Sunday, March 29, 2009

What Memphis is Like

Imagine that you are a young woman in the prime of your life. You have this boyfriend; he is sexy and smart and fun to be around, mostly. As soon as you met, he opened himself up to you and you could see all this amazing potential. He could be great, and you could be great by his side. The two of you have chemistry. There's just something about him that feels right to you.

You even like a lot of his friends. They're interesting and sharp and when you all hang out together, you feel so at home. You know that if you were dating some other guy, some Joe Schmoe from the office, you would never have found friends this cool. They introduce you to all this great music and they know all the best places to hear it. There's not a hole-in-the-wall or greasy spoon they haven't tried and judged, and you revel in the fruits of their searching.

He even cooks. He can make all kinds of things, but he has one dish, let's say barbecue, that is really special--the best you've ever had. Sure, maybe sometimes he gets in a barbecue rut, but even then, you have to admit it's good. It's what you want him to make when friends come over, and it's what you crave when you have to be apart.

But this guy, he has some issues. For a while you can overlook the problems--no one's perfect, right? So he's a little moody. A little bit of a slob around the house. The apartment you now share is starting to look a little shabby, especially when you compare it to your friends' places. Still, its better than what you could afford if you weren't with him. And really, you could let all of that go, every bit of it, if it weren't for this anger thing that just seems to be getting worse with every passing day.

At first you only hear about it. There's a story of how he lost it with some guy at a bar, or the office smartass. Then there will be a day now and then when he seems touchy, quick to raise his voice. After a while, it gets harder to relax around him. You're always wondering, in the back of your mind, when he's going to blow. And finally one day, it happens--he directs the full force of his anger at you. You probably didn't even do anything, just minding your own business when suddenly, Bam! He's in your face, screaming about nothing you did, and then the unthinkable happens, and he hits you.

You are stunned. Somehow, even though you knew it was happening all around you, you cannot believe this has hit home. You think about leaving, but it's so hard to wrap your mind around all the things you will lose. And even though it makes you hate yourself a little bit, you still love him. You can't forget all the good times, all the things you only feel when you're with him. You know that you won't get to keep his friends. Sure, you'll stay in touch, but it can never be the same. And you won't be able to go to the old hangouts--they're his territory. You imagine never tasting his cooking again--where will you get babrbecue that good? You look at other apartments and think of how you could fix them up, make them your own, and it all seems great, but then you go home and all your stuff is there, and your good memories, and it makes you angry that he has done this.

Why should you have to leave? Why can't he get himself together, why can't all those things you love about him be the whole story, why can't he see how perfect things would be if he would just deal with his problems? But in the end, you know that he won't. You know that you have to go. And you know, already, that you will never get over the feeling that he was the one, that it really was meant to be between the two of you, but he ruined it, and you just can't forgive him for that. You will never stop feeling angry about what could have been, the waste of it, the frustrating clarity of your vision of the man he could have chosen to become. You're young, you'll meet someone else, but you know there's some small part of yourself that you won't be able to give again, because you never got it back.

That is exactly what Memphis is like.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Okay, You're Okay

One of the things I like about reading my friends' blogs is the way their thoughts and experiences can lead me to closer contemplation of my own. For example, reading Rita's post about people's reaction to her return to martial arts classes brought me back to something I've been thinking about lately myself. And really, what good are other people if they don't provide me with a platform to talk about me, me, me?

Really, though, Rita was saying that she's gotten a lot of "you're so brave" comments, which she can't help but hearing as "wow, you look so foolish, yet you get out there in that hideous uniform anyway" (to paraphrase). Wisely she has decided to enjoy herself and not care what people think. So how does that relate to me? It's kind of complicated. I think a lot of my persona is built on th foundation of "I don't care what you think of me," and on reflection, for the most part, I find that to be true. The trouble is more with what I think of me, or if your idea of me doesn't match up to my own idea of what you are supposed to think of me. That's reasonable, right?

I know that I have a problem with taking myself too seriously. Sometimes that makes it hard for me to determine why I'm really doing or not doing something. I think there are a lot of things I don't do because in no universe can I comprehend how those things are supposed to be fun. Which wouldn't matter, except they're always things that a lot of other people think are fun, and the end result is that I come across as a curmudgeonly or stuck up or more-highbrow-than-thou. It's hard to even list specific examples because of the mental list of friends who are going to read them and say "Oh, so you think all these things that I do are stupid, huh?" Which is tricky because, while those things do seem kind of unfathomable to me, that doesn't mean I think you're dumb for doing them. Maybe that means that I'm not so much worried about me or what you think of me, but about what you think I think of you? This is getting confusing.

Suffice it to say that even if no one would ever see me or know that I had done it, I would never, ever, ever stand in my own living room and play Rock Band any more than I would ever stand in front of a bar full of strangers and sing karaoke. Just like I really and truly do not like reality TV, even though you may suspect that I secretly watch and love it but just pretend I'm "better" than that. I know that makes some of you sad for me, but really, it's okay. Because knowing that I wouldn't want to do it even if no one were watching or would ever even find out assures me that it's not about making an ass of myself. That's just not what I think is fun. So I'm okay with that. And I guess I want my Rock-Band/various-other-video-game-playing/Rock-of-Love-watching friends to be okay with that too. I won't be embarrassed for you, and you don't have to feel sorry for me for missing all the fun.

As for the American Idol thing, well, maybe we don't need to talk about that right now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dirty Santa

Genevieve has a habit of fixating on ideas and events. For a long time, she was obsessed with her birthday party. We could see a motorcycle and she'd say "I had two motorcycels at my birthday party. They were pink and purple." If she saw something she liked she would insist that she either had or would have that thing at her birthday party. Every day was about her birthday. The funny thing is, she's never even had a birthday party. My kids have their first real party when they turn five and are old enough to remember me spending that kind of money for a Spongebob cake at the bowling alley for them and their spazzy friends.

Lately, though, she has changed her focus. Christmas seems to have been the catalyst, although the effect was slightly delayed. Now it's all about the fat man in the red suit. And even though she sometimes speaks of him as a friend who is going to bring her things, she also blames him for all her injuries.

It started as Christmas approached and we tried to get Genevieve excited about Santa bringing her toys in the middle of the night. Without fail, she would insist that Santa was going to punch her in the stomach. I have no idea where my two year old got the mental image of a jolly old elf sneaking into her room in the dark of night to punch her in the gut as she slept, but it seemed to be firmly entrenched.

Now whenever she has a mysterious bruise or scratch, if I ask her how she got it she replies witout missing a beat "Santa hit me." Where is she getting this? Am I going to catch some stranger lurking around my house at night dressed as Mr. Clause?

Monday, March 09, 2009


I did not touch a computer all weekend. It was an unplanned break, one that happened naturally, and that's probably for the best since the minute I set a limit for myself, I will defiantly break it just to prove that I can. Such is the life of the ODD sufferer. Anyway, it was nice!

We hosted a group yard sale Saturday, since we do have plenty of yard to go around. I amused SAM and BD by taking seemingly random strangers on a spontaneous tour of the house, including my closet. Because if you come to my house, I'm showing you that closet! But they were not in fact random strangers. They were Kristen from the MOMS' board and her husband Josh and their baby girl whose name, I believe, is Ella. So there.

In other acts of gregariousness to total strangers, I introduced myself to our new neighbors and ended up sitting and chatting with them for an hour on their lovely back porch while my boys joined their boys on their trampoline. Also, last night while going through the U-Scan line at Kroger to buy exactly one tub of Cool-Whip for a terrible pie I attempted to make, I allowed two different people to use my discount card since they didn't have one. Like I do.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


I read this story on this blog this morning and it just immobilized me. It's from Bird by Bird, by Anne Lammot. I own that book but I've never read it, because she's kind of Christiany and spiritual and I tend to avoid that stuff.

Here is the best true story on giving I know, and it was told by Jack Kornfield of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre. An eight year old boy had a younger sister who was dying of leukemia, and he was told that without a blood transfusion she would die. His parents explained to him that his blood was probably compatible with hers, and if so, he could be the blood donor. They asked him they could test his blood. He said sure. So they did and it was a good match. Then they asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to donate the blood. So they took him to the hospital where he was put on a gurney beside his six-year-old sister. Both of them were hooked up to IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put in the girls' IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood dripped into his sister, until the doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and asked, "How soon until I start to die?"

Now, I know this story has some problems: why would it be blood and not bone marrow? Why would it only be a pint of blood? But still! What killed me when I read it was thinking of an eight-year-old boy making what he thought was the sacrifice of his actual life, and doing so while believing that his parents were willing to trade his life for his sister's.

I really hope that is not a true story.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Samoas and Other Mysteries of the Universe

My girl scout finally located her cookie order form and took a break from edging out the Chip-Juices to bring me my four boxes: Samoas, Trefoils, Lemon Chalet Creams, and of course, Thin Mints. This prompted a discussion on the beautiful mystery that is the Samoa. How is it that none of us likes coconut but cannot resist the luscious Samoa? We talked briefly about the new flavors but agreed that the Samoa is still Troop Leader #1.

This indisputable fact was confirmed whenI shared the fact that I was a girl scout for many years and always sold the most cookies in my troop. This was thanks to the fact that my mom worked at Methodist Hospital and would take my order form in to work with her, then bring it back with several sheets of notebook paper stapled to it and covered with orders. A girl in the class smacked her hand on the desk and said with an earnest face and a voice full of longing: "That's because Samoa's ain't no joke."