Sunday, May 29, 2011


I watched "Blue Valentine" the other night and it got the ol' cogs turning in my head. If you haven't watched it, I do recommend it. However, I recommend it with the caveat that you will probably be at least a little depressed by it. Oddly, it was refreshing for that very reason. The film industry (for the most part) has an annoying habit of taking the realness out of reality. The questions tend to not be difficult, the answers are absolute, and everyone walks away satisfied. "Blue Valentine" is definitely not that kind of movie. It's a movie about a relationship minus the fairy-tale romance aspect. It's honest and it's intimate and it really doesn't give a damn if anyone's terribly satisfied at the end. Watching the movie just brought up an age-old conversation I have with myself over the nature of romance. Yes, I have conversations with myself. Moving on...

I find that I am much more pragmatic than I was during my teenage years. This is by no means abnormal. At least, I hope it isn't. When I was a teenager, I believed in the idea of soul mates while simultaneously scoffing at the idea in public. My concept of love was intense, passionate, tragic, and certainly never anything short of dramatic. However, if that was truly the case in romantic relationships, we'd all be crying lines of eyeliner down our cheeks and writing terrible poetry 24/7. Reality has to creep in somewhere. And when it does creep in, that's when I think the true romance happens. It's easy to fall for an ideal. Ideals are shiny and beautiful and new all the time. They are what they are because you haven't obtained them, yet. The real work and the real love begins once you've obtained what you've idealized. For the purposes of this post, that ideal is your husband/wife/lover/partner.

The beginning of a relationship almost always has that butterflies-in-yer-stomach, gosh-everything's-magical aspect to it. You and the Object of Your Affection (OYA... like "oh yeahhhh"... heh) are still putting your best foot forward. You don't want your OYA to know that you snore or that you eat with your mouth open or that you save your toenails after you clip them or WHATEVER. You try to stifle the faults you're aware of and therefore present an ideal, and terribly untrue, version of yourself. However, the charade is awfully hard to keep up. Sooner of later, your OYA is going to see you picking your teeth or you're going to fart in his/her presence and the smoke and mirrors will vanish. When that happens, the real trial begins. This is when you find out what you're made of and you'd better hope there's a good foundation or you're toast.

To me, it is far more romantic to be able to look at your OYA when he/she has bed head and hasn't brushed his/her teeth and is wearing ratty old pajamas and you STILL think, "I really love this person." And the intense happiness that comes with knowing that your OYA feels the same way about you when you've spent the whole night snoring the house down and drooling all over your pillow is better than any Hollywood construct. The truth is, you will not be at your best all the time. Hell, I'm lucky if I'm at my best once a month. Scratch that and edit it to once a year. My husband is confronted with the worst of me often. He sees me when I'm hating myself and I just can't give a damn and he's still there, loving and accepting me. Screw Cinderella and Prince Charming and all of that other garbage. That love and that acceptance is what's going to see you through to your old age.

There will be drama and there will probably be tragedy in your lives but that's going to happen in between long stretches of the mundane and the routine. You will need something to sustain you through those long stretches. You will need to be able to laugh at yourselves, to recognize your faults, to be able to have arguments without falling apart, to be able to communicate and work together. You will need to be really damn good friends and have each other's backs. You will need to be able to look at your OYA at the end of a very difficult day and think to yourself that all that other bullshit isn't going to tear you apart because you have this person who will see you through it.

All of this is a far cry from my teenage perceptions of romance but it isn't unromantic, not to me. I think part of growing up is learning how to redefine things rather than abandoning them. I will never be a fairy princess or own a unicorn but I do have love in my life.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Did you know I like to whine?

I thought I would solve things. You see a problem, you search for solutions, apply them to the situation, and you fix it. If not A, then B. If not B, then C. Etcetera. It's not anything new to figure out that life is more complicated than that. However, some revelations have to be had over and over and over again. Even then they might not stick. It's not stupidity or naivete that makes the lesson hard (or impossible) to learn. I know that in my case, it's just a continued hope that keeps me making the same mistakes. I keep hoping that it'll be simpler this time and that the formula will work. Isn't there an exception to every rule, after all? I'm in the middle of the same of revelation for the umpteenth time and I know I'll find myself in the middle of it again.

What do you do when the problem is you? My problem isn't having a crappy job or having no job or having the wrong job. My problem is pretty fundamental - I am screwing up my life. It's me. Granted, I'm not doing drugs or drinking myself into oblivion. I'm not prostituting myself or robbing from people or killing people. I don't even pull the wings off of flies. There are far less dramatic yet equally damaging ways to screw up your own life. To paraphrase from a Mumford and Sons song, I haven't found an enemy bigger than my apathy. Or maybe it's fear. I suppose it's equal parts fear and apathy. I've never been ambitious out loud because I'm afraid of what I can't do. There's something about having potential that can ruin a person. As long as I never try to tap into my potential, I'll never have to find out that it's all just bullshit and I'm really not good enough. And at any given time when I could choose between making an effort or playing video games, I'll opt for the video games. That, more than anything, explains why I am splattering self-pity on the internet instead of... I don't know. Following my dreams? Pursuing my goals? Grabbing life by the balls?

I got a job because I'm a terrible stay at home mom. I wanted to be around other adults and feel like I was part of something and being productive. My job, though, has left me feeling either incompetent or enraged. I have always been a good employee. I've been able to get along with and befriend my coworkers. Here, though, I can't decide if I'm just out of my groove or if I'm working with crazy people. Am I really that awful? Are they really that awful? What the hell is going on here? My therapist told me I should quit and part of me agrees 100%, part of me is stubborn and feels like quitting would mean "they" had won, and part of me is oddly comfortable. Did you know that comfort isn't always a good thing? Now you do. Comfort keeps me in dead-end jobs. Comfort keeps me playing video games.

It's Thursday evening. I've worked 4 ten-hour days and I'm feeling a little drained. My kids are in their room, asleep. I have a glass of wine and I'm listening to music. Ironically, the song I'm listening to is "The Edge of Glory." That's funny, right? So I'm going to finish typing, finish my wine, maybe read a little or watch a little TV. Then, I'll go to bed and let myself think of who I wish I was until I fall asleep. Tomorrow, I'll start over again and hope that I can muster some enthusiasm. Yeah. I'm rolling my eyes, too.