you, thank you. From the heart of my bottom.
MeredithI’m a giver. It’s just how I am
Dan
LOL!
Chris
I am pretty sure I saw that guy outside kissing 10 other women. My instincts tell me he is no good and you should dump him. 🙂

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My UPS boyfriend was just here with 2 good-sized, but light looking boxes. He asked if he should bring them back into the office for me. I said “are they heavy?” he said “I don’t how strong you are”. I said “I’m pretty strong.” He looked at me for a second then said “Why don’t I just take them where they go?” Um, whatever!

Michael You should have told him you’d challenge him to a boxing match!

 Katie is real boyfriend jealous of UPS boyfriend yet?
MeredithWe have an understanding 🙂
 Tara It sounds like he just wanted an excuse to spend more time with you. But, you know, since he’s a boy, he couldn’t just say that.

 Chris I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the memo about our understanding of the UPS guy. Besides, I’m sure I could wear those brown shorts better than him any day. 🙂

 Meredith ‎@Chris – i could have sworn I sent that memo…did you check spam?but I agree you’d wear the shorts better 🙂 And probably let me carry the boxes 🙂

But then something strange started to happen. The UPS guy would come and I’d sign for a package and forget to initiate a conversation so I’d have something to put on Facebook. Or we’d have a classic interaction, full of opportunity for me to read into it and advance the story line, and I’d forget to put it on Facebook.

What was happening?

I tried to rally, to keep the story alive, but aside from my wandering attention, many of my friends – ardent “UPS Boyfriend Fans” –  stopped commenting on the posts I did manage to get up. It seemed they were losing interest in the story as well.

Then a friend told me that even though I said Chris was fine with the whole thing, and even though Chris said he was fine with the whole thing, she was still uncomfortable encouraging me to refer to another “boyfriend” publicly.

It turned out that lots of my Facebook friends were worried I was undermining my relationship by persisting with the UPS Boyfriend gag, and they didn’t want to be a part of that.

Wimps.

But it was clear it was time for this story to wrap up. I started winding it down, while trying to keep some element of tension.

Today, my UPS boyfriend was in the hallway and my boss walked by. He called my boss over and had him sign for the packages in the hallway so he didn’t have to come in. Yesterday, I was away from my desk and he went straight back to Susan‘s desk and dropped the box off, almost like he wanted to see her… I’m not sure I like this trend…
Patrick
Maybe he knows you’ve moved on:)

Chris
Did I forget to mention that I had a little talk with him? Lets just say that we came to an understanding

My UPS boyfriend just brought me flowers! By which I mean, he came in with a box from 1800 Flowers, and handed it to me. It was for someone else in my office, but I can read between the lines. He was saying “I wish these flowers were from me to you, to say I’m sorry for my behavior last week.” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what he was thinking.
Chris
I think I’m going to deliver a special box of whoop ass to this UPS guy for the constant flirting with you! I’ve had just enough of his shenanigans. 🙂
Beth
@ Chris, it’s best not to encourage these delusions of Meredith’s 🙂
Allison
I’d kinda like to see the dazed look on the poor guys face when Chris shows up-but he needs to wear a Federal express uniform to really freak the guy out (while Mer sneaks out the back door LOL)

What I really wanted was some sort of great and final dramatic climax, which in truth it needed anyway – pining for an object of ones affection is only compelling for a limited amount of time, and then something has to HAPPEN. So I started looking for opportunities to misread something he did or be overly dramatic about some element of an interaction. But then suddenly he wasn’t our delivery guy for several weeks, and then he was back, he’d just run in, shove the pad at me, refuse to make eye contact, and leave as fast as possible – giving me nothing to work with.

I started to nurture a very real fear that he had somehow found out about my Facebook posts and was now scared of me, referring to me as “that stalker chic at that company with the weird name” to his UPS buddies at their UPS hangout place.

And then, a few days after my birthday, my UPS Boyfriend brought a delivery AND my ending:

UPS guy was just here. Was staring at the flowers and birthday balloon on my desk while I signed the pad, to the point where he didn’t notice I was done and handing it back for a second. But he didn’t comment. I think he realizes its over…

I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to have some great dramatic scene to end the story with, but I’m not sure I, nor any of my Facebook friends, had the energy for it at this point anyway.

So the UPS Boyfriend story has officially come to an end. But it was a great experiment in creativity, storytelling and social media, which was super fun, and I’ve got my eye out for a new subject for my next “Facebook Soap”.

Except I don’t think I’ll do another romance.  From now on I’ll look to my real object of affection for that storyline.

A murder mystery might be fun…

 

Marking My Territory June 7, 2011

As I’ve mentioned, I’m new to this whole “stable relationship” thing. We just passed the 4 month mark. That’s officially the longest consecutive number of days I’ve ever dated the same guy without any serious meltdowns, breakdowns or hiatuses.

I have no idea what I’m doing.

It’s gotten to the point where its equal parts familiar and effortless and equal parts obsessively wondering “Is it ok/normal/weird to feel this/think this/do this?” But that’s another blog post all together.

Chris (the boyfriend), moved into a townhouse in a little townhouse neighborhood about a month ago. While he was moving in, he met some of his neighbors, specifically his very…we’ll call her “friendly” neighbor – a mother of 3 children under the age of 5 who lives right next door to him. In an early conversation held on the sidewalk between their homes, she let him know that her husband was gone a lot. All day at work, while she was home with the kids, and then most evenings as well. So, she was alone, a lot. Just sitting there, in her house, a meer 10 feet from his house, alone. Just so he knew.

When Chris told me about this conversation, I amusedly pointed out that it sounded like she was hitting on him.

He didn’t disagree, though he wasn’t as amused by the situation as I was. See, I smelled a good story – an episodic story- the kind of thing I live for. And crazy neighbors are epic storytelling gold.

For the next few weeks I’d occasionally ask with amusement if he’d seen his “girlfriend” lately.

I wasn’t at all jealous or threatened that she was vaguely hitting on my boyfriend. Why would I be? I trust him absolutely with no hesitation. Even if she’d been a member of the Swedish Bikini Volleyball team, instead of a middle-aged suburban housewife  still carrying her baby weight, I wouldn’t have been worried.

When almost a month went by without any further interactions, I started to lose interest in her as a story line.

And then one night about a week ago, Chris and I were on the phone as I drove home from something or other and after I’d unloaded about my day he says with evident excitement in his voice “I saw my neighbor tonight!”

“You mean your girlfriend?” I asked pearking up.

“Yes! And its good!” Now, I should explain, his labeling of ‘good’ was a nod to knowing I’d be delighted with an installment of the soap opera I’d hoped would develop in his neighborhood. He, as a reluctant character in the soap, is not, as a rule, amused by the situation at all.

For some background to their conversation, I should mention that it occurred a few days after the Memorial Day weekend, and I’d spent pretty much the entire 3 day weekend at his house with lots of comings and goings.

So that afternoon, Chris arrives home from work and pulls into his parking spot, which is right next to her parking spot, and he sees that she’s sitting in her car while all 3 of her kids sleep in the back. As Chris gets out, she jumps out of her car and comes around to meet him on the sidewalk. What follows is my re-telling of his telling of the conversation. The words are as accurate as memory allows, but some of the color commentary is from my imagination of what the scene looked like.

After exchanging pleasantries she says “So… I saw you with a woman this weekend…?”

Chris’s normal approbation about talking about his private life kicks in and he offers a vague “um, yeah, you probably did.”

“So…. you’re seeing someone then?” she says in a slightly accusing tone.

“Yeah, I am.”

“Really? Because you didn’t mention that you were seeing anyone when you first moved in…”

Chris, at this point, started to feel like he was being accused of something, because he was.

But I’m cackling in glee as he’s retelling this story because its better crazy than I could have hoped for.

Chris says, “Well, I am. Have been for a while.” He starts to move toward his house but she blocks his path. For reals.

“Huh, that’s…interesting… Yeah, I saw you walking with her, holding hands…”

“We were probably going for a walk,” Chris says trying to get around her again.

“Yeah, at first I thought it was your daughter, but then I saw you were holding hands…”

Chris is very uncomfortable now from a combination of being forced to talk about his private life, the fact that feels like he should apologize for an imaginary crime, and the fact that as she tries to stop him from getting away, she’s moving further and further away from her running car holding her three sleeping babies.

“”So…is it serious or…maybe not so much?”

“Yeah, its serious,” Chris says.

“Huh, really? Well….”

Finally she either runs out of things to say, or realizes that Chris isn’t going to apologize/dish about his relationship and so lets him enter his house and returns to her kids.

I’m delighted by this story. I’m focusing on the story worthy crazy in it. I’m now even more convinced that this will turn into a fantastic ongoing saga.

Chris is less amused, and says “I’m going to have to sneak past her house from now on, I don’t want to run into her again.”

I say “NO! You have to run into her again. We have to see where this crazy is going to go!”

I decide that she saw this attractive single dad moving in next door and decided that he was newly single, hence the move, and as such likely sad, overwhelmed and ripe for the picking. I’m positive that in the month since he’d moved in, she’d concocted a whole fantasy about the sexy single dad next door that she would nurture, support and seduce. She never anticipated competition.

It’s not until later, after we’ve gotten off the phone, and the adrenaline rush that I get from encountering real life awesome crazy has worn off that I get this new feeling.

Its unfamiliar, and at first I don’t recognize it. Its subtle, and I wonder if it could be jealousy? I quickly dismiss it because to me, jealousy comes from insecurity or doubt about your partner, which doesn’t apply.

But nonetheless, the next time I talk to Chris, I tell him that we will be spending large portions of the upcoming weekend making out on the sidewalk in front of her living room windows. Just to you know, egg her on. NOT because I feel the need to make a statement of possession or anything.

This past Saturday night Chris picks me up to go out to dinner, and as we’re driving to the restaurant he tells me he had another interaction with the neighbor that afternoon.

“Really?! Tell me!” I’m excited, although I notice it’s not the unadulterated glee I felt when he announced the last story, but whatever.

So that afternoon as Chris left to go for a run, she caught him on the sidewalk.

“Going for a run?” she asked.

“Yep,” Chris replied.

“Where do you run? I love to run. I wish I could do it more, I need to lose the baby weight,” she says with a chuckle. Clearly she’s fishing for a compliment.

“hmmm,” Chris says noncommitally, not taking the bait.

Then she says, “So, do you go to church?” 

Slightly confused and wary, Chris says “um, no, not really.”

“Oh that’s too bad, because my church has a really active singles group that I think you’d enjoy.”

At this point in the story my mouth drops open. I am completely unprepared for this turn of events. Chris laughs not at me, but with me, expressing his own shock at the inappropriateness of her statement.

Finally I find my voice and all I can say is “THAT BITCH! She doesn’t even know me!” I’m a little surprised at how offended I feel and how un-amused I am at the absurdity of the situation, but this is no time for introspection.

Chris says “And then she said ‘I know you’re seeing someone and all, but you know, I just thought you might want to keep your options open.”

I am without words as disbelief and unfamiliar feelings of…something wash over me.

This isn’t funny anymore.

The last thing I need is this woman – this stranger no less – passing judgement on my relationship. Lord knows I have enough doubts about my ability to be as good a girlfriend as he is a boyfriend, the last thing I need is a stranger weighing in, and against me, no less.

I realized that what I was feeling was not jealousy but a primal, lioness-like urge to mark my territory, to make it clear that she has overstepped and it would not be tolerated.

But this isn’t the African desert. I can’t prowl around outside his house roaring and snapping my teeth every time she comes into sight until she lays down in a sign of submission and then slinks away with her tail between her legs.

So I turned to Chris and said, “Well, then I guess we’re having sex on the hood of your car tonight.” Because I didn’t think he’d let me pee on him in front of her living room window.

 

 
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