Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

February 27, 2008

Relationship Growth Spurts

Some relationships move shockingly fast. You meet somewhere random (and rarely through any service you actually paid for), go out on a casual afternoon date that turns into love, then cohabitation, followed by engagement - all within a two month time period.

Other relationships seem to go in ultra slow motion. You date for 8 years, live together for 2 more, and then endure a yearlong engagement.

And then there's somewhere in between, which is what I seem to strive for. So what is that magical factor that determines the "right" amount of time to move to that next level in a relationship? And just because it feels "right" for you, doesn't mean your partner is in line. You could be thinking, "I'm ready to spend the rest of my life with this person," while he/she is thinking "Shit, have we already been dating that long? Yikes."

The chance of two random people on this planet actually meeting and being on the same timeline (whether conscious or subconscious) seems like a total and complete fairy tale. Except that it isn't a fairy tale. I see it happen all the time. To people I actually know.

Lately I'm noticing other couples around me that have managed to hit the invisible trigger that puts their relationships on super time warp.

One of these couples includes my friend Gouda and her boyfriend (of 7 months I think?) Babyface. When they first got off the ground, it was a bit of a bumpy start. Around three months in, I started worrying that we might see the all too familiar 3-month relationship meltdown. But, thankfully, I was wrong and they seemed to finally hit their stride. But a normal stride. Normal, that is, until Olivia came along.

Who's Olivia? She's a 2 1/2 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that just breaks your heart with her preciousness. Gouda's parents received the puppy as a gift and just couldn't take on the responsibility at their age. That's when Gouda stepped up and said, "I'll take her!" She knew it was a huge decision and one that would change her life, especially after living alone for years with the freedom to take off on spur of the moment trips. However, before she said yes to the dog, she and Babyface talked it over and what came out of the conversation was not just the decision to get a new puppy, but a glimpse into their future - as co-parents.

All of a sudden this normally paced couple (normal according to me - a total oxymoron I realize) became the doting (if slightly overprotective) new parents of a bouncing baby puppy. The feeding, care, training of this little creature became their first "couple project," and one that let them subconsciously show off their parenting styles to each other. They went from "dating" to "raising a family together" in a matter of two days.

I also just found out about another couple that went hyperspeed, but for an entirely different reason. When I last saw them in December (a few weeks before my surgery), they were just pretty good friends within a larger group of "tennis people," who socialized frequently both on and off the tennis court. By the time I emerged from my two month recovery cocoon, I found out they not only were romantically involved but that they had moved in together.

With one year of mutual friendship under their belts, it doesn't seem all that crazy that they might move so fast. I mean, the main reason the whole dating to marriage process takes so damn long in the first place is because it takes a few months just to figure out if the person is who they say they are! (I don't know about you, but I've had a few real lyin' sons of bitches in my dating past. ) If you've already got the basic trust part figured out as friends, then you are easily months ahead of any other new couple when you start messing around romantically. I like this method of hyperspeed. And trust me, if I could have stomached it with any of my guy friends over the years, I would have (no offense guy friends!).

Nonetheless, I can't really decide how I feel about their decision to move so fast into cohabitation. But what the f*ck does it matter what I think about it anyway!? They are both incredibly nice people who want the same thing at the same time - a serious relationship quickly leading to marriage, family etc. I say, praise a miracle when you see one. Hallelujah!

And then there's me and Wine Guy. We were chugging along at a pretty acceptable medium speed for the first 8 months of our relationship (I should know since I marked just about every relationship milestone along the way in this blog). And then, around month 9, something happened that sped up our timeline just enough to take notice. It wasn't a new pet or a preexisting relationship, which explains why it didn't feel quite so shocking.

No, this trigger was more enduring and painful - surgery. The scariness of the event itself, combined with a painful recovery that required from him a great deal of compassion, generosity of his time and spirit, and plenty of quality time with my mother. If that didn't kick a relationship into high gear, I don't know what would.

I won't bore you with the sappy stuff again (mostly because you can read it all by reviewing my January/February 2008 entries), but I will summarize by saying that I went in to the hospital convinced that Wine Guy would get tired of dealing with my pain and dump me, and came out of the experience 8 weeks later even more in love with him and an agreement that we would move in together sometime in the next few months. I just hope that our next relationship growth spurt will be caused by something that doesn't hurt as much. Like a puppy.


February 21, 2008

Man Repellant

Last night I returned to where it all began with Wine Guy ten months ago - a singles wine tasting night at a local wine bar. I went with Mendoza Line and Bubbly, another single friend (who is, yes, very bubbly in personality). Contrary to WG's teasing, I did not go to scope out the men and see if I could find anything better (quote from WG: "You're going to see that it's a buyer's market"). Nope, I went for the female companionship and -if I want to be totally honest - the free food (of which there was plenty).

I have to admit that it was a bit surreal to be at a singles event and not be "on the prowl." In fact, I just couldn't separate myself from the experience I'd grown so familiar with over the years. When we first arrived, I was the one spending a few minutes thinking through where we should sit that would be most advantageous for engaging the often timid men in conversation (turns out I was dead wrong - shocker!).
Though I put my back to the entrance so the eligible men would see my beautiful friends first, I still spent most of the time at the table peering around the room trying to strategize. I even went so far as to use my crutches as an excuse and asked Mendoza to get my glass of wine for me so she would mingle (yes, I'm a bit of a yenta).

I was impressed with the turnout, especially since the last time I was there it was about 90% women. This time the place was teeming with well-dressed men of all types. There were a few that really stood out, but I was hardly tempted. Something about their "peacock" shirts and overly self-conscious strutting made me long for my torn t-shirt wearing boyfriend who was probably sitting at his computer just a few minutes drive from here.

After two hours of catching up with my friends and sipping wine, we still hadn't talked to one man. Wait, I'm wrong. Bubbly chatted up a guy while waiting in line for wine but returned empty handed (well, she had her wine but no man).

I had a feeling that I was to blame for this man drought. Although my intentions were to be the wing girl and help my friends out, I suspected that my "I'm not really single" vibe was spraying some sort of man repellant all over the table. I'm sure the sexy "I just had hip surgery" crutches didn't help either.

So I decided to head home and hoped Mendoza and Bubbly would not follow my lead. I was relieved when they both decided to stay for another drink and I hobbled my man repellant ass outta there.

I was feeling a little out of sorts from the experience, so I decided to stop by WG's place on the way home just as a little reminder. As I suspected, he on the computer working on the website that he hopes to launch as his own business in the next year. He'd been really struggling with it since I met him, but in the last two weeks he found the inspiration he'd been looking for and is finally getting it off the ground. He was clearly buzzed with excitement. Even though I came to him hoping for some cuddling and romance, I could see he was in full on computer geek mode and wanted to talk. So I let him spout computer speak at me (none of which I understood) and tell me all about his ideas for the next hour.

If you recall, he's been a bit down lately, so even though I didn't understand most of what he was saying, I was thrilled to see him so excited and inspired. I guess in the relationship world, that is another form of romance isn't it? Seeing the person you love happy.

I headed home about two hours later and as I walked in my apartment I got a text from Mendoza telling me that she gave a guy her number! Smiling, I called her back within seconds demanding details. Soon after I left the bar, a handsome man approached her and said in a French accent, "I had to come over and talk to you because I think you are quite attractive." Direct, to the point and they hit it off. She also informed me that Bubbly resumed her conversation with the guy from the line and that by the time Mendoza decided to leave, they were still heavy in conversation.

So apparently my man repellant theory might hold a little water, eh? Perhaps I will leave the singles nights to the single girls and spare them my bad man vibes. It's weird to think that I'm "not single" because I've learned my lesson in the past not to count the chickens too soon. But I guess that's where a little faith and a lot of love come in to play.

Let's send some positive dating vibes (in French perhaps?) to Mendoza Line and Bubbly!


February 19, 2008

This Open House Is Now Closed

Since I've been homebound the last 6 weeks, I've indulged in a lot of frustrating channel surfing. You know the drill - 80+ channels and nothing's on. Unless, of course, you prefer game shows that take no skill, b-list celebrities making asses out of themselves, crime shows, talking head pundits that just scream at each other, or various forms of celebrity stalking disguised as "news."

At one time or another, I did probably enjoy one or all of these genres of television. But that was before I had many painkiller-numbed hours to waste in front of the TV post surgery. After two weeks of this, I realized that most of what was on TV made me want to jump off a building out of despair for a society now dead. (If you haven’t seen the movie Idiocracy, please do because it demonstrates - in a hysterical way - what I'm talking about.)

OK, I digress. The point of this entry was supposed to be about the TV channel that has lured me in to a point of obsession. I can (and do) leave it on for hours at a time and will just watch, and watch, and watch.....It's become an addiction. So much so that after an incident this weekend, Wine Guy has asked me to "cut down" on watching it. So what is this evil, corrupting channel? HGTV of course.

I first started off years ago watching TLC's decorator programs like Trading Spaces (mostly because I thought Ty Pennington was the hottest thing I'd ever seen. But please know this was long before the hokey Extreme Home Makeover show, his job as a Sears spokes-hole, or his scary, skinny phase). But this was a habit I could easily keep in check because TLC airs all kinds of other crap I can't stand in between (particularly all those sappy baby shows which make me want to jump off of a high-altitude aircraft instead of a mere building).

But recently I discovered that my channels went even higher than I thought. And that's when I found HGTV, which is essentially 24/7 (excluding overnight infomercials) of only the good stuff (including carpenters far hotter than Ty Pennington).

And it’s not just the artsy design stuff I like. In fact, I'm not all that girly when it comes down to it. When I lived with Only Child, I happily let him be the design visionary (his theme was anything "Spanishy"). Nope, I like the channel's whole package. The shows that deal with color, organization, landscaping, home purchasing, home selling, wallpapering, whatever they dish out.

I also love the personalities - whether it's the Midwestern couple with the "country kitchen" design sensibility, the uptight urban gay couple ready to move to the suburbs, the too perky designer paired with the scruffy yet huggable carpenter, or the spoiled 27 year old who very mistakenly thinks she can buy a brand new condo downtown for $200K. Whatever it is, each show is tasteful, not too noisy or overly edited and usually only 30 minutes. What more could I ask for?

So what's the problem? It's screwing with my patience levels -that's what. Seeing all these couples playing house makes me want to jump ahead to cohabitation with Wine Guy starting tomorrow. There are so many adorable houses for rent around town now that the real estate market is crap and everyone is renting out the homes they just can't sell. I can just picture Wine Guy and me in an adorable 2 bedroom cottage near the beach with a yard for the dog I have yet to get but already have picked out in my head (a Shiba Inu named Sake if you're wondering).

Just this weekend we went for a drive along the coast and I made him stop at every Open House sign "just for fun." Luckily Wine Guy likes to look at properties almost as much as I do so he didn't seem to mind. But as I got more and more excited about the places we saw, he eventually made the not so helpful suggestion that perhaps I should "cut back on that HGTV."

And to answer the question, yes we have talked about moving in together but we both agree that it is a) not quite the right time for us financially and b) we should be as close to "engaged" as possible - if not actually engaged -before we do so.

Basically, HGTV is giving me a bad case of "The Shoulds."
1. We should be living together.
2. We should have enough money to actually buy something (we don't).
3. We should be thinking about our design sensibility as a couple, not whose house we are sleeping at tonight.
4. We should not be throwing our money away on rent.
5. [Insert foot stomping, temper tantrum tone here] It should be my turn to have what I want already!!

Judging by the people featured on these shows and the ads that run between them, I can see the demographic HGTV is aiming at - upwardly mobile 30-something couples with money to spend and a healthy lust for MORE STUFF to justify their existence. Well, that ain't Wine Guy and me - both the money to spend and the healthy lust (well, a slight sickly lust maybe :-). We aren't materialistic people and don't ask for much. But even with a crappy housing market, San Diego home prices are still way out of our range.

I am fully aware that most of what I say here is a bunch of bullsh*t whining. I hope you will believe me when I say that in my normal, non blog-venting life, I'm actually pretty happy with how things are going. Not just with what I have (great friends, a solid relationship, my mom, a job I like, a cat I adore, my health, etc.), but with who I am (someone I like a hell of a lot more than I did ,say, 10 or even 5 years ago). But that's the whole point of this post. After a few episodes of "Designed to Sell," "HouseHunters,"Hidden Potential," "Property Virgins," or "Divine Design," I seem to turn into this whiny brat who feels entitled to property ownership.

I guess now that I think about it (and re-read this entry), I just proved that their advertising/programming model is working:
Make 'em want more, more, MORE! Even if they didn't know they wanted it in the first place!

So, I suppose I have to boycott HGTV - at least for a little while. It should be a lot easier now that the damn writer's strike is over. Maybe in the near future, when/if I am ready to have a place of my own, I can travel that far up the dial again to get some helpful tips. In the meantime, perhaps someone will come up with a channel for renters (call it LeaseTV). How about these shows? "Landlord Nightmares, "I Need Laundry Quarters," "Unleased," "Ikea or Bust," and "Pets Negotiable."

Thanks for listening. Dismissed.

February 14, 2008

Casualties of V-Day

Ahhh, there's nothing like a forced Hallmark holiday to dredge up memories of failed past relationships, put unnecessary pressure on current relationships, and cause melancholy for those who happen to be unattached on February 14. I've been a casualty of Valentine's Day in each of these ways, and I'm sure you have as well.

Let's start with dredging up memories of failed past relationships, shall we? Easy enough for me, especially since I just got off the phone with one of them - Only Child. As cheezy as it is, our "anniversary" (the day we made our relationship officially exclusive by half-jokingly drafting up a relationship contract) is on Valentine's Day. Let's see, if we were still together, it would be our 8th year.

Our tradition was to "renegotiate" our contract. We even had a draft tacked up on the bulletin board when we lived together. The idea was that we would review it each anniversary, revise it as we saw fit, and then reaffirm our commitment by signing the document and pledging another year. It was all a joke of course, but deep down, we all know there is some truth in everything - especially for women. This was as close as I could get to an "official commitment" from Only Child and I tried to pretend it meant something. But it didn't (and neither did the marriage proposal, setting a wedding date, buying a dress and putting a deposit on a reception hall). Now he and I are friends who can laugh about our busted relationship and wish each other a happy V-day with our significant others. But that took a few years.

The worst part of Valentine's Day is, of course, the ridiculous amount of pressure the holiday puts on current relationships - new and well established. When I was younger, I resented the hell out of the day. Probably because I was deeply entrenched in my Unavailable Dirtbag phase. This consisted of dating guys I liked to describe as "blank walls"; they were pretty much there for me to project my own emotions onto - otherwise they contributed virtually nothing to the relationship -- and I liked it that way. Let's just say I wasn't all that emotionally healthy back then.

But this phase of mine makes for some entertaining Valentine's memories, particularly when I think back to my Senior year in college fling with Allman (named for his hairy resemblance to Greg Allman - long blonde hair, pork chop sideburns and a goatee. I know it sounds gross, but this was the height of the grunge era and he was actually quite handsome under all that hair). Allman was a big time stoner. He was so "laid back" that sometimes you wondered if he was there at all. But I had unusual access to him that no one else did (or so I liked to think) so it felt "special" to me. He was actually quite sweet, a talented musician (though too shy to play in front of others), peaceful (always walked away from a fight - which I loved), and very smart (this was an Ivy League school after all, and they don't give stoner scholarships).

But our "relationship" was a joke. As nice as we both were, neither of us was in any place to be building any sincere connection. Try as I might to get him to "talk" about how he felt about us, I was always a little relieved deep down when he successfully danced around the issue. Instead we just "hung out" (a legitimate relationship status that seemed to only exist during college - am I right?). His frat house window was across the street from my dorm and we would talk on the phone every day while leaning out of our windows and making distant eye contact across 112th street. We met up at the bars, smoked up in his loft, and generally avoided anything more serious.

And then came Valentine's Day 1994. By this point I had given up on trying to establish something official with Allman. But when V-day comes around, you can't help but face all those annoying questions again. I'd never had a boyfriend on Valentine's Day and had no idea what to expect if I did - let alone with a guy that didn't even fit into any proper "boyfriend" category.

So instead of talking about it, making plans, or even agreeing not to make a plan at all, guess what we did? We completely ignored it as if the day did not exist. And I don't mean that we kept things status quo by still having our daily phone call or anything. No, we just both silently agreed not to speak at all that day. No phone call, no meeting up, nothing. The day was a black hole. So on February 13 we did our normal thing. On February 15 we did our normal thing. And on February 14 we both disappeared. And we never once acknowledged it, even after the fact. Now that is either the most dysfunctional thing I've every experienced, or quite possibly brilliant.

When I consider my present situation with Wine Guy (10 months together, our first V-day), I think about how far I've come towards being a healthy person capable of real intimacy. But, alas, the pressure that I allow this day to put on my relationship still stands proud. I want to not care - and God knows Wine Guy wishes I wouldn't. But when you get that "What are you and [Wine Guy] doing for Valentine's Day?" question, I get all nervous like we are supposed to do something or there is something wrong with our relationship. So we decided to have dinner (early before the rush) and go to a movie - something we rarely do.

I also made him a wonderful gift. Normally I avoid V-day gifts and just propose the day as an opportunity to spend time together. But the fact is that I have a LOT of spare time since I'm still on disability, and I wanted to do something special for him to thank him for all his wonderful support during my recovery. So I made a customized recipe binder for him that I know he will love (and I hope he doesn't read this before I give it to him).

And the final emotional toll that Valentine's Day takes on many of us - causing melancholy among the unattached. The vast majority of my Valentine's Days have fallen into this category. Well, the unattached category anyway. I always tried very hard not to be melancholy about being alone on V-Day. Actually, now that I think about it, Valentine’s Day was probably the one day of the year when I didn't feel sad about not having a significant other. Why would I want to inflict all this awkward, forced romanticism on my boyfriend or myself anyway? And why does Hallmark get to tell me when to "feel love?"

Wine Guy suggested (as most men probably wish they could) that we agree in the future not to acknowledge the day at all. My gut says, "Hell yes!" And I will probably agree to it in the future. But this year, I just couldn't do it. I admit I have a conformist spirit and I just couldn't look my mom in the eye and say, "Wine Guy and I did absolutely nothing for our first Valentine's Day together." But today is our last first Valentine's Day, so perhaps I can find the strength to rebel in the years to come.

Enjoy your day - whatever you do or don't do.


February 8, 2008

Working Overtime

I've had some pretty depressing set-ups in my dating past, but none of them top Book Guy (BG). He is a colleague of a girlfriend of mine (the female half of The Coracle - introduced here) who had been talking him up to me for months. He had all the qualifications: Jewish, smart, funny, just self-published his own book, nice, etc.

This was in early 2007, when I had decided that, if I was going to find a worthwhile man to possibly marry, dating was going to have to be my second job. This meant I had to work long hours on the computer exchanging emails with potential suitors and proactively participating in networking events like speed dating, singles parties and set-ups through friends. Too bad this second job doesn't really pay the bills (if you don't count the times when the guy picks up the tab).

Over the weeks since she brought it up to me, I followed up with Mrs. Coracle several times to see if/when this set-up would happen (I am equally persistent at my paying job, thank you). But by the time she approached BG, he informed her that he had started dating someone. Typical. You snooze, you lose.

I kept on my search and quickly grew frustrated with dating -- yet again. Which is exactly why I started this blog - to vent. I quickly began having much more fun bitching about my dates on-line than actually going on them. So to make my second job more tolerable, I decided to take on a third job by trying to get my blog out there as much as possible through links, other writers, etc. At the very least, it gave me some sort of motivation to go on these damn dates in the first place.

Sometime in March, Mrs. Coracle invited me to a party. Not just any party, but a book launch party for, guess who, Book Guy. When I asked Mrs. Coracle about his dating status, she said she thought he might still be seeing that girl but she wasn't sure if it was all that serious. In hindsight, she very likely said that just to get me to go with her.

At this point, three thoughts went through my head:
1) I never did get to see what this guy looked like, so this seems like a good time to check him out without too much awkwardness.
2) If he does still have a girlfriend that isn't all that serious, perhaps my first impression (which, I've been told, can be pretty good) can help him change his mind.
3) Romance or not, he could be a good contact for me in my budding writing career.

So I printed up some Dating Trooper business cards, made sure I looked pretty darn hot, and joined The Coracle (now both the Mr. and Mrs.) at the party.

All in all, BG was pretty cute, especially compared to most of the other Jewish guys I've met in San Diego (all eight of them). He had a proactively shaved head (perhaps BG could stand for Bald Guy then), which is fine with me, and he had a great smile. Plus, I loved seeing how ambitious he was to write and publish his own book (about relationships and sports no less!!!).

Nervous as I was, I approached him at the table, introduced myself as a friend of Mrs. Coracle (I'm pretty sure I saw a glimmer of recognition that I was that friend) and congratulated him on his impressive accomplishment. At that point his girlfriend came and sat down next to him. She was stunning - tall, tan, from some sexy South American country, long brown hair, and (goddamn her) a sincere smile that made you immediately not hate her.

They looked like a handsome, happy couple. There was no way I was going to be able to penetrate that with my pathetic first impression. Nor did I want to. So I decided that this awkward exchange was now nothing but a pure networking opportunity. I introduced myself to her as well, told them both about my blog (she said she had many single friends who would love it), gave them my card, and bought a copy of his book, in which he signed something painfully generic. Then I returned to my table a little depressed but proud that I had completed my work assignment for the evening.

Then it was time for Book Guy to make his speech. About 75 people were scattered around the room seated at tables and munching on fattening bar food. It seemed most of the crowd was made up of his friends and family. BG began to speak and thanked everyone for coming to support his first publishing effort.

And then, all of a sudden, he wasn't talking about his book anymore. When he asked his girlfriend to join him at the microphone, the energy in the room completely changed. He began to talk about love, dreams and the future. Then he proceeded to get down on one knee, take out a ring box, and blurt out a marriage proposal. After she enthusiastically said yes, the crowd burst into somewhat stunned applause, the couple energetically embraced, and I started to cry (I wasn't alone of course, but I was probably the only one there that didn't really know either of them). I wasn't crying from sadness or jealousy (OK, maybe a little), but mostly because it was just an absolutely beautiful, romantic moment - and I’m a chick after all. Of course, I also felt like a bit of an ass for actually thinking earlier in the evening that I might be able to turn this guy's head away from this gushing, beautiful brunette.

I went home soon after, refusing The Coracles offer to continue the festivities at another location. I needed to go home and feel just a tad sorry for myself.

I did follow up with BG by email a week later (he gave me his card in return) to congratulate him and try to make a connection with him on the writerly front. He responded back politely but generically, not picking up on my hint. So I left it at that (and gave his book away). As far as my job was concerned, this was a dead lead.

Flash forward one year later. I'm ten months into my relationship with Wine Guy and things are going just fine. Earlier this week, I met up with Mrs. Coracle and she informs me -- with a great deal of enthusiasm -- that Book Guy called off his engagement. Apparently, they moved in together soon after the engagement, only to find out that they were completely wrong for each other. It sounded like he was relieved to have gotten out of it before they pulled the trigger.

And, guess what? He immediately started asking her all about me. Am I still single? When she replies I have a boyfriend he responds, "How serious is it?" Perhaps he also thinks he could turn my head if only he had the chance. Granted, Wine Guy is no tall, stunning South American, but he's pretty darn lovable nonetheless. Perhaps I can invite BG to our engagement party?


February 6, 2008

Things to Be Happy About

I have several things to be happy about today (none of which have anything to do with Super Tuesday - or Super Martes as I like to call it after a few minutes of watching Univision’s election coverage last night).

1. I'm moving back to my apartment this afternoon after 4 1/2 weeks of post-surgery recovery at my mom's house. When I stopped at my apartment the other day to pick something up, I burst into tears. Clearly I'm homesick and can't wait to sleep in my own bed. I'm surprised to say that my cat Applebutt may not be as excited to return home as I imagined. She's adjusted pretty nicely to the additional space at my mom's place and even kind of developed a "I'll tolerate you because you are slightly interesting" relationship with my mom's dog.

2. Yesterday was my first day behind the wheel, which means a whole new level of freedom! If only I didn't have to get out of the car and crutch everywhere, which is thoroughly exhausting. Drive-thrus are now my friend (and by the way, I am surprised and somewhat horrified to admit that I highly recommend McDonald's new Angus Deluxe burger)

3. I woke up this morning feeling like something was just different. I sat up and got out of bed only to realize that I had just lifted my left leg up and over the edge of the bed without any pain and/or assistance. My thigh muscle is back! Before today it just plain wouldn't move no matter how hard my brain told it to - a very strange sensation. This means I can get dressed without the assistance of a "dressing stick" and can get into my car without physically lifting my leg with my hands. Well, I haven't explored its limits yet, but I'm hoping.

4. Yesterday was the 1-year anniversary of this blog. Woohoo! Who knew I had such follow-through? Well, the ridiculousness of life helps, doesn't it? There has been a suggestion or two that I change the title to "Relationships are Warfare" since I met Wine Guy only two months after I started writing. But I don't know. Dating to me is a larger concept relating to courtship and this relationship is still about courting the idea of "Is he The One I'm going to marry?" (Sorry to be so stereotypically female, but that IS what I'm going for here). If that happens, then I'll consider changing the title. What do you guys think? Any suggestions?


February 4, 2008

Weighing Him Down?

I've worked very hard over the years to rid myself of my innate pessimism. Since I was a kid, I walked around with a deep-rooted belief that I was "cursed"; that good things happened to everyone else but me. This of course came out during therapy and, for the most part, I've addressed that ridiculous belief and put it to rest. Now, if I get good feedback on a work project or a school assignment, I don't make excuses for my success like, "They didn’t really get a chance to look it over thoroughly." Instead I actually have the audacity to say, "I worked hard, did an excellent job and was recognized for it. Cool!"

When it comes to my relationships, I'm better too, though far from cured. I don't suspect I ever will be cured entirely (who is?), but I've come far enough that I can allow myself to meet a quality man, fall in love with him, let him fall in love with me, and hope for a wonderful future.

There is, however, one area where my "cursed" belief still lingers. I'd be happy to get rid of it, but so far it just keeps proving itself to me. What is it? It's going to sound stupid to you, but here goes: When a man enters into a relationship with me, he begins to experience a "down" period - a rut - where he is unhappy in work, his appearance, his place in the world. Our time together may be good overall, but a lot of it consists of me helping him through these feelings. Sometimes I even convince them to go to a shrink. Then we break up, usually mutually, and we both move on. Except he usually moves on to a new period of happiness, enlightenment, and peace that I helped him find. Nice, huh?

I'm not exaggerating. This has happened to me enough times that I'm starting to think that either a) I am a weight that brings men down or b) I was put on this Earth to help men better themselves for the benefit of everyone but me.

Want examples? Here are just a few:
1) Dawson - I met him through J-Date after my first breakup with Only Child. He lived in LA (I was in SD) and was successful in the entertainment biz (yes, he worked on Dawson's Creek) and was pretty cute, smart, funny/neurotic in a Woody Allen sort of way, owned a house in Westwood, and was into me. We had a few terrific dates and makeout sessions and, as is typical with me, started delving into deep conversation. During one of these talks, which turned out to be our last, his far-too realistic Woody Allen side came out when he confessed the unbelievable depth of his neuroses and dysfunctionality in relationships.It was hard for him to talk about and I was supportive and offered advice that eventually led him to begin seeing a therapist. I heard from him via email one more time and he thanked me profusely for my help and wished that we might meet again in the future when he's "better." nice of me. Single again.

2) SoHo Chic - OK, he wasn't my boyfriend, but he was definitely the first man I had a psychological relationship with (including my Dad since he died when I was 5 and I barely remember him). He was my boss in the first job I took out of college. He was a professional commercial photographer and I was hired to run the daily operations of his immaculately decorated studio located in the middle of, you guess it, SoHo. SoHoChic was European, young, cocky, wealthy and one of the cheapest people I've ever met. Being completely naive, I took the job without realizing just how little money $19K/year was (with no health insurance either). I was just excited that this cool, successful photographer wanted me to run his business!

Of course, in hindsight, it's so obvious why he wanted me. I was inexperienced and dumb enough to accept the pittance of an offer, but smart enough to figure the job out on my own without doing too much damage. I worked there for a year and a half and I can assure you, if you called him up today (if you can get him on the phone now that he is tremendously successful and busy again), he will agree that those 18 months were the worst of his life, both professionally and personally. The jobs that used to roll in based upon his artsy still life work were drying up in favor of human subjects, his effort to move into filmmaking was turning into a big flop, and the sizeable loan from his dad was coming due. Personally, his psycho, starf*cker girlfriend was making his life miserable, especially since she knew he was cheating on her (she would call me at the office begging for me to tell her who he was cheating with). He eventually proposed to her, only to call it off a short time later. I was put in charge of telling everyone that the wedding was off and cancelling all the reservations. Nice.

I eventually quit and gave up on NYC entirely. He hired a much more qualified (and higher paid) replacement who was far less naive than me. She quit after two months of his crap. By then I had figured things out, so when he called me in California begging me to come back until he found another sucker, I agreed, but only for a ridiculous amount of money and paid airfare. As sweet as that was (I earned enough money from that to buy my car and move to LA), about one year later I called to say hi and was informed that not only did he successfully transition to fashion photography and was as busy as ever, but he had met the woman of his dreams, married her, and had a kid on the way. He was jovial, shockingly humble and even somewhat apologetic for the nightmare year and a half I endured with him when he had clearly "lost his way." So glad I could help.

I'd like to believe I'm not a weight that drags people down, so I'm going to have to choose the latter option -- that I'm put here to help them. Actually, it's probably more that I tend to find myself attracted to people who show vulnerability and need help. I guess I'm a "fixer." That sucks because sometimes I like to be fixed too.

Why bring this up? Well, without going into too much about WG's personal life, he's been feeling a bit down, on and off these last few months. It's hard when someone you think of as incredible, wonderful, handsome, smart, and inspiring doesn't see these qualities in themselves. You can't convince them otherwise. All I can offer is advice and solutions. And I don't think he wants either of those things right now.

Then I remember what he was like when I first met him. I know, I know...he was putting on his finest performance to impress a new girl. But still, he seemed much more inspired by life, work, fitness, books, etc. than he seems to be now. Everyone is allowed down time. God knows I have it all the time. But I can't help but look back at my pattern and think, "Is it me? Could WG be better without me?" I'd like to think the answer is "No" and keep reminding myself that this is just my bullsh*t childhood "curse" trying to rear its ugly head again. I guess it's time I stop believeing in curses, huh?