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What is Love? Baby, Don’t Hurt Me…

I couldn’t help it.

I apologize in advance if this post makes even less sense than last night’s. I fail rather dramatically at putting together coherent paragraphs after days as long as this one. I did have some thoughts tonight during my cocktail shift at my restaurant. We were slow, and I was bored, and in between running food and drinks to my few piddling tables, I had a conversation with a coworker about love, specifically the kind that has longevity. We’re both engaged to be married.

One of the not-so-first things that comes to mind when I think of love is money. Strange, then that money and financial issues are one of the biggest reasons marriages end. Different views on what is a worthwhile use of assets, someone spending too much on the wrong things, not making enough to get by, etc. I can see why. It’s not easy to mesh two people’s finances together, even if you keep them mostly separate. And it’s not a topic most couples find romantic. You can talk to any die-hard romantic about …well, romance…and they might tell you that all you need is love. That love can fix any problem. I disagree. Love can help you forgive a lot of things, but there are many problems that can suck the life out of love, erode it away until all that exists is a fossil of a memory and some jagged edges.

Long lasting love (ooh, alliteration!) involves sacrifice on the part of both parties. It means putting someone else first, or giving up something to gain more. It means thinking of we instead of me (see what I did there?) and putting the needs of others at the top of a priority list. So let’s talk about needs for a minute. I have a strong theory that a relationship cannot succeed if the partners fail to meet each other’s needs the way they need them met. Needs are specific to each person, and they often require different things from each person. Let’s say two people need reassurance. For one, that might mean nothing more than a long huggle and a tender kiss. For another, it might mean hearing affirming words. If you’re someone who needs  a long huggle to feel reassured, affirming words won’t do much for you, and vice versa. It might help a little, but you probably won’t feel completely reassured until the need is met the way you need it to be met.

The tricky part about meeting someone’s needs the way they need them met is that the golden rule really doesn’t apply. You can’t simply do unto your significant other as you would have him or her do unto you, because you might have a different way of having your needs met than they do. Love is being willing to crawl outside your thick skull and into theirs. Love is finding out what those needs of your partner are and how your partner needs you to meet them, then following through even when it’s supremely uncomfortable. Some people have a really hard time expressing themselves verbally. If you’re one of those people and your partner is someone who needs verbal affirmation, it could be potentially catastrophic trying to meet that need. But if you do it, even though it’s hard, your partner will take notice. The danger comes in when one partner says, “I’m just not wired that way. Deal with it.” Especially if that person expects their partner to meet their needs the way they need them met even when they refuse to do the same.

No one ever promised that love would be easy. In fact, if you get promises about love, it’s probably the opposite.

Then again, nothing worth having comes free and easy.

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Life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

Autumn is flirting with September in a dance of revolving heat, rain, humidity, and crisp breezes.  Soon I know autumn will have her way with the world, and I couldn’t be happier.  Flickers of yellow and orange and red begin to appear on trees, and the temperature actually drops at night.  All in all, I’m waiting in anticipation of October.  As it approaches, there are a lot of things on my mind.  Not the least of which is what October brings with her as she arrives.  A year ago, I was waiting.  I knew what I was waiting for, but I had no idea how long my waiting would continue.  This week last year, I began to see a few glimmers of hope, a few warm tingles.  And then as October 1 turned to October 2, after a gleeful two hours of zombie-filled revelry, my waiting ended.  A man I had fallen for over the course of a year and a half invited me into his life, and we started down a road together.

Given the context of emotion this week holds for me, I suppose it’s only natural for me to think about love.  To ponder that thing that drives us so much through this world.  I think the silver screen presents us with many unrealistic views of romance and love.  (<–Understatement.)  Frankly, the few chick flicks (aka rom-coms) I’ve seen lately have been so far away from reality that they’ve left me wanting to repeatedly bang my head against a board.

What is love?  What really makes a relationship work?  If I could answer both of those questions succinctly, I’d probably win the Nobel Prize for Peace.  I’m just sayin’.  Go to any Barnes and Noble and you’ll find sections littered with books trying to explain love and fix relationships in 200-400 pages of easy step-by-step instructions.

Do soulmates exist?  Is there that magical moment where you just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have found the one person who can make you happy?  I might disappoint the world’s movie-going rom-com fanatics by saying this, but no.  I don’t think either of those two things really exist in the way they’re portrayed.  Relationships don’t follow a flow chart of:  meeting –> spark –> blossoming love –> conflict –> happy ending/sunset + horsey + castle.  Relationships are messy.  Why?  Because you’re taking imperfect people and smushing their lives together.  To expect perfection is naive at best.  However, I think the reality of love is more charming and beautiful than simply following a formulaic interpretation of easy happiness.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last two or so years since I met John, it’s that communication cannot receive a higher commendation in the world of love.  And before you can communicate, you need to know and be happy with yourself.  If you’re looking for someone to complete you, you’ll never find that.  But I digress.  I don’t think love happens like in the movies.  Or at least if it does, it’s not even close to being the majority.

I think a lot of the time people get caught up in this idea of the magical moment that will make everything clear, make everything easy.  There’s no quick fix for anything in this life, in love especially.  I still think the guys in Thrice said it right when they said that love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.  Relationships take work–they don’t just work because you want them to.  Sometimes they take sacrifice and selflessness.  Both of which have to go both ways.  While I think that two people can experience an initial click or chemistry, I don’t think that two lives just slip into each other without a ripple.  People have different dreams and ambitions.  To me, the mark of the best relationships is the ability of the couple not to expect their lives to poof into perfection, but the willingness to build something together.  A family.  A home.  A life.  Whatever that may look like.  That’s where the beauty is to me.

That’s what I honestly love about my relationship.  Looking into the future and knowing that each of us will build something together.  That in the two years behind us since we met, we have begun building a foundation.  We’re two adults long since launched from the families that raised us, and in the last year, we have begun a new family.  A small family for now, just the two of us, but with strong ties to the families we came from.  Something to build on together into something that fits us both.

I can’t think of a truer love than that.

The Loved, the Lorn, and the Puffy Chairs

Today I watched a movie.  My boyfriend and I actually started it last night, but we were both sleepy and — let’s face it — a wee bit drunk, so we stopped.  I finished it tonight, and I’m going to attempt to review it here, with some interspersed reflections based on the novel I’m reading by someone in one of my writing groups which has a similar theme.

The movie is called The Puffy Chair. My first assessment?  It was remarkably painful to watch.  First of all, the female lead’s name is Emily, and she proved in the first 15 minutes that she was exactly the kind of girlfriend I don’t want to be.  Next, her boyfriend Josh proved to be the kind of boyfriend I don’t want.  And Rhett, the other main character, proved to be the only redeeming person for me, even though in one particular scene (actually two) I sort of wanted to aim an Uzi at his head.

I think the film had several good qualities.  It portrayed a somewhat believable relationship between an insecure woman who was looking for a commitment and a self-absorbed, passive-aggressive man who really wasn’t.  Neither of them were able to successfully communicate anything without it turning into a snit or an argument, which I’ve seen in many relationships, so that part was believable.  I couldn’t figure out if Emily was just really, really fed up with Josh’s indifference or if she was just really high-maintenance and moody, as one reviewer described her.  Either way, I was ashamed when I saw myself reflected in her at all, which I’ll admit happened a couple of times, and I really never want to turn into what I saw there.

To her defense, Josh was entirely incapable of discussing anything serious with anyone, let alone his girlfriend, who he calls “dude” throughout the entire movie — a not so subtle insight into the depth of his emotion.  When she asks why he loves her, he can’t think of a single reason outside of her sexy bits (literally — he changes the subject by grabbing her hoohah).  Granted, her reaction to his silence is a bit melodramatic, but even so, it shows the dysfunction there.  Later on when his brother Rhett calls him out on a pretty despicable action he took, he again gets defensive and nasty.

All in all, I found it really hard to sympathize with any of the characters.  They were all completely wrapped up in themselves.  They wanted what they wanted when they said they wanted it, and if they didn’t get it, the world ended.  I’d give it a C.  Maybe even a C-.

I don’t really like dwelling on dysfunctional relationships, but I volunteered to read a book penned by a fellow writer in which the protagonist is an adulterer, and I just read the first six chapters of her rationalizing her affair, which depressed me.  Especially after watching that movie.

After watching the movie and reading that book, I got the overwhelming urge to be the best girlfriend ever.  I also reflected on my own relationship and came to the conclusion that I am intensely fortunate to have found someone like John, and that despite the similarities between our names and that movie’s characters’ names, we are so not them.

I am so happy with him that it sometimes makes me bubble right off the ground.  Which is glorious.  So in regards to the title of this blog?  I’m that first one.  I’m not lorn — love, for, or otherwise — and I’m decidedly not a puffy chair.  I’m loved by an extraordinary man.

Take that, cynical world.

we are beggars all.

Today I have been listening to and thinking about this song, the lyrics of which will be interspersed through this post.  The song is called “The Weight,” and it’s by the band Thrice.  My boyfriend brought it up the night he gave me my magic wand, and though I couldn’t think of how it went right then, I had heard it before and was taken in by it.  I honestly think I have never heard a truer expression of what true love is, and I am deeply touched thinking about it.

There’s many who’ll tell you they’ll give you their love,
But when they say “give” they mean “take”.
They hang ‘round just like vultures ’til push comes to shove
And take flight when the earth starts to shake.

Someone may say that they’ll always be true
Then slip out the door ‘fore the dawn,
But I won’t leave you hanging on.

Another may stay ’til they find someone new
Then before you know they’ll be gone,
But I won’t leave you hanging on.

No, I won’t won’t be that someone.

This will likely be a very candid blog — not that I am ever anything else, but you know.  Just a disclaimer.  I have often felt like a beggar.  In many ways, my life has been that of a vagabond or a drifter.  I’ve moved 33 times in 25 years.  I have gotten where I am today because of intensely hard work and because of the help and charity of others.  I use the word charity not to imply a sense of pity, but in the almost spiritual sense of giving out of the need to pass on the blessings one has been given.  More about the act of giving than the perception of need implicit in the receiving end of such a gift.

And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

Some talk of destiny, others of fate,
But soon they’ll be saying goodbye,
But I won’t leave you high and dry.

‘Cause a ring don’t mean nothing if you can’t haul the weight
And some of them won’t even try,
But I won’t leave you high and dry.

I won’t leave you wondering why.

In love as well I have often felt the beggar.  I have often felt myself unworthy of real love — I have been tossed aside often enough that I am supremely unused to having anyone stand by me.  I have always been at the whim of others’ convenience — there when it suited them and cast off when it stopped being convenient for them.  I think because of this, I don’t understand why anyone would want me when I am the mess that I am.

And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

And storms will surely come,
But true love is a choice you must make and you are the one.
That I have set my heart to choose
As long as I live, I swear I’ll see this through.

I spent quite a long time waiting for my current boyfriend.  We knew each other for a year and a half before we started our official relationship, and I won’t pretend that some of that time wasn’t incredibly difficult for me.  I still wrestle with the idea that I’m either not enough or too much or both at the same time.  I think everyone feels that way sometimes, but I have it honed to a fine art.  Which is why I think that this Thrice song is such a resonant depiction for me.  I’m not used to a love like this.  As one of my favorite gods said in one of my favorite books (by David Eddings), “Thou wilt warily give love, but you must also learn to accept it.”  I’ve never known a love like this, but come what may, I will see it through.  In the words of another, newer favorite song, I’ve got nothing left to lose.

Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and I see no end.

Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

In other news, my beloved city of Nashville, Tennessee is under water.  If you haven’t heard about it, the Cumberland and Harpeth rivers that both run through and around Nashville gained about 26+ feet over the weekend, causing catastrophic flooding and billions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses.  I-24 became a raging river, and the water was forceful and deep enough to detach homes from foundations and even sent a modular school building floating down the interstate.

One of my closest friends had to be emergency evacuated from her apartment — she’s very lucky, and it turns out the water only got ankle deep and her car even still works, but thousands of others were not so lucky.  My old boss had to sit and watch from his home as a man was stranded up a tree in his Forest Hills neighborhood — Tom couldn’t get to him as there was fast moving water that was far too dangerous to move through, and I’m told the man was stranded there for at least 20 hours in the pouring rain.  There are thousands of other stories like these.  I’m dismayed and disappointed that the national media is paying only cursory attention to this disaster.  Almost 30 people have died so far, and countless others are without power, clean water, and homes.  If you are at all able, please text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the relief efforts.

I only lived in Nashville for a year, but it is a truly lovely city full of warm and inviting people.  To see loved ones and colleagues entrapped in this disaster and also being nationally ignored is heartbreaking, and I wish I could do more to help.  I don’t get a ton of views on this blog, but hopefully enough people will read this and be moved enough to spare $10.  If enough people do it, it really does make a difference.

Please help.  We are beggars all.

❤  Emmie

dating musicians: forget the bad press

if you couldn’t gather it from that, i am dating — rather, in a relationship with — a musician.  as such, i have a few thoughts, quibbles, feelings, and meanderings about the topic.  a quick google search on dating musicians reveals a helter skelter of articles ranging from op ed postings to eHow  and wikiHow articles (really?).  the common thread?  almost all of them say this:  ZOMG don’t do it u will regret it!!!*!&#(!

ahem.

i’ll be honest.  upon seeing the unbridled negativity in the articles out there, my first thoughts were rather akin to “well, shit.”  then i thought a little more about my own relationship, as well as the relationships of my friends who are also dating musicians and my mom, who did in fact date and marry my dad, who is a musician.

basically, i think musicians in general have a bad reputation and some bad press, and that is not fair.  i’m very positive on musicians — i know a ton of them and i don’t know any who fit the negative stereotypes the way they’re portrayed.

i’ve been with my boyfriend for about seven months now.  when i met him two years ago, he wasn’t involved in a band, though he of course was still a musician.  i suspect that a lot of the anti-musician rigmarole out there on the internet may be mostly in regards to the following formula (a generalization): girl see boy on stage with guitar, girl swoon, flirting, dating, then it implodes.  i could be wrong, but looking at that formula, if that is how most of these articles got started, it doesn’t really surprise me that the relationships don’t work out.  infatuation with someone based on a stage performance is not the same as getting to know someone.  it’d be like falling in love with say, hugh grant in notting hill.  the character is awesome, sweet, etc.; the actor himself is a completely different person.  i’ve met many musicians who are gung-ho crazy on stage, but stand-offish and quiet when you actually talk to them.  on stage, they’re performing…the whole point is to put on a show.

now onto the nitty gritty.  the articles i read accuse musicians of being many things — not the least of these adjectives were the following:  backstabbing, overjealous, cheating, poor, dirty, and flaky.  none of that is particularly flattering.  what got me thinking was how these adjectives were applied to the entire group, as if just by knowing someone was in a band automatically made it okay to assume that they fit these stereotypes.  that’s not particularly fair — it’s not considered okay to stereotype or profile people based on ethnicity, so why is it okay to do it by profession?

one of the articles went as far as to say that if you date a musician, you’ll end up lonely, cheated on, and broke.   they talk about “perks” as if that’s the reason you should date someone — based on what you can get from their job.  all that confuses me.

don’t get me wrong — there are definitely obstacles and challenges that come with dating someone in the music business.  i’ll be candid.  i’m a night owl, and i think that helps.  my boyfriend works evenings, and he is pretty much on a nocturnal schedule.  that’s pretty normal for a lot of the musicians i know — i don’t know many early birds in the business.  in the articles i read, they talked about that, specifically that shows aren’t always on weekends, and that they will often go till 1 or later including packing up gear and everything.  and if you’re in a relationship with someone in a band, you’ll probably go to the shows.  which isn’t always easy if you work a day job (like i do).  the articles also complained that weekend shows take up date nights.

another big complaint was that musicians don’t have money.  money has never been super important to me, but i guess it really matters to others.  here’s what i think about the whole money thing.  musicians do what they do because it’s their passion.  it’s what they love.  it also happens to be an incredibly expensive past time.  and that’s where most of their money goes — into guitars, basses (suddenly that plural looks weird as shit), drums, amps, cabs, wiring, lights, effects, pedals, merchandise — all of that costs a lot of money.  we’re talking thousands of dollars of equipment in one band.  and the upkeep can be pricey too–something goes wonky on your amp, and you might be out a couple hundo just to fix it.  if you do not have wealthy parents willing to drop a couple grand on you, you’re goin it alone.  i’m guessing that’s where this stereotype came from (and it IS a stereotype).  all the money stuff is a combination of factors.  first, equipment is expensive.  second, touring is expensive.  think gas, food, van rental (or purchase), fliers, all that stuff.  third, making a record is hella expensive.  studio time is often $500-$1500 per day.  not to mention mixing, sequencing, mastering, packaging, pressing, album artwork, etc.  and as i’ve learned secondhand (my boyo’s the first) this week, just when you think you’ve paid for it, you have to pay more.  fourth, if you want to pursue a music career, you will have to tour.  a lot.  think weeks, if not months, per year.  and if you will have to tour, you have to have a job that will allow you to do so.  which is why many musicians either teach music (independently or with a company) and/or work jobs with flexible hours, and lemme tell you, those jobs don’t pay that much. fifth, if you are serious about music, you have to practice.  preferably somewhere that will allow you to do so without adding the cost of noise violations to your spreadsheet of expenses.  for a lot of bands, this means renting a space where they can go practice.

the articles i read made it seem like a crime — accused musicians of being perpetual moochers.  but i think of it this way — doctors and lawyers spend years and thousands of dollars to start making any money.  even when doctors begin interning they are still pretty broke most of the time, and they don’t get shit for that.  so why do musicians?  personally, i don’t care about fancy dinners or getting showered with presents or anything, so i don’t really understand why people make such a big deal about saying musicians are poor.

i’m going to stop going into the points of the articles for now and talk about the more personal side of things.  being a musician is a full time job — to understand that, i had to really think about what my number one passion in life is.  what it is that if i don’t do, i will regret forever.  for me, that’s writing.  to achieve any of those kinds of dreams, it takes an immense amount of work.  i think for a lot of people who date musicians, sometimes it feels like they have to compete with all of the music hours.  one of the big complaints i read was that these people writing in or responding said that they “were never first priority” in the lives of the musicians they dated — that they felt like they always lost out to everything in regards to music, whether it was practice or shows or what.  and for me reading that, it was pretty scary.  it’s a topic to think about, to discuss.  no one wants to feel like they don’t matter, and no one likes to feel like they’ll be cast aside the second something “comes up.”  so i can understand that feeling.

i spent a lot of yesterday thinking about that.  i know a lot of women who date musicians — and we have a lot in common.  yeah, the guys do keep late hours.  they often practice late, shows are late, studio time runs late.  bands have to tour, and that means the significant others are gone for days or weeks at a time.  and i started to think and ask myself if that meant that we are less of a priority, if all the shows and practices mean that we are not as important.  the answer i came up with took a lot of thought.  and it’s not entirely satisfying.

the answer really is…it depends on who you’re dating.  i think all the people who wrote in to those articles, commented for them, etc. had been burned bad.  and that sucks.  if your relationship began because of that formula i mentioned above, and if it’s not a serious relationship, then i can see how the hours and the touring would be a big dealbreaker.  but in many (if not most) of the relationships around me, including my own, i feel like it’s not as simple as that.  i don’t think that the guys i know would classify everything in their lives into one category and force it all to compete against one another.  when one of those guys is in a serious relationship with someone, i don’t think that girlfriend and music occupy the same weight class.  and i came up with a distinction of why.  music is what they choose to do with their lives; we are who they choose to spend their lives with.

i’m still sort of flabbergasted that all of those articles out there exist.  how-to’s, etc.  the bottom line for me is that you can’t simply group all musicians into the stereotypes out there.  and it is beyond me why people would just hunt a certain profession to date someone in it, though i know people do.  in my opinion, if you’re serious about dating and not just looking for a fling, you ought to get to know whoever it is you want to date.  as a person.  not as a performer.  and at the end of the day, i know that i’m not a competitor against music for my boyfriend’s affection any more than his family would be.   good relationships are based on trust and communication — and if you’re basing it simply on how hot mr. dude looks with a guitar, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out.

so yeah.  there are tough things.  but it’s not fair to classify all people in one profession as lazy, drugged out, cheating bums.  and all the problems i read about in those articles could be prevented with some common sense and the simple act of looking beyond the guitar at the person wearing it.

there are plenty of good musicians out there.  and no, you can’t have mine.

or maybe we could go somewhere and eat a bunch of caramels

after the post-modernist revelation that was my blog from last night, i figured i would maybe write something ever-so-slightly more concrete.

i have a lot of friends expressing various degrees of angst about the dating world lately.  i have my own general gripes as well, but in recent days, i’ve had a lot of people coming to me, teeth gritted, slightly growly, going off on how they don’t understand this, that, or the other,  so i thought i would maybe try to boil some of that down into word soup.  better yet, a nice, reduced stock word demi-glace.   some of this is my own confusion, but most of that is just barely sprinkled in amongst the recent traumas of my social circle.  so on that lovely note, chew on some parsley, and bon apetit.

oddly enough, the main complaint i’ve heard recently (sometimes from my own mouth) is that no one seems to have a clue what it all means.  are we alone in this confusion?  is there some dating handbook that explains all this ridiculous terminology to the uneducated masses?  if so, i think a lot of us missed the sign-up sheet for the mailing list.  what does it mean to be dating someone versus seeing someone?  when does that magically transform into coupledom?  if the point of dating is to get to know someone, what do you do if you already know that person?

it’s all very confusing.

another major gripe i’ve heard recently has been about games.  and not the tiddlywinks sorts of games, either.   a friend told me earlier today that the guy she likes has been “claimed” by a girl at church.  that word alone made me perk up my ears and twitch an eyebrow.   last weekend, this girl (who is actually a 27-year-old woman, for shame) turned around and informed my friend that she was going to the upcoming dance, and this guy was “taken” — and that my friend would have to “find her own date.”  (the irony of the locale of this exchange shouldn’t escape you)

i sat there in startled shock for a moment before composing my elegant reaction of “?!?!?!?!?!”  followed by  “WHAT.”

really?  she said that?  who says that?  i mean, who beyond the hordes or hormone-induced cattiness that are made up of pubescent pre-teens.  but a 27-year-old woman?  really?  my head is reeling.  are human beings musical chairs now?  “sorry, this one’s taken.”  *smug smile*  it’s about as emotionally mature as saying, “i got there first,” with a “nanny-nanny-boo-boo” thrown in for good measure.

it’s a game.  a nasty game, at that.  she obviously went out of her way to try to get my friend to back off — something rather funny, considering my friend is hardly the type to throw herself at someone.  in addition to this one incident, apparently this girl has also “fake-married” this guy to stake her claim (again, musical chairs…apparently).  to use an internet meme…wtf.  actually, all that merits having it spelled out.  what.  the.  fuck.

maybe the subtleties of the female species elude me.  odd, because, you know.  i am one.  maybe i’m just more direct than most.  i personally think it’s better to just lay my cards on the table rather than slip poison into someone’s martini or bare my claws at the slightest sign of competition.  a lot of my friends are the same way as i am.

are the women who act like that really that insecure?   because to me, that’s what it says.  they see a threat, so they bare their claws and try to make the threat go away, hoping to get a rise out of the competition.  i think it’s probably because they know, on some deeper level, that they’re not going to get what they want.  i suppose sometimes they do get it, but even if the men in question are spared the barbs of these little exchanges, they’re not stupid, and they’ll probably see glimpses of cattiness through the facade.

i think it says an awful lot about the women willing to say something like that to someone, beyond insecurity even.  they obviously don’t feel confident.  but beyond that, they need to win.  farther, it seems to me that they need to put someone else down to feel better about themselves.  no one could tell me words like that wouldn’t sting — so they have to know damn well what they’re doing.

personally, if you have to resort to telling someone to back off like that for absolutely no reason, completely out of the blue, it shows you think the other person is a threat — probably because they sense the other person isn’t that into them.  for me, i don’t want to date anyone who doesn’t want to date me.  which is a mind-bending concept, i know.  but really.  when it becomes only about “winning,” people really start missing the point.  the point being finding someone you connect with who you want to have as a part of your life and be a part of theirs as well.

i’ll be the first to admit i’m not perfect.  i have my hang-ups like everyone else does.  i might be too blunt.  i tend to just blurt things out and then feel really awkward half the time.  but in my memory, i’ve never done anything like that to someone else.  and i wouldn’t.  it’s rather beyond catty and into mean-spirited, i think.  and in my book, that’s just really not okay.

i think it all boils down to communication.  a while back, i wrote a long post on honesty.  i think people are afraid to say what they think, because they’re afraid of getting hurt.  there’s a certain vague comfort in the agony of not knowing.  if you take that step out there on that limb and actually ask for what you want (god forbid) or say how you feel (the horror!), you risk rejection.  which is painful.  and scary.  but ask yourself this — if you like this person that much, first of all, one would hope that they’re worth the risk; second, if they don’t feel the same way, don’t you want to know so you can move on?

all of that said, i just don’t get it. the whole dating world is full of mysterious games and odd rituals.  you go out five times and you’re a couple — or something — at some point it’s “exclusive,” there’s probably sex in there somewhere, and you spend more time asking your friends what the hell is happening or how it’s gonna go than you do talking to the person you’re trying to smush your life together with.  it’s that pesky communication thing again.  no wonder we’re all messy.  there’s a reason we euphemize talking things out as “clearing the air.”

the people who have been coming to me with these stories lately are pretty straightforward people themselves — they’re doing their best to communicate and are running into brick walls right and left.  or, in one case, just minding her own business only to have someone stab her with a salad fork.  like i said, it’s all very confusing.  and apparently violent.  and, as will says in good will hunting, really pretty arbitrary.  it might be a necessary sort of arbitrary; i don’t know.  but to me, all the bizarre and inane dating concepts rather elude my grasp.

so that kind of brings me to say fuck it.  i just want somebody i can go somewhere and eat a bunch of caramels with.

Skylar: Maybe we could go out for coffee sometime?
Will: Great, or maybe we could go somewhere and just eat a bunch of caramels.
Skylar: What?
Will: When you think about it, it’s just as arbitrary as drinking coffee.
Skylar: [laughs] Okay, sounds good.

(quotes from good will hunting)

EDIT:  apparently my friends and i are not alone in our confusion due to dating nomenclature — a quick google search comes up with several confused forums trying to suss it out.  it seems like most people have their own ideas of what the hell everything means.  makes my caramel idea sound pretty good, doesn’t it?  screw the terminology.  i’m just along for the ride.

and just for all of your giggling pleasure, here’s some dating terminology humor.

“i’m looking for a new love…”

“…not just someone who loves when she’s drunk and fucked up…”

words by parachute musical, quite possibly butchered by me, on account of the fact that i’ve only heard that song a couple of times played live.  i’d definitely like to track it down.  but that’s digressing before i even get started.

this blog might get down and dirty a bit, in terms of personal.  i’m often willing to get personal on here–i’m a pretty open person.  but just…be warned.  i’m feeling a bit melancholy today, at a loss.  unsure of myself.  this is me at my not so hot.

“i’m looking for a new love.”
i don’t know if that’s true in a literal sense–meaning i’m not actively looking.  searching, maybe, on a philosophical level.  i’m someone who is pretty afraid of commitment.  if i think someone is more interested in me than i am in him, i get panicky.  i think it’s at least partly because i’m always afraid that if i’m interested in someone, he’ll be scared off.

i know where that comes from.  everyone has hang-ups–that’s one of the cool prizes for being human and interacting with other hung-up humans.  that’s one of mine.   and i know the source.  i waited seven months to tell my ex i loved him.  i waited until i was sure.  and he wasn’t.  sure, that is.  he left me a month later.  well, officially–he left me a lot sooner than that.  there was a lot more to it than that, but that image pretty much sums it up.  i told him how i felt, and he bolted.

i was filling out one of those stupid myspace surveys the other day, and one of the questions was, “do you think relationships are ever really worth it?”  my answer was an unequivocable yes.  i do think they’re worth it.  but it requires a lot of self-awareness and a willingness to battle with whatever baggage we have from previous encounters.  that’s what i’m doing right now.  battling.

everyone has issues.  the important thing is to recognize them and try to work them out–and to be open about them.  you can’t expect others to understand what you’re thinking if you don’t tell them.  i’m working on mine.  unfortunately (albeit as per usual), circumstance isn’t making it easy.

“…not just someone who loves when she’s drunk and fucked up…”
chemical intoxication aside, my thing here is that i want something mutual.  i’ve wasted far too much time in the past on people who just weren’t quite sure.  it’s exhausting, and i’m weary of it.

people are fickle critters.  emotions are seldom constant.  and it’s impossible to interpret silence.  relationships are such a mess.  and yet.

“will i have to spend this life alone?  where is my companion?
words by catherine maclellan.  it’s been a long, long time since i’ve wanted a relationship.  i’m very gunshy.  i’ve fled relationships for the last year and a half.  but now…there’s a longing here.  i miss waking up in the morning and finding someone there.  sleepy smiles and starting the day together.  i miss hearing someone’s breathing as i go to sleep at night.  i miss sharing this life with another person.  sharing struggles, memories, present.  laughter.  i’m tired of the dating world.  i don’t even understand how it works.  the terminology is confounding to me.  when are you dating?  seeing someone?  where do other people fit in and how?  or do they?  when is it exclusive?  i don’t understand what the fuck all of it means.  it’s too much for my head, and i’m sick of trying to understand it.  i’m also semi-convinced it’s a crock.  dating is supposed to be, at its root, a way to get to know someone, right?  what if you already know them?  do you skip that part?  call me cynical, but i almost think it’s just an endless distraction.  when people find something special, they usually just go for it.  it works because it works, without the mind-numbing confusion.  dating’s just a way to pass the time till that comes along.

now i’m just ranting.  i suppose i’m lonely.  that’s the common word for wishing there was someone there.  i miss the companionship, the intimacy, the sex.  all of it.

“love never finds you when you want it to, it waits till you’ve stopped waiting.”
i know this is true.  and so i suppose i’ll just chill out.  i made the mistake once of trying to be with someone i knew wasn’t right for me.  biggest dating mistake of my life.  i know two things.  one, i don’t want to settle for someone who just isn’t sure if he wants me.  two, i don’t want to settle for someone anything less than extraordinary.  the trick is to find those things at once. and when you do find that, knowing enough not to let it slip away.  to be brave enough to take that risk.

waiting is hard.  hoping at all on some flickering spark of a chance is hard.  it hurts.  it’s messy.  wondering what will happen–or if anything will happen.  that is where i am right now.  stranded in the realm of “we’ll see,” where anything is possible.  i don’t even know what to think.  maybe i’m stupid to hope for this.  i don’t want to let it slip away, but i’m only half of it.  it’s not all up to me.  and i guess, at the end of the day, i’m afraid that he’ll let me slip away.  i don’t want to get away.  i want him to keep me.  but right now, i just have to wait and see.  be happy if something happens and if it doesn’t, be sad and then go on with my life.

lonely.  yeah, that’s it.  i don’t just want anyone, either.  i want the chance for something really special.

“all these things i can’t figure out alone; they don’t matter with someone.  maybe i should learn to let it all go and just have some fun.”
catherine maclellan is probably right.