Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Honk! In the Name of Love

i know that if i saw this shit online somewhere, i would roll my eyes and do that finger-in-throat vomit gesture, but on my blog it’s kinda sweet.

love, in fact, is very sweet, in case you don’t already know. it’s what the world needs now. love, sweet love. it’s the only thing that there’s too little of. that shit that lights you up from the inside. that special person who wants to do you despite your gangly tooth and bunions. the giddiness of approaching a closed door that holds your boo on the other side. it’s so singular, and worth the messy breakups and tear-stained pillows that accompany it.

i’d like to say that i never knew love before now, but that’s unfair and inaccurate. truth is that i’ve had lengthy, healthy relationships with wonderful men who’ve made me a better girlfriend. through them, i learned the delicate art of compromise and communication and how to be more giving and less prideful. tough stuff for a chick like me.

and Mo’s also had some luck in that arena, particularly with the ultra-feminist ex-girlfriend who made him spend six months reading only books written by women. that did much to advance his knowledge of the female psyche, making him more attuned and understanding, a sensitive – but not pansy – man capable of embracing emotion. i’d like to send her a thank-you card.

exes always make us better for our next relationship. they teach us about ourselves and help us grow into our skin, providing a backdrop for behavioral trial and error, where we can work out our unconscious intimacy issues. those childhood slights that set us up for a lifetime of love drama. (as self-indulgent as psychoanalysis is, freud knew some stuff.)

i cringe when i think back to my first love and how clingy and unreasonable i was with him. but at that time, it seemed like the most natural way to be. just as it was most natural for him to be noncommittal at such a young age. and today, that amounts to nothing more than an anecdote highlighting youthful inexperience. first loves are overrated that way. they are quaint, but trivial – kind of like losing your virginity.

failure is meaningful. disappointment raises consciousness. and as much as i couldn’t see its value at the time, retrospect allows me to throw some gratitude toward it. what a joke love at 20 was. what a joke love at 30 will be when i reflect upon it at 40.

i probably don’t know as much about love as i think i do, but in my nearly 15 years of serial monogamy and occasional sluttiness, i have settled on a few maxims. (feel free to add your own in the comments.)

timing really is everything: perhaps more apt: maturity is everything, though that’s a package deal with time. and failure. and disappointment. and eventual recovery.
don’t push it: relationships take time to flower and their evolution should be organic. don’t badger anyone into marriage or force an emotion. rely on nature instead.
every girl has daddy issues: mine aren’t too bad since my daddy hasn’t failed me much, but it’s no strange coincidence that i gravitate toward tall, commanding, dark-haired, handsome men with facial hair, when my pops is just that.
never go for the cock block: a little jealousy is healthy, to be sure, but if someone wants to cheat, they will cheat and it’s better to just let them cheat and get that shit over with and exposed so you can move on from it.
you know it when you see it: love doesn’t need to be ambiguous or complicated. it pretty much is or isn’t there, and you either feel it or you don’t. instincts help with this one.
men are literal: unlike women, there is no need to read between the lines and no reason not to be direct. taking that a step further is my mama, who once told me: Men are simple creatures with a few basic drives – if he’s not horny, give him a sandwich.
the self-evident: in a healthy relationship, it’s important to have trust, respect, integrity, honesty, open communication, a solid friendship, common interests, shared values, etc, etc. the shit you’ve heard elsewhere.
touch each other: affection and good sex enable intimacy, and both should be kept in great supply. orgasms induce happiness and make people much more agreeable in love and in life. after all, the physical is what distinguishes a romantic relationship from a friendship. my happily married parents still greet each other with a kiss and hold hands in public. that affection kept them glued to one another for over 35 years, both literally and figuratively.
throw out the moldy bread: i know i’ve been guilty of hanging onto a relationship far past its expiration date, mostly out of fear that nothing better will come along, despite all the viable men walking the earth beside me.
do the work: once you’ve settled on a piece of bread, don’t allow it to get moldy. butter it, toast it, smear honey on it – do whatever it takes to keep it nourishing.

lately for me, love has been a paradise. and my boyfriend Mo has been my favorite person. he seems to have procured a rare copy of “my manual” with its “special handling instructions” that call for the perfect mix of intimacy and independence. he’s an impressive, commanding character, and i am thoroughly enchanted. it’s the love notes and beyond. he lights me up from the inside.

and i am so thankful for the past, with all its bad and good lessons learned, for giving me the tools and know-how for dealing with my terrific now.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Nickels & Dimes

if i had a nickel for every time someone told me to exercise caution in what i post here because it might catch up with me at my day job, i could cobble together about thirty cents. yeah, i think i’ve heard that advice about six times. i refuse to heed it and heel to it, however, cus i’m a wild and crazy nonconformist. with a day job. working in finance. corporate as it comes.

i know some work peeps have found this thing and commented to me about it. for all i know, more could be reading -- perhaps during work hours! -- and i could not care less. this is the internet. it’s the most public of spheres, and i’m well aware that anyone can see this. so don’t go telling me to be careful about sharing racy details about my life when i’ve never once mentioned the name of the company i work for nor have i discussed work matters here. keeping this thing going for three years has already required plenty of self-censorship and has turned me into a person with very little shame. and who the hell wants to read a sanitized version of history, with all its wars and famines and struggles omitted? yeah, yeah. i’m all about keeping it real. word to your mother.

march 14 makes one year that i’ve been with my current job and to commemorate the occasion, my boss kindly sat me down and gave me my annual review. seems just like yesterday i was asking the world to congratulate me on my hiring. i definitely made the right choice by taking this job. it’s done much in this past year to get me situated and stable. and, more importantly, it’s allowed me to splurge on new couches, cookware, an iBook, lots of clothes and other assorted goodies.

i love the expression, “work like you don’t need the money.” what bullshit! because if i didn’t need the money, i might stroll in at noon and put my feet up while i used my office line to make long distance phone calls. that’s “working” like you don’t need the money. i work like i need to pay my rent. i work because i prefer lobster to canned tuna. a girl’s gotta eat, and when she’s a single mother of a dog with bad hips, she works because she has to, not because she wants to. with that in mind, i don’t LOVE my job, but i do LIKE it, and that’s enough to keep me there indefinitely.

but back to the review... i was expecting the worst because i’ve spent years conditioning myself to be fatalistic. i walked in a bit nervous and jittery, eager to get to the “merit increase” portion of the program. my boss started by thanking me for the great contribution i’ve made to the company in the past year. i perked up and smiled. he then went on with more thanks and gratitude, talking about my great reputation as someone people like working with because i’m reliable and organized (what? me, organized?!), and that i’ve proved myself to be a quick learner and general badass adored by fans worldwide. then the lights dimmed and he broke into an oddly groovy rendition of m.c. hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” while i bopped my head approvingly to the beat. even his corporate slacks expanded into parachute pants for the moment.

ok, i’m embellishing that last part, but it had that same feel-good vibe going on. and the feeling good didn’t stop as he told me lots of nice things other people said about me before he announced the smile-inducing percentage that described my merit increase, which is reflected in my next paycheck. the only disappointing part in the litany of lovely adjectives he used to describe me as an employee -- dedicated, hard-working, dependable, diplomatic, good listener -- is that neither he nor anyone else thought i was “funny” or had a “great sense of humor.” i mean, what the fuck?

then we get to the tricky “areas for improvement” portion of the program and i thought to myself, “here it comes.” but that still turned out well, with general suggestions for learning the industry better and becoming a resource to others. and here i was expecting the “we’ve noticed that you don’t ask others about how their weekends went” and “you seem to arrive 10 minutes late every day but still leave at five on the dot.” but nope, only the good stuff.

by the end of it, i’m sure a blush had crossed my face. compliments embarrass me, despite how badly i want to hear them. he ended it by saying, “you fit in so well here. you’re really one of us.” come again? have i joined a corporate circus? how can i be one of them when i’m supposed to be a racy nonconformist? i have my nose pierced, for god’s sake. i was taken aback, but still managed to utter “thank you” through a gritted smile as i left his office.

then it hit me: i’ve morphed into a good employee, the corporate schlub i feared turning into. one step closer to becoming my parents. i have a retirement account with my name on it. i have weekly work meetings i must attend and “action items” i must complete. sometimes the monotony of my days underwhelms me to the point where i feel like stowing myself in the stern of a ship and sailing into a new existence. other times the predictability pleases me immensely.

i don’t mind the real world so much, but the responsibilities of adulthood can be suffocating. turning 30 in june only compounds the matter. oy, these growing pains. a vestige of my once carefree youth would be welcome right about now. on second thought, i think i’d rather have a new car.