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

March 28, 2008

Inventory

Ever since Wine Guy and I decided to move in together I'm paying a lot more attention to my belongings. And to his too. We own way too much stuff and when you lump it together that makes two of everything. Like just about everyone, we need to pare down. Which can be a good thing I know, but the question looms - whose stuff makes the cut?

Last night we were sitting on the couch and the subject came up yet again, harmlessly at first.

Me: "I need to make a list of all the stuff I want to sell on Craig's List in the next few weeks."

Him: "Yeah, like the TV stand."

This one I agree with, but immediately I can feel both of our eyes wandering in some sort of race to see what else will be declared a losing piece of furniture. I jump first.

Me: "I like my table. We should keep the table."

Him: "It's too old fashioned looking. Mine is more modern."

Me: "Yours is boring. I want mine."

Awkward pause, and we move on.

Me: "But the coffee table and side tables are good. We should keep those."

And on we go. This happens a lot nowadays. To be honest, I don't care all that much. Almost everything I own furniture wise is a hand-me-down from Only Child anyway. I'm happy to start fresh and build a home that's "ours" with Wine Guy. But if this is true (it is), then why do I think so much about what I don't want to give up? Then it occurs to me and, in my typical blabbermouth fashion, I say it to Wine Guy just as I think it.

"You know, the only reason I think about all this is because I worry that if we ever broke up, I would have nothing left."

Judging by the look on his face and the time he took to reply, I don't think this thought had crossed his mind.

"You can have my stuff if that happens."

"But do you think that's going to happen?"

"Uh, I wasn't planning on it, no."

Now I feel bad, but this is an important realization for me. Why am I walking around deep down assuming we will break up? That this whole relationship 'next step' is really yet another false start, another joke played on me?

Wine Guy calls me on it, "You know, if you walk around thinking these negative things, you could end up manifesting them. Making them happen."

Normally I would be defensive and deny, deny, deny. But something about his tone, the quiet night, the comfort of it all....I actually heard what he said. And I got it.

"You're right."

So I am going to focus on letting go (oh yeah, that was my New Year's motto wasn't it?). Not just of my dining room table and my desk but my deep rooted fears and beliefs that this relationship will fail. Can a born pessimist change? Damn, I hope so. Wish me luck.

Dismissed.

March 23, 2008

My First Jew

Every month my alumni magazine arrives in the mail. It isn't usually a joyous occasion. I tend to compare myself (unfavorably of course) to the uber-successful types that usually write in to our class correspondent. These are the same group of overachievers I was leery of while in college - except now they also make more money than me, have a better career than me, and managed to finagle an equally successful spouse and at least one perfect child. But apparently the only thing my stingy college is generous with is free subscriptions. I don't think I could unsubscribe even if I wanted to.

So the latest edition arrived last week and, as usual, I went straight to the class notes in the back to get it over with. And there he was, seated in a picture of a smiling group of couples sprinkled with just as many toddlers on their laps. He looked happy, though chubby, just as I expected he would be. Who is this mystery man? My first Jew, that's who.

By my junior year in college I was just getting over my first real boyfriend, who had graduated and moved to Miami for law school. I wasn't quite ready to open myself up to another potential relationship of substance, but I was ready to start messing around. So, for the most part, I just "hooked up" every once in awhile. This was pretty much what happened in college (and certainly not just at mine). You went out and sometimes hooked up with someone in or near your group of friends. Sometimes it went somewhere, but usually it didn't.

Just to clarify - there wasn't actual sex involved in these hookups for me. Just messing around in an "everything but" sort of way. I'm not sure what that makes me, but it's the truth.

Anyway, after three years in NYC, I was finally getting in touch with my Jewishness (San Diego not being the most Jewish of settings) and it was starting to bother me (and my mom) that I had never dated a Jewish guy. For whatever reason, I was just never attracted to them. Perhaps it was because I was still in my jock/football player phase and there just weren't that many Jews playing offensive line. But then again, my dad (who died when I was 5) was a 6'4" basketball player and handsome - so where the hell were those guys? I asked my mom this very question and her response was not very heartening, "Well, there aren't Jewish men like that any more." So true.

I decided that if they weren't going to come to me, I was going to have to come to them. So I picked one and decided at the very least I should hook up with him. He was in my circle of friends, pretty good looking (though on the chubby end of one of his many weight cycles), and not a total asshole -although I wouldn't say he was the most trustworthy guy either. But he had one major thing going for him. He wasn't just Jewish - his dad was a Rabbi. Can't get better than that!

I don't remember all that much of the actual hookup except we were pretty wasted and I knew I wouldn't want to do it again. There was something kind of obnoxius, maybe even sleazy about him. He possessed a certain cockiness that he really didn't deserve. I suspect it's because he was one of the few Jewish guys around with sex appeal --and he knew it. But it was fun for what it was and I left his room the next morning (the dreaded walk of shame) thinking, "Well, at least I can check that off my To Do list."

Fast forward 15 years. I'm sitting at my desk sorting through the mail and there is his beaming face looking up at me from p. 62. I read the caption beneath the photo and learn that the object of my long-ago quest is no longer just the son of a Rabbi but a Rabbi himself. And married to a Rabbi (a cute blonde one at that). With two sons who I'm sure will be Rabbis too someday.

I have to admit this was the first time I read something about one of my classmates that didn't make me jealous or feel bad about myself. Nope. This one made me just remember and laugh. I got naked with a RABBI?! Cool...would that make my mom happy? Not sure that's something I should run home to tell her (of course, she reads this blog so we'll soon find out:-).

It's just pretty damn funny to think back to a time when I was ballsy enough to venture out in to the world with a hookup To Do list. At this time in my life, I had just been set free from an adolescence weighted down with sexual hangups (thanks to my first boyfriend at age 19 for putting all that to rest). So I realized I had a lot of catching up to do. Hence the To Do list which also included: Centers of the football team, redheads (I wrote about both of these here), a rich guy (here), and a few more that I have yet to share with you (to come at some point soon).

Since the Rabbi, I've added a few more Jews to my dating log, but none of them made the cut (no matter how hard I wished that they did). I guess they really don't make them like my dad anymore. Of course, it's easy to idealize a man you don't even remember isn't it?

For the record, Wine Guy is not Jewish, but he meets my alternate religion qualification - he's "nothing." (I elaborate on my religion and other "deal breakers" here if you are interested.) And as I learned during our visit to his parents' home over Christmas, they are convinced they have some Jewish roots in their family and, therefore, are intrigued by every Jewish person they meet. At first I was concerned by there amazed stares when I told his parents I was Jewish. But then his dad started gushing about his love for "the Jewish people." He even uttered the infamous statement "Many of my friends are Jewish." I chose to think it was sweet. What else could I do?

Happy Easter everyone....Dismissed.

March 17, 2008

Old Dog, New Tricks

Every once in awhile I'm able to step outside myself and suddenly be able to see right through my own bullshit.. The first time I remember this happening was when I was about 4. I have scant memory of my childhood. It's kind of pathetic. And what I do remember tends toward an intense feeling or realization more than some cute story about about my first grade teacher.

This first "stepping outside myself" memory dealt with playing board games. I was (am) quite competitive and when I lost I would get really upset, sometimes even throwing the game board across the room in frustration. Then one day - probably sparked by yet another game-inspired temper tantrum - I took an unexpected, crucial step outside myself and saw it all very clearly. I was able to acknowledge that, gee, none of the other kids seemed to get so upset. So clearly I was the one who had the problem.

So I bargained with myself and agreed to sit out playing board games and instead opted to just watch my friends play. I wanted to see how they behaved when they lost or won; gauge how not upset they got. I was sure that if I watched them enough I could figure out what they knew that I didn't.

After a few weeks, I got it. It all meant absolutely nothing. It was just a silly game. It's fine to try to win, but if you don't, nothing has really changed. That was the day I placed myself back at the edge of the table and asked if I could play. Since then, I've generally kept my end of the bargain - I am allowed to want to win really badly and try my hardest. But, if I don't, all I can do is shrug and think about what I did learn that made the experience worthwhile. Yes, I know it seems strange that a 4 year old would have the emotional discipline to pull this off, but I never said I wasn't strange, did I?!

I am convinced that this experience is why, as an adult, I tend to choose sports or hobbies that require intense mental focus and constant refining of skill and technique. I was a long jumper/triple jumper in high school and college - technique, technique, technique. Then I took up tennis - a flick of the wrist can make you or break you. But since I've been inactive these last few months because of surgery recovery, I have had nothing to occupy my mind, soak up my innate competitive spirit, drain my body of excess energy that will inevitably morph into anxiety if I don't get it out in a more constructive way. No wonder I've been feeling so restless and useless these last few weeks. Unfortunately all of the things I love to do require physical activity that I'm just not up to yet. So I either had to suffer more or learn something entirely new.

When was the last time you just picked something brand new to learn? And not something simple but something that takes months, even years, to develop and perfect. And not something that you had to learn because of a job or because your significant other does it. Something you just randomly decided, "Hey, I want to learn that." Well, I don't know about you, but I don't do this very often. All those excuses about time, money, fear - you name it, I can come up with the excuse.

Despite all of that, I decided to start knitting. I know nothing about knitting, sewing, crocheting..anything outside of safety pinning a bra strap is completely unheard of for me. I admit I'm terribly intimidated by the knitting/hand-crafted world. I am not Martha Stewart-y, nor am I ironically hip enough to be one of those "stitch and bitchers." But I'm doing it anyway.

My friend Big Sis started knitting regularly with her 20-something niece and teenage daughter and invited me over, despite my protests that I know nothing about anything to do with knitting. She gave me the old, "If I can do it, so can you" argument and I had to admit that she had a point. A single mom with two kids, working two jobs while finishing her PhD. Talk about having plenty on your plate. But she's doing it, getting better at it, and loving it.

Since I first picked up the needles one week ago, I've thought of nothing else. I bought the Stitch and Bitch book, took a trip to the popular, locally-owned knitting store and had the owner walk me through what I needed (when she asked what kind of knitter I was to gauge what size needle to start with, I responded, "Consider me an uncoordinated one.").

Tonight is meeting #2 of our unofficial Tuesday night knitting club and our group of 3 has blossomed to 8 so far. Some will come, some with go, but I for one have taken a tiny leap onto this tall ladder of learning. It's going to be a long time until I get to my goal - making an arigurumi doll - but I have promised myself to stick with it.

Til then I will just keep practicing (knitting, unravelling, knitting, unravelling). One of the things I like best about this hobby is that it finally gives me a legitimate excuse for just sitting there. A lazy person's dream!

The best part (and the one that actually has to do with this blog) is that Wine Guy picked up the needles this past weekend and, being a total perfectionist, he is now obsessed with it as well. I don't think he is as committed to actually creating something in the end, but more intently focused on knitting whatever swatch he makes PERFECTLY.

How weird is this image? Wine Guy and Trooper sitting on the sofa at 3:30am on a Saturday night (technically Sunday), completely exhausted but unable to put the needles down. And I won't even tell you what was on the TV (if you really want to know, see this post). Try as I might, I couldn't convince him to come to tonight's knitting group. He may be comfortable with his sexuality, but a roomful of 8 knitting women might be going just a little too far.

Dismissed.

March 10, 2008

It's All About Me, Isn't It?

Today is the first day that I felt like "me" in a LONG time - since January 2 to be exact. That is the day I returned home from a fantastic two week holiday road trip with Wine Guy, during which I made up my mind that he is the one for me.

On January 3 it all went to sh*t. First I contracted some sort of violent stomach flu that lasted four days, followed immediately by massive 8 1/2 hour hip surgery, and a painful 8 week recovery. Last Monday I finally returned to work, but after 3 days of frantically trying to catch up, I contracted an even worse violent stomach something-or-other that sent me to the ER, made my right eye swell up to a slit from too much retching, and put me out of commission until yesterday. The only good thing I can squeeze out of all this is that I am now highly confident in Wine Guy's nursing skills and patience levels.

But today.....ahhh, today. I went to work with a barely recognizable spring in my step (as much spring as one can have while walking with a cane) and actually functioned with some level of enthusiasm and competence. Heck, I even enjoyed a good old bicker with our overly sensitive Romanian receptionist. After work I actually exercised (not the tennis I really crave, but "running" laps at a beautiful pool swarming with perfectly sculpted 21-year old water polo players on a sunny San Diego day ain't so bad). Then I visited Target for a leisurely browse session (found a bathing suit, my first one piece since I was 10), picked up my favorite take out Chinese food, and came home to sip a beer and relax. Normal life has never felt so good. Yay me!

Beyond all that, I'm not feeling much like "composing" a blog entry (believe it or not, I do try to write something thoughtful). Instead I thought I would respond to two tags I've recently received from Nicole at SAHM Ramblings and Melissa at Cords and Fleece.

I've been tagged twice before and revealed all kinds of stuff, from the starstruck to the mundane. Check them here (tag #1) out here (#2). But here's a few more random facts if you're interested. Enjoy!

1) I broke four records in Track & Field during my one year stint as a college athlete. They're still on the books and usually come up as one of the first search items when you Google my name. Actually, it sounds more impressive than it is since my alma mater had only been co-ed for ten years by the time I arrived. Growing up in Southern California, we had several Olympians on my track team alone and I was hardly considered a standout. So I didn't even believe my coaches when they ran up to me after my event and excitedly announced, "You just broke the record!" I responded, "Well, this school sucks!" Oh, to be so full of teenage 'tude again!

2) I once hooked up with a guy just because I thought he looked like Richie Cunningham. Yes, I am one of the few women who likes red-headed men. Or I did until this experience. He was British and a complete ass (insert British accent on this word please, "ahhhss"). Once he got to my apartment, I realized I made a mistake. I was timid and not assertive enough to tell him to leave, so I just rolled over and hoped he'd just get the hint and leave. Instead, he proceeded to quietly and brazenly jack off against my back. I lay there in utter horror with this awful slapping sound filling the room. When he was done I told him to please leave. I vaguely remember him acting terribly put out and mumbling something about how American girls are so "strangely aggressive" and always have such nicely shaved legs. Ewwwwww.

3) I have three older siblings. All of them were adopted (as infants). I was not adopted. I am also the only one of the four of us with a high school diploma, a clean criminal record and, ironically, a tattoo.

4) My two most hated places in the world are groceries stores and malls. Sometimes I doubt my womanhood.

5) My "type" of guy used to be huge football players. We're talking linemen. When I was 15 I made out with the 21 year old, 6'8" center for the USC football team (by the time I was 17 I realized how disgusting that was) and I lost my virginity to the center for my college football team. (OK, so maybe I just liked centers.) Sometime in my early 20s my tastes changed (or maybe the linemen just got fat) and I became drawn to skinny, tattooed druggie looking guys. Now I love nerds - and yes, Wine Guy is one.

6) There once was a generally believed rumor in my hometown that I was dead. It was spread by a (now former) high school friend 3,000 miles away who, it turns out, was a pathological liar. She used my "funeral" as part an elaborate lie (there were many) that set the stage for her surreptitious trip to visit a guy in New York - a guy who was not her boyfriend in California. She didn't intend for the lie to get around, but one of the people she told, told a friend who happened to know me. She told her dad who just happened to have been my high school English teacher - and on it went. It didn't help that my phone in NYC had been disconnected at the time (paying that bill wasn't always easy) so no one could get a hold of me. When I called home on Thanksgiving from a corner payphone, my 4 year old niece answered and said "Aunt [Trooper], everyone thinks you're dead." Happy Thanksgiving, huh? (For the record, I am very much alive.)

7) And finally....Of the many reasons why I want to move in with Wine Guy, one of the biggest is that my telephone talking time will be drastically reduced. I am a firm believer in the say-what-you-gotta-say-then-get-off-the-damn-phone philosophy. Wine Guy is not. He would be happy to call me every two hours to "say hi" if he knew I wouldn't get annoyed after the second call. I try very hard not to let my annoyance come out in my voice because I realize it is kind of nice to have a boyfriend who wants to stay connected. But, as I've said before, I have no ability to be subtle (a Sagittarian quality I've been told). So when I feel annoyed - even irrationally annoyed - I am quite obvious about it. I look forward to a whole new list of things to be annoyed about when we finally live down the hall instead of down the street from each other.

So that's more about me than you would ever want to know. Normally there are rules associated with tags. I followed all of them except the last two since I've already reached out and tagged fellow bloggers the first two times. But just in case you're wondering, here they are:
1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post THE RULES on your blog.
3. Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.
4. Tag 7 people and link to them.
5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

Dismissed.

March 4, 2008

Text and Makeup

I'm not going to lie to you -- Wine Guy and I fight. I don't write about our fights very often (and if I do, not in much detail) because it wouldn't be fair to WG since he can't present his side of the story. And since my friends, some coworkers and my mom read this blog pretty regularly, I try to keep anything that would cause any real friction between any of these parties to a minimum.

I don't think we fight any more than most "normal" couples. But, when we are in the thick of a skirmish, I tend to be the type that assumes the relationship must be over. When I had my first big fight with Only Child (my first serious relationship) I became absolutely hysterical in tears because I was sure this meant we were doomed. Once he realized why I was overreacting (he was a relationship veteran at that point), he explained that fighting between couples is normal and doesn't necessarily mean we're breaking up. I recall an episode of "Friends" when Chandler (a relationship novice like me) had a similar reaction to his first fight with Monica. Don't you just love it when your life can be reduced to a sitcom character's?

Thank God I've grown since those early Only Child days and can endure a fight with only minor hysteria. I think if you asked Wine Guy, his biggest complaint about my fighting technique would be the volume of my voice. I come from a family that yelled a lot, and without much provocation. It wasn't the most peaceful of households and I think I developed the very bad habit of raising my voice whenever I got frustrated. Actually, I tend to raise my voice when I get excited too. This is one of the main things I would like to change about myself because it's a) obnoxious and b)a guarantee that a minor disagreement will escalate into an all-out fight. If there's one thing I've learned from my relationship past, MEN DO NOT LIKE BEING YELLED AT - especially by a chick. Gee - who would have guessed that?

But Wine Guy has his own bad habits when it comes to fighting. What first comes to mind is ultra typical of men in general. At least I think it is -you tell me. He simply shuts down. It almost seems like he's sinking into himself. This is when my fighting style becomes particularly troublesome because eventually I will cross the line with whatever blather is coming out of my mouth at a high volume and he will finally just leave, usually right after he lets out one big, verbal explosion. Sometimes he comes back, but even when he does, he still pretty much has little to say. If this is typical of many men, it seems to be just one more example of how men and women can seem so fundamentally incompatible. It's a miracle we end up together at all.

So Wine Guy and I have some bad fighting habits. But our make-up habits are where we truly shine like no other relationship I've had before. Sorry people, I'm not talking about make-up sex here (another subject I tend to avoid in detail). This good habit endures far longer than a roll in the hay. I've learned that the quicker we get to Wine Guy storming out and us going to our separate corners to cool off, the sooner we will get to the good part - communication and genuine understanding. This is when I love him the most.

He'll go home and I'll sulk on the couch. Then I'll hear the muffled chime from the other room and hope it's what I think it is. I pick up my cell phone and there it is - a text message. Normally I am anti-text messaging for any matter of substance and the first time I got a post-fight text from Wine Guy I was irked. But it's hard to be irked when someone sends you a few lines of thoughtful text that perfectly resolve everything. In just three short sentences he is able to astutely sum up the unspoken baggage beneath the fight (because, of course, the fight is usually about something surface-y but really, deep down about something else), then take ownership of his part in the fight, credit me for whatever good point(s) I made, tell me he loves me, and finally, wish me a good night's sleep.

My heart melts instantly. And not because he takes all the blame. Actually quite the opposite. We are both the kind of people that instructively blame ourselves whenever we get the chance, so I immediately reply to his text saying that no, it was my fault because of whatever it was that I did wrong. Then I thank him for his generous thoughts, tell him I love him, and wish him a good night's sleep.

By the time I check email the next morning, he has sent me an even kinder message that puts it all to rest. I reply and then we proceed with our love affair - until the next fight. What I like most about these little rituals is that each time they happen, we learn more about each other and our bond grows just a little more. Unlike with some of my past relationships, we aren't having the same fight over and over and over again. Instead, we are on a forward moving path and hitting small obstacles and speed bumps along the way. So far, none have been substantial enough to put us out of commission.

Now that we've decided to "shack up," I do worry that we won't have our separate corners to go to and cool down. I can't imagine him storming out of the living room, walking down the hall and feeling distanced enough from the fight to text me from the bedroom. It just seems silly. So I'm keeping an eye out for a house that's big enough to accommodate good makeup text. Either that or stop fighting entirely. But what are the odds of that?

Dismissed.