Empty Promises?

My favorite New Year’s Eve activity is new: it is scrolling through various social media platforms and reading all the [hugely ambitious] goals my virtual pals are committing to.  They are generally funny, sometimes sad, and rarely kept.  Highlights for me:

 

*The already in a healthy weight gal-pal vowing to drop 30 pounds by June 1st.

*The toxic “friend” swearing off all negativity, avoiding people who bring him/her “down.”

*The alcoholic becoming drinking less.  And only on weekends.

*The shopaholic saving for a world trip.

*The pot-sirrer swearing off gossip.

 

The list goes on…you’re familiar.

 

For several years I’ve privately established priorities for myself and evaluated them after a year. Some of these priorities aligned with a new year, some of them popped up in response to a life event. This year, I evaluated year-long goals (superficial ones, I grant you) and was surprised. My more intimate goals, the true character development stuff is fodder for a different post.

 

As 2015 started:

*I was frustrated with sporadic fitness.  I hoped to exercise regularly.

*I wanted to read more. Once a voracious reader, the last several years have put my zeal for literature on the proverbial back burner. There’s always a show to memorize, a show to plan for, laundry to do, kids to watch, etc. In October 2014, a friend of mine told me about his new girlfriend, detailing how much she reads. There was a flash of anger as I felt that he was implying I didn’t read (couldn’t he remember me reading every day of our years as friends?!) or that she was better than me.  I swear to you, I was that irrational. Instead of clinging to those irrational thoughts, I channeled them. I wanted to prioritize my intellectual stimulation.

*I wanted to post to my blog more.  I’m not particularly good at blogging, but I enjoy the escape writing provides. I enjoy exercising a skill that I honed for some time in my past. I enjoy improving my word economy. I enjoy the catharsis each blog post brings. The entries are therapeutic and I find myself obsessing about that topic less once it is “LIVE”.

*I wanted to save more money.

*I wanted to continue previous efforts (“loves” lists, participating in things I enjoy- even if that means attending solo, prioritizing my relationship with Joe- keeping him as my partner and best friend, owning by bad behavior with acknowledgment and remorse, avoiding repeated bad choices…those things….)

 

My results:

*Although not stellar, I did exercise regularly. Even in falling off my routine for several weeks at a time (usually when I was doing a show), I moved enough to be happy and the quantified average is 1.4 times a week. Not great, but at least I moved.

*Books: I read an average of 2 books a month!  Wow! I was happy with this because I really felt like I was reading MAYBE four a year. That could be a lie. The actual number for 2015 is 23….I rounded up considering I have four half read books that are my priority this year.  

*Blogging: Dismal.  Four for the year.  😦  How could you have survived without my sad little musings?

*Savings: Let’s not talk about it.

*Previous efforts:  SPOT ON.  Freaking nailed it, in fact.

So.  My 2016 hopes- the ones I’ll make public:

1- Exercise 3 times a week.  

2- Read 2 books a month.

3- Write 1 new blog post a month.

4- Save some money.  Yeah.  Let’s not quantify that.

5- Send 1 handwritten note- unsolicited- to a real person every month.

6- Meal plan for our house every week.  EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

7- Keep up those other successful bits of awesome I attempt.

I got this.  

What are you up to this year?

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Dear Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Remember me? That fun, eager to please, book lending friend of yours? You were probably one of my very best friends despite our short time together. I loved that first time you invited me out.  I was shocked when my assistant covered the receiver with her hand, extending the phone to me.

“Jule, is Lisa.”

“Hello?”

“Hey! What are you doing Tuesday night?”

I immediately assumed you needed a favor: the baby picked up, the dog walked, the groceries shopped for, any one of the mundane tasks I reveled in accomplishing for you because I loved you.  And truthfully, because we acted like family. These were the things you did for family.

“Nothing. What’s up?”

“Wanna go out? I’m thinking dinner and drinks?”

WAAAAHHOOOOOO!!!!!!  She likes me! She really likes me!  I couldn’t believe it! Here we were: separated in age by a decade and at least half a dozen contrasting life decisions. I approached friendships with trepidation: my high school years were riddled with one mean girl after another, each knocking down a different part of my self esteem. My college years helped remind me of my good characteristics, and resulted in some of the best relationships of my life. My post-grad life brought me to you, your husband, and your daughter, a relationship that felt familiar and fantastic. It was as though I had finally met and connected with “my people.” On that afternoon we planned that you would pick me up on Wednesday, your hubby would stay with the baby, we’d do dinner, we’d hit the bars, and another fantastic summer night would be giggled about for years to come.

 

We did go out that night. And when you dropped me off at 3 AM, I broke down sobbing, having seen behind the Lisa curtain. Dinner started with you detailing the diamond earrings you demanded as a push present then progressed to you blatantly making fun of Johnathan- his dancing, his mother, his fashion, his work ethic.  By the time we left dinner and headed to drinks, you “confided” in me that you’d left Johnathan and Rebecca six months earlier and even filed for divorce. Your marriage was in trouble, but you resolved to stay married. The night ended horrifically for me, a spectator in all of the festivities: shots, pitchers, a wedding ring migrating to your right hand, creatively spun “single girl” tales for a group of young MBAs.  You disappeared. Taking off with a strange guy was one thing, asking me to lie to your husband about it quite another. I was devastated. I felt betrayed, embarrassed, sick, and utterly disgusted.

The next few weeks passed quickly. I was on the cusp of a fantastic career opportunity that relocated me. My first month away you called weekly, usually putting the baby on the phone.  Rebecca was just about two and hearing her say my name always made me smile. I sent care packages, you reciprocated. When I came home to visit at Thanksgiving, you three were my only socializing. At Christmas time, I looked forward to our “family dinner” and was shocked that you planned it for a night Johnathan was away. New Year’s Eve I spent alone. I should have known then.

By March, specifically my birthday, you were gone. I didn’t get so much as a phone call, let alone our usual cake/card/gift exchange. In April, my phone calls went unanswered. On May 12th I heard the rumor for the first time. Apparently I was sleeping with your husband.

In the ten years since that moment, I’ve thought of you and your family every single day.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My heart aches when I think of the slander, the abandonment, the loss of the relationship. I never slept with your husband. I never betrayed you. I never lied to you. I loved you with everything I had and earned a broken heart and bruised reputation.  Four years ago, having learned that you STILL perpetuated this lie, I called you.  I emailed you. I emailed Johnathan. The stony silence comforted me. If you weren’t ready for the confrontation, perhaps it was because you knew your own guilt in fabricating such an ornate piece of fiction. Perhaps you would have had to confront your own infidelity, dare I say infidelities. I will never know.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Rebecca now has to attend two dinners, traveling from your home to your ex-husband’s. Your ex-husband is dating a lovely woman, from what Facebook reveals, and it’s nice that they are geographically compatible to you and your new hubby. I wonder if you cheat on him, too. It never occurred to me to get my books back. I’m finally to an emotional place where I miss them far more than I miss you.

I challenge you to…

 

Come see a show this weekend.  I’m closing Noel Coward’s Private Lives at The Shawnee Playhouse.  After twenty-two performances, there are just three left. So often in my 32 years of performing (do you like how I start the count in kindergarten?), I hear, “We’d love to see you in a show!” I’m flattered and I hope that everyone gets the chance to come to a show.  Participating in the performing arts- whether on stage, back stage, or in the audience- is one of the single most important cultural contributions we can make.

With that, I offer up some common excuses about NOT attending a show and my rebuttals.

  1. I hate theatre.”

Oh, do you now? I have observed your drama; it’s very theatrical. I’m kidding. How do you know you HATE theatre? Have you been very often? What did you see? Substantiate your claim and I will never again ask you to attend.

  1. There’s a game on.”

DVR it.  Truly. There will always be something “on.”

  1. “It won’t be as good as Broadway.”

How will you know if you don’t see it?  It is a fallacy that only The Great White Way offers quality theatre. I’ve seen some really bad stuff in New York. I’ve seen some really spectacular stuff in community theatre in the middle of a cornfield in Topeka. I’ve seen everything in between all over the country. There is good theatre happening all over. You won’t know the good from the bad unless you see lots of it.

  1. It’s too expensive.”

How much is a ticket to Cinemark? Even the small screen movie house gets $10 for a seat. Did you know that not only can you see a terrific show for less than Cinemark, but many playhouses offer free tickets to volunteers. Usher, build a set, strike a set…stuff you know how to do is rewarded with free admission.  

  1. “I don’t like [so and so] and he/she is in it.”

This drives me wild. I have a friend who hates an area actress for personal reasons. Their friendship fell apart several years ago and they’ve been unable to cross the social chasm of their breakup. The difficulty lies in that my friend fancies herself a theatre person (as a supporter/audience/critic). She refuses to attend any show that this particular actress is involved in. The kicker is that this actress is one of the finest thespians in our area. She’s delightful on stage. My friend denies herself a truly wonderful experience for a dumb grudge. For me, she also voids her claim to be a “theatre person” by boycotting one single performer. Isn’t it supposed to be about the craft overall? So, my friend and friends, how much interaction are you really going to have? The actor is on stage. You are in the house. In most scenarios, you aren’t even visible to each other. Heaven forbid the show has a meet and greet, scoot out quickly.  Or, better yet, just act like grownups. Pass with civility and appreciate the art for the set, the script, the costumes, the acting, the singing. Leave your fight in the past and outside the theatre. Need I mention that everyone seems to hate Anne Hathaway but we all went to see Les Mis anyway?

  1. It’s boring.”

You don’t know this to be true of each and every show. I beg you to trust my judgement as it relates to Private Lives. You will laugh. You will shudder. You will think, “Huh. That’s sad.” You will see yourself and people you love in the moments playing out before your eyes. You will get a glimpse into fashion and social issues of 1930 and embrace how timeless they really are. You will NOT be bored.

  1. “I’m too busy.”

This is a tricky one. Busy is relative. When I’m glib my reply is, “If you’re busier than me you are likely the leader of the free world.” When I’m sarcastic my reply is, “How much time do you spend sending me Candy Crush invites on Facebook?” When I’m sincere my reply is, “This is important. This is nourishment to a part of your brain and your soul that isn’t met with any other activity.” I am confident that in six weeks of performances, two hours can be found.

  1. It’s not my thing.”

No, it isn’t. But you are my friend. Having kids wasn’t my thing, but I have celebrated and contributed to each of yours. Getting married isn’t my thing, but I willingly attend showers and weddings, celebrating your choices and even gifting. Sitting in a bar all afternoon isn’t my thing, but I meet you for drinks.  These aren’t scores being kept, I offer examples of how in life we do things that might represent a compromise, a key element to successful relationships. I won’t repeatedly ask you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. I’d love for you to share just one show with me.  

  1. “I’d rather stay home and binge-watch Netflix.”

I appreciate your honesty. It makes me sad, though. We’ve increasingly become so  isolated. Society overall would prefer to sit alone, eyes glued to their small screens, having an experience that isn’t shared with anyone. Later, perhaps, you’ll chat about the most recent series you’ve devoured, but from start to finish you’re alone. When was the last time you experienced something moving, something funny, something poignant with 50 other people? 100? 15? When was the last time the energy of a group of people shaped your enjoyment of it?

 

  1. Watching a movie or TV show is the same thing.”

Wrong. There are so many unique elements to stage work, but the crux of the genre boils down so easily for even the least seasoned audience member among us. Come see actors who have to get it right in one take. Watch their physicality that has to hit the mark every single time, not get chances to fix it in editing. Listen to their words, knowing they’ve memorized every bit of dialogue, no teleprompter in sight. Maybe you’ll marvel at the capacity of the human body to achieve these feats, perhaps you’ll witness a dropped line covered by another performer. What you will see is real.

 

 
Joe frequently reminds me, “Not everyone likes theatre, babe. You need to get over it. They’re not coming.” I won’t give up that easily.Come to the show.  You can score half price tickets if you ask me for the coupon code.

“It would be easier if you were married”

I’m an active member of my community. If a volunteer opportunity presents itself, I seize it. My google calendar frequently resembles a stained glass window, but I enjoy contributing to the proverbial “greater good.”  So here’s my current conundrum.

 

Several months ago I was approached by a “friend” who wanted advice on promoting an event. This pal of mine is not terribly good at promotions. He doesn’t fully grasp how to maximize social media platforms, his writing is bland, and his aesthetic is quite muddled. I want his recent undertaking to be successful, so I gave my two-cents.  I also said, “Please let me know about [this charity’s] upcoming events.  I’m a great party planner, I’m a killer guest bartender, I am a worker. I will gladly pitch in to help get more attention to this cause.”

“Great! You bet! Talk to you soon.”

 

The silence that followed was deafening. Not only did I not hear back from Peter, his online gobbeldy-gook continued in addition to employing ALL of the ideas I pitched to him. Shortly thereafter I ran into a mutual friend who is also part of the organization, expressed my desire to get involved in “the cause,” and was met with a polite, “Great! I’m sure your talents can be utilized somewhere.” That was on April 15th. Yesterday I received a disastrous invitation to the charity’s next fundraising event and, after obsessing for a solid fifteen minutes, was flushed with anger. (I concede that my anger may be a bit over the top, annoyance would have sufficed; I’m dramatic AND a Pisces.) Here is my thought process upon opening the invitation:

 

1- Great!  I’ll see if I am available.

2- I wonder what to wear.

3- Wait. I offered to do this.

4- I offered to help with this.

5- Why is the graphic on this invitation so pixilated?

6- What time does it start? Why doesn’t it say what time it starts? Or how much it is?

7- Is this for real?

8- Why didn’t he just call me?

9- I’m not going. Screw that. I’ll send a donation to the generic donation address.

10- What.  The.  Fuck.

 

I obsessed for another fifteen minutes and curbed the desire to call Joe and bitch to him about it.  He’d say, “You’re off the hook. One less thing to do.” Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Good point.  Not MY point, however.

 

In Peter’s exclusion and blatant ignoring of my offer, I felt shunned. I wasn’t questioning my talents or what they could do in terms of helping raise essential funds for a small charity: I know I am useful. I wasn’t balking at not being asked to do for free what I regularly get paid for: those words don’t even make sense all strung together. I was being plain old left out with not one but TWO recent and polite acceptances of my offer. I sought an answer via iMessage.

7:58 pm

JKD: Hey!  Got your invite.  What’s up? What do you need? What can I do?

PTJ: Hey yourself! Not so much. Nada. I think we r set.

JKD: Kk… So can I be bratty and ask you something?

PTJ: Shoot. Brat.  Lol

JKD: Is it that you don’t need MY help? ‘Cause I’m letting my feelings get hurt that I keep offering to help and you keep sort of accepting the help and then not really accepting it.

[Here appeared the dreadful “…” as he was allegedly typing a reply and I was staring at the poor iPhone6 so hard my eyes watered.]

8:17 pm

JKD: I promise I’m not like “end our friendship” mad. I’m just confused and don’t want there to be “stuff” between us.

PTJ: Nah it’s cool. I know you want to help. And that’s awesome. It’s just that…

PTJ: Idk. It would be easier if you were married.

JKD: Haha.  Very funny.

PTJ: It’s really hard to have you help with something that’s all couples.

 

 

The. Fuck.

 

I didn’t reply. I don’t have a reply. I don’t think his answer makes sense, particularly now that I’ve obsessed about it on-and-off for 20 hours. Try as I have to wrap my brain around this last message, I can’t. CAN. NOT. I’ve explored lots of possibilities and will not settle on one and have now taken to writing about it in an effort to release the demons.

What I hope: they really are set and have all the volunteers and donations and lists and logistics ready for the event.

What I fear: I suck at everything and no one wants me to “help,” lest I muck it up.

What I’d be okay with: The hierarchy is threatened. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when someone does something really well, some folks get nasty and defensive? I’m [not so secretly because it’s on the internet] hoping that the three paid employees and five member board that head up this organization’s efforts are worried that their positions would be endangered by Juliet coming in and working as a volunteer. I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.

What I suspect: One of the more established volunteers doesn’t like me so I’m out.

What I also suspect that sounds crazy when I talk about it: I’m a threat. I’m the very-single-very-attached wild card at any party. I’ve been in a domestic partnership with the cutest of boys for 11.25 years. We’ve co-habitated for 11 years. We have lots of shared interests, but many more separate ones. Typically, I attend functions alone. There have been times when this does not sit well with “friends,” particularly women. I talk, I drink, I banter, I can be (well….I am almost always) a tad entertaining, I laugh. I have fun and I leave. There are no double dates planned, no couples’ vacations to anticipate, no dinners for multiples of two. I’m me and I go home to my Joe. From a particular perspective, I’m a reasonably attractive, reasonably talented, single woman.  Clearly I must be trolling for all the other ladies’ partners, right?

I told you it sounded crazy.

So, I’m no closer to feeling better. Small town social politics are tough. Maybe it really is just one person that doesn’t like me and it’s easier for the group to acquiesce and keep me as a donor, not a volunteer. Maybe I’m labeled a man-stealer as I approach middle-age. Maybe I’m just not aggressive enough and not on the radar of the group overall. Hopefully I stop pouting, attend the event, have four glasses of wine, and interrogate Peter et al when  the truth is likely to come out. En vino veritas, etc, etc, etc.

 

 

 

When Facebook stalks for you

Most of us are guilty of Facebook- stalking.  We creep our friends. Our non-friends.  Our exes.  Their currents. Our potentials. This isn’t the act of a rational person, but man is it common! And let’s admit it- sometimes it’s super fun.

When I first got into “modern” social media (circa 2006), it was enthralling to follow digital trails around circles of friends and acquaintances. Nine years later, however, the allure is dead. I barely have time to accomplish what NEEDS to get done in life, let alone indulge in weird surfing like this. In the past, and certainly during the early days of in-home internet access, Googling was it. To a certain degree you had to be good at searching for people, knowing key words and actual life facts. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes those AIM away messages told you everything you needed to know about a person. And if you really had patience, online chat rooms and message boards were riddled with the innermost thoughts of us nerds. In 2015, however, being nosey is a mere swipe away! Social media has taken over so many people’s lives, it is easy to find out where someone vacationed last month, what their kid wore to prom, and certainly what everyone had for lunch today. You don’t even have to do any work; most platforms will suggest people you know based on multiple algorithms. The folks populated in these sidebars share mutual “friends” with you, live near you, work for the same organization, or frequent the same establishments. Makes you re-think all those “Check-Ins,” doesn’t it? I enjoy that Twitter and Instagram don’t force feed these suggestions on me. Facebook however, loves to boss me around.  This week, I’m over it.

For months, a former flame has been popping into my present-tense. We don’t live near each other nor do we see each other anymore, but somehow artifacts from our relationship are appearing everywhere in my home and workplace, songs that haven’t played in twelve years play twice a day, and there are occasional texts. This man remains one of my great loves- from 2001 until 2004 he was everything; I thought I would spend the rest of my life with him. When we decided to back off of our romance (for career considerations), there was no dramatic ending. We were best friends who respectfully agreed to come back to each other. Um, yeah. That didn’t happen. I met Joe and we’re happily ever after. Anyway….because this guy meant so much to me and I him, we’ve stayed friendly- friendly, but distant. Over the past fourteen months that “The Haunting” (as I call it) has kicked into high gear, I’ve been able to ascertain that there are major shifts in his life that have led to him being a little friendlier. I’m glad to be here for that. It’s nice to have respect for our time together and honor the past that helped shape my life, all the while keeping my focus on Joe and our life together. Facebook has other ideas.

First, Facebook decided to suggest him (the ghost) as a friend.  DAILY.  Then- POOF! Nothing.  Thanks, Facebook for making me panic.  Has he blocked me? Why would he block me? Why isn’t he being suggested anymore?  Does he hate me? Is he ignoring me? AAAARRRGGGGHHHH.  I had to Facebook stalk.  Whew.  Still there, still visible.  Still not a “friend.”

Then, Facebook decided to suggest him as a friend each time he changed his profile picture. His first picture was innocuous. A landscape from a vacation. Then he moved on to a possession- hmmm.  I don’t remember him being that materialistic. Then a photo of him and the girlfriend. Wonderful, Facebook, truly. I want him to be happy. And that he’s happy with someone so much less attractive than me is even better. Then “he” was a stock image of a cartoon. Perfect. Thank you, Facebook, for reminding me how cliché he really is.  Finally, back to the girlfriend.  I stopped looking at my friend suggestions.

Two nights ago Facebook upped its game.  As I settled into my five minutes of relaxation at the end of the night, I scrolled down my newsfeed and the “People You May Know” feed was right in the middle of my iPhone 6 screen. There she was. The girlfriend. Facebook, dear, darling, time-sucking, false-intimacy-creating, stupid Facebook, why in the HELL would you suggest this creature to me? And why is she FIRST in a series of 50?! She and I share but three mutual friends- all of them scattered across the easter seaboard, all of them college friends of the man we both “know.” We are not from the same town, we do not have similar interests, nor do we share similar work-backgrounds. Then…Eureka!  Facebook’s peace offering for taunting me was this unfortunate picture- taken in a bar, bad hair color, bad haircut, bad fashion. Is she drunk in this photo? Whoops…did I just click on her name?  Oh my- look at all the public information she has here. Oh dear- did I just peruse all of her public photos and posts? Am I seeing posts in which my ex is tagged so I’m cross-referencing their date nights with the copious texts I’ve received from him, noticing that he likes to atone for flirting with me by taking her to a chain restaurant for dinner?

My five minutes of relaxation turned into 25 minutes of psychotic online creeping. I’m not proud of this, but I do own it. Facebook helped, but I was easily nudged to be the cyber-stalker that Lifetime movies are made of. By the end of this little swipe-session, I was tired, bored, and sad for my former lover. More on that later…

My spring challenge is less time online. This resolution is difficult during the day- have you ever heard of someone working in social media marketing that DOESN’T have a constant feed….or six?! Regardless, down time is essential. Focusing on my spring show is a no-brainer. I’m committed to reading more, running more, lamenting less.  I have a fantastic present, a crazy busy calendar, and fantastic memories that need not be sullied by algorithms, lesser versions of me, or fleeting relationships. Facebook stalked for me and ultimately gave me some closure.

Now, about Snapchat….

 

 

 

The Wave

I’m a big fan of The Wave.  Not of sporting event fame, but rather, that moment when you’re driving and a friend sees you and waves. I have a friend who is terrible at this.  Truly.  There are only like TWO THINGS my friend Sarah can’t do, and spotting friends in vehicles is one of them. For me, there’s great pride associated with spotting a vehicle in motion and identifying the driver. In my small town, it’s a quick way to keep up on life.

“Mark must have had a good winter. New truck, new letters, new boat.”

“Wow. Guess she got everything in the divorce- he’s STILL driving that Explorer. ”

“You-know-who is back in town. THAT can’t be good.”

“Randy’s home from vacation.”

That kind of stuff. The idle gossip of small-town people.

There are different kinds of waves. There’s the town tight-ass who’s wave looks more like  Nazi salute. There’s the town flirt who’s wave is just as flirtatious as he is- all his fingers kind of tickle the air between him and his windshield. There’s the genuinely happy to see you wave of our local politician. There’s the half wave of  the “I’m so busy being busy I can’t take my full hand off the wheel” local business owner. Regardless of style, with each wave, you have a connection.

For me, The Wave is an essential way to gauge the state of your relationships. A while ago my former best friend stopped waving at me.  This was YEARS after we stopped being friends, but we were still civil- at least on the roadway. When he stopped waving at me, it was as devastating as our friend-breakup. What had I done? Why can’t he see me?  I have the same car! Insert Lifetime Movie worthy obsessing here.  He later upped his game and would turn his head to face the opposite direction when we passed. [Side note: That’s a dangerous kind of “FUCK YOU.”] Turns out, he just doesn’t care about civility anymore.

This morning a different friend of mine didn’t wave. It gave me pause: did he not see me? Was he so focused on his day that my car fell into his myopia? Maybe he just wasn’t aware of me because it was so early- I’m notoriously NOT a morning person. I spent quite a bit of my drive to work mulling over all the possible scenarios, because that’s just how I roll. As I walked to my office, I laughed at myself:
IT DOESN’T MATTER.

 

Besides, Joe always waves.  That’s all I need.

 

 

 

Wasting Time?

I love lists.  You can tell just by poking around “The Great’s Escape,” I love all lists. So many of us love that sense of accomplishment when we cross something off a “To-Do” list, manage to get everything on the grocery list, and possess more than half of a “Most Desirable Attributes in a Human Being” list.  Thank you for that, BuzzNews. (This is not real. Don’t email me.)

This list worried me. You know from a previous entry that I have been catching myself in horrifying moments of shallowness, meanness, and bitterness.  The last time I was on this downward spiral, I attributed it to a heartbreak.  (Shocking news, I’m sure, to you regular readers.) This time around, these bouts of ugliness are not continual- they are moments that roll in like thunder clouds, scare me, and blow away just as suddenly.  I wonder if I set about actively rejecting these ten items, could I pull myself away from these moments and stop the spiral? They seem to be not only time wasters, but a recipe for lifelong misery.

Inc. posted Geoffrey James’s “10 Huge Time Wasting Mental Habits” online. His list (without his comments…you can read the whole thing here) is:

 

1. Wondering what other people are thinking.

2. Speculating how life would be different if only you had …

3. Imagining the worst that could happen.

4. Worrying about the economy.

5. Getting angry at other drivers.

6. Blaming your mother for who you are now.

7. Astrology.

8. Complaining about things outside your control.

9. Expecting anything to be perfect.

10. Arguing with strangers.

 

Numbers one, two, and ten stopped me in my tracks.  (Well, they stopped me in my clicks because I was reading my Facebook Newsfeed at the time.) I am so incredibly guilty of these things! I try to imagine what others are thinking all the time. When I’m interested in justifying it, I will conclude that it helps me empathize. It helps me sympathize. It helps me temper my own reactions as I wonder how a situation would be interpreted and acted upon by someone else. Number two is how it happens that I have so many “Drafts” of blog posts. I am fascinated with how one moment in time, one quick decision will alter the rest of your life. Sometimes I am able to marvel joyously at those instances – job interviews, Joe, so many moments with the kids. The flip side to the marveling, is the lamenting. Enter: every “ghost”of my past. Number ten hit close to home because just recently I got in an argument (online, no less), with a total stranger. It was dumb. I needled her deliberately. Neither one of us was going to back down. It was stupid- BEYOND stupid.  This item on the list I get and I need to be more aware of my reactions, particularly in virtual settings.

What do you think of these habits? Are you guilty of any of them?

 

I am better than you.

Not you.  You’re my friend.  But I am better than “HER.”

 

There are times you just need to feel superior.  Here’s a really good time to feel superior:

When an ex has a new love.  Not girlfriend.  Not hook up.  LOVE.  And not just any old ex.  A love.  A GREAT LOVE.  Yeah.

 

My “grown-up” sensibilities of wanting this man to be happy are often overruled by my hormones and emotions. I want him to be happy with ME. I want him to want ME. I want him to love only ME. Mature, I know. Evolved, I know. Selfless, I know. The very darkest part of me slips into a mean girl abyss when I think of them, the happy couple. I’m not proud of this. I am very grateful that having travelled to their proximity twice in six months, I will not be back there for at least a year. That will help- I hope. As I take three deep breaths and try to convince myself that I really do want him to be happy, I wonder how the hell that will happen with this girlfriend? I know they have been seeing each other for a while. I know they live together. I know there’s talk of a baby (salt, wound). But she just isn’t good enough for him.

So, in the spirit of my catharsis, in the spirit of recognizing that this is not a particularly unique reaction, and in the spirit of not annoying my friends with my ridiculous laments of, “What If… ” and petty nastiness:

 

Hey, Chippy!  I’m better than you.  Here is the short list of why:

1-  You’re not aging well.  Seriously.  I’ll sell you some Mary Kay products if you promise to use them and break up with him.

2- You seem to be very focused on cheap beer and hot tubs. That’s great. I prefer to have my theatre life, hobbies, civic involvement, culture, continuing education, AND some party time. While I absolutely enjoy a quiet night on the screen porch or in the hot tub, I love exploring and traveling. I love adventure and learning, dreaming and achieving. Perhaps that is not for everyone; I get it- small town life, small time job, and freshly-filled acrylic nails are all you need.

3- You have terrible fashion.  Really, really dreadful. I can help you, but I don’t want to. Keep wearing mom jeans, white capris in October, and perms with straight bangs.

4- Honey.  Oh, honey. You looked way better as a brunette. If you must indulge in blonde, please go to a salon. “Brassy” isn’t a good look on anyone.

5- He looks awful. When we were together, he was fit, well-dressed, and professional looking. Now, I have actually seen him in a camo ball cap. He’s puffy. He’s the heaviest he has EVER been. He’s red-faced all the time. There is such a thing as too much cheap beer in that aforementioned hot tub. And did you buy him those ridiculous dress shoes?  His job is not on Wall Street circa 1985.

6- I’m hotter. And for sure better in bed.

7- I’m smarter.  WAY smarter.

8- We were a power couple. Granted, I’ve moved since then, but we were spectacular. I am confident that we still know every person in that southern zip code and could easily dominate the political and social scenes. And I’m fun.  SUPER fun.

9- I’m a strong independent woman with opinions that I’m not afraid to offer. I like to be challenged, I like to banter, I like to speak up. I’m sure of myself, I like myself, and I stand by the decisions I make. Sometimes I pity you a little because you’re such a weathervane, blowing in whatever direction the wind decides.

10- I genuinely want to participate in the world around me and make it better. I love idle gossip and zoning out at the bar watching football as much as the next gal, but I cannot fathom that being my full-time preoccupation.

Ultimately, I do want my ex/your current to be happy. If that’s with you, so be it. I am going to try and be nice. Starting now. At very least I am going to try and ignore. I will always keep him in my heart and I hope part of his heart is reserved for me, too. I don’t want your boyfriend, I promise. I just want validation that I (and our relationship) was important in his life. For ten years and counting, I have been desperately in love with a wonderful man – a man who thinks I’m better than you, too.

 

Ok…..trying to be nice is starting NOW.

 

 

 

Gunman on the loose? Clearly you know everything, oh, grocery bagger.

Humans are funny, aren’t they?  They know everything and nothing at the same time.  Right now there is a massive manhunt going on in my area; a local man gunned down two PA State Troopers, one of whom died at the scene.  As we enter day six in the midst of night six, lots of social media is causing lots of problems. A recurring theme in each of my feeds is “friends” from all over asking advice of those of us in the thick of the news-moment.  Tonight, a Facebook pal asked our thoughts on shopping at the local outlet complex tomorrow.  I replied:

 

“Just my thoughts: There are police and SWAT everywhere. Thankfully they aren’t advertising locations and strategies. Our local guys are doing a FANTASTIC job of searching and advising the public. There are higher risk areas than others- don’t go hunting alone on hundreds of acres of woods, for example. Do not go looking for this guy in remote areas, trying to cash in.

I go to work. I walk through town. Tonight in my wooded development I still ran for 2.5 miles at dusk/in the dark. I wouldn’t go out alone now, but I will leave for work tomorrow.

I think you will be fine at the crossings tomorrow. Despite some “nudges” implying this will be like the DC Sniper, it won’t be. We don’t have that expanse of mall/parking area like Tyson’s Corners.

My last tidbit that I really don’t need flack for- – it seems that this suspect has a very specific agenda. I will not let theories dictate a mindful, safe approach to normalcy.

Go to the outlets. Keep your wits. Be safe. Stay involved with your kids and balanced in your community.

<3″

This is the reply I received, in my FB pal’s status/comment thread:

  • @ Juliet , I think your comment was a bit offensive to me. I’m not some paranoid crackpot ….. I get news firsthand at work since I’m a Federal Employee and I use caution that’s all

 

So….

Publicly I wrote, “I appreciate your candor, [Federal Employee].” Privately I messaged this individual:

 

Dear [COMMENTER],

While I’m not sure what offended you, it was not my intention. I offered, as stated, my opinion to the state of the manhunt on the Pocono Plateau. Further, your suggestion that I don’t know what’s going on gave me pause.

Facebook is a double-edged sword. There are terrific sources of information but there are far too many people posting as “authorities” when in fact they react viscerally. Their reactions are having a direct and profound NEGATIVE impact on the search for this psychopath. Ultimately, anyone (including FEDERAL EMPLOYEES) who are not first responders in the case and choose to proffer information to the public are a hindrance to the suspect’s apprehension.

I respect your decision to act with a heightened fear. My decision to act with confidence in law enforcement should not be cause in discounting my comment on a friend’s post. You certainly could have contacted me directly to engage in an intelligent dialogue.

Juliet

 

What do you think?

 

 

To the sexy man I dated for two and a half years…

Dear Christopher,

A word of caution:  This is intended for the attractive, sexy man I dated for two and a half years (or so).  If he is gone, please disregard. I doubt I will send it to you. Perhaps if it is sent, it will never be read. It is probably a missive that shouldn’t be penned.   Alas, I’m lousy at the “should” and “should nots” of life.

You and our former relationship have been haunting me for quite a while.  In fact, I’ve been visited almost daily since April by memories or artifacts from our time together. It’s a bit strange: if I ponder what the universe is up to, I repeatedly arrive at two conclusions. My “hauntings” undoubtedly align with a major shift/change/decision in your life.  The two most obvious choices are 1) your dad dying and 2) taking the “next step” with your girlfriend.

So why am I inclined to torture us both with white space and questionable font choices? I don’t think I know for sure. I do know that every memory, emotion, and thought of you and “us” I’ve experienced over these five months really affected me.

If you’re actually reading this, I hope I’m not making you uncomfortable. I also hope that if you’re indulging this meander through the past, you know my intentions are pure: I’m grappling with the past (and perhaps a bit of the present) and want to honor it.

Some of the highlights of my recurring memories are of course movies (who knew I’d come to adore The Royal Tennenbaums so much!), songs (“Juliet” by LMNT was, of course, your find), and places. Sometimes they are filled with longing (I should have kept that CD of songs your friend Alex made you to challenge all of my “Juliet” songs), confusion (we really didn’t achieve a break up or closure, right?), and the occasional resentment (it’s impossible to be friends POST-relationship when we weren’t friends PRE-relationship). Some of the ghosts of our past surprise me- I’m preparing a monologue performance for my Gettysburg College Alumni Cabaret on 9/20.  I selected the piece, submitted it, and earned a spot in the program. As I rehearse it, I’m nearly paralyzed by…..drum-roll…..us. You helped me learn these lines twelve years ago in OCMD. The trips we were able to glean, no matter how short, boring, or unplanned are as meaningful to me as trips twelve times in length or to far more exotic locales. There is of course the issue of a super-soft, adorable teddy bear. The kids just don’t understand why they can’t play with or sleep with him. They get downright annoyed that Teddy Bear Christopher (remember that Christmas?!) is off-limits.

Almost every day of the past five months I’ve been able to vividly recall the thrill of seeing your phone number on my caller id. Your office number is still ingrained in my brain. Honestly, seeing your name on my iPhone screen still produces butterflies of glee. You’re one of my great loves, a fact that dazzles and saddens me in one swift gesture.

I adore the defining characteristics of our time together:

~it was all ours.

~it was honest. That seems a bizarre sentiment now.

~it was our best. It was our worst.

~it was easy.

~it was fun.  Really fun.  FUN.

~is was 100%. Weird to say since we clearly parted ways, right? I had have no qualms in giving you all of me and am honored to be someone you trusted with all of you.

~it was the perfect and most necessary event for each of us at a very specific point in time. I hope you feel that way, too.

 

This is a bit much. I’m sorry.

Hearing of your father’s passing was profound. I’m so sorry you lost him so suddenly and can only guess at the circumstances into which you were thrust. When a man has lived as honorably and genuinely as he did, the time never seems right. I certainly don’t have to offer a sentiment this obvious: your dad was a superior man. This is evidenced in everything he leaves behind, most of all YOU. You are an incredible man with an incredible heart, a fantastic mind, and an incomparable spirit. For a week after I heard (which was not timely; please forgive the delay in my condolences), all I wanted to do was whisk you away to the beach, wrap myself around you, and just let you BE- not be strong, not be the caretaker, not be the planner, not be the captain of the family ship….just be.

The worst part of this haunting has been nonsense that comes with overlapping circles of friends, a fact I’d hoped we’d be spared given our geographical incompatibility. In the thirteen years since we jumped into that pool, I haven’t heard nearly as many stories about you as I have since April. It is awful; you deserve better. In fact, what I want more than almost anything in the world is for you to have better- for you to have true and complete happiness.

I’m not writing for anything other than catharsis, I suppose. I love you. I love our past. I love having something that is all mine…us. I love sharing this golden nugget of a story with you. And I really love running into you. The miles between us are many so those few times we’ve happened upon each other have been fantastic. It’s almost as good as planning a job interview for a city in which you’re travelling for business and getting lost in the strangeness of an unfamiliar zip code for hours at a time. 🙂 The more challenging days since April were perhaps my impetus in writing today…

I’m getting too scattered…..

There are days I really (really, really, really, really) miss you. There are days I wish we’d had a more definitive parting. There are other days when I’d change nothing.

You’re a great man. I’m so glad to have you in my heart, I’m so fortunate to have had you in my life. I’m so sorry you lost your dad. I do hope this letter doesn’t alter the friendly texts we are able to enjoy in the present, because I do look forward to them. And if you’re up for a chance meeting and a cold beer…I’ll buy.

You’re my Christopher.

Wishing you only the best,

Juliet