Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Forgiveness is the Attribute of the Strong.

You know Tyson Beckford? The "ridiculously good-looking" male model? I saw him cry on Oprah a few years ago. He was in a really bad hit-and-run and almost died. His car exploded, it was crazy. The crying I can understand, but one thing stuck with me. He was crying and asking, "What did I do to deserve this? Why did he do this to me?" and I just thought it was absurd. Silly model, he didn't target you. The truck driver wasn't trying to kill you. It was an accident.

Do you ever feel like you've been hit by a car?

I'm not great with conflicts. I just don't understand them most of the time because I'm not one to get upset or angry easily. I'm quick to forgive and have given more than a few people ten more chances than any sane person would have. When someone does something that upsets or hurts me, I usually never mention it. I just get over it on my own or I take a few moments of distance. I'm not passive-aggressive, though I really enjoyed Chelsea's take on that. I just don't like fighting and most of the time never see a need to do it.

I think in the past year or so I've changed in some ways. It's been almost exactly a year since my sweet grandfather passed, and I know that the experience impacted me in major ways. One change I've noticed is that...I don't even know how to put this. I tolerate less. I think that's it. I put my foot down every once in awhile even in small ways that maybe only I'm aware of. My mom got drunk last summer and told me that the reason I've always been picked on by other people is that I'm a runt. She meant it to be funny, but she's right. And I don't want to be a runt anymore.

Every time I have a conflict with anyone, I obsess about it. I overanalyze it. I try to do whatever it takes to alleviate the problem. I apologize or I allow people to explain themselves. Often both. But sometimes people don't want to work through something. That's the part I don't understand. Sometimes they just want to be mad or they want to take something small and make it mean everything.

And I guess that for them, that's what they feel they have to do. Every person has issues and problems, and none of us deal with them in the right, healthy way every time they surface. Sometimes we're all casualties on someone else's road. Sometimes it doesn't mean anything, sometimes it wasn't your fault, sometimes it wasn't about you at all. Sometimes you just get hit. Sometimes you're a mistake someone made.

I think that helps me obsess less. People move in and out of our lives for a reason, and maybe that reason is met in the mistakes or the leaving.

This weekend I'm going to spend time with someone I've had a lot of conflicts with in the past oh, 30 years. But I love her. And I want us to be close and I want us to be good friends. More than ever before, I've stood up to her in the past year. I tolerate less. But that doesn't mean that I've hardened or become unforgiving. I think unforgiving is one of the saddest faults a person can have because in the end, it means you end up with less love in your life and maybe you even end up alone. Though I approach it now with more open eyes, I'm still willing to give everyone ten more chances than any sane person would. Well...maybe nine.

"Though no one can ever go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard

* A little follow-up...I just read an article on the NY Times website about guilt and atonement. It's a short article and was very interesting. Maybe the reason I obsess so much when there's a conflict in a relationship is that I have high guilt and maybe even high effortful control. Actually I'd say that my feeling of having high effortful control contributes to my high guilt because I think I tried as hard as possible not to cause any conflict and so I feel twice as guilty and bad when there is a conflict that feels out of my control. Interesting psychoanalysis, eh? Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blogger Poll - I Want to Hear From You!

Hello, ladies! I have a question for you and am eager to hear your responses. If you blog about it, post a comment so I can check it out asap.

An ex-boyfriend that I no longer talk to has been posting comments on my blog. I think it's creepy. Is this a common experience? What do you think when this happens? How do you deal with it? I've been thinking about different things I could do in response, but then that just encourages the bastard, doesn't it? I can't wait to hear from you!

- Penny

And p.s. they're not even nice comments. They're antagonistic. And snarky. Sigh.

Hung Out to Dry

HBO’s new series, Hung, is compelling, controversial and bringing in high ratings for the network. For those of who don’t know, the plot centers on “Ray,” a high school history teacher and basketball coach. When we meet Ray, he is at rock bottom. Once the star athlete, Ray lost a promising future in major league baseball to a tragic career-ending injury. His beautiful wife left him for the class nerd, now a successful dentist, and in the pilot episode, we watch his house burn down in a tragic accident. He foolishly let the insurance lapse and has no money for the repairs so he moves into a small camping tent in his backyard. His kids move in with their mother, and he’s left desolate, broken and alone. Like many down on their luck in this rotten economy, Ray enrolls in a “get rich quick” course and makes a startling decision – he will become a male prostitute.

I first watched the program to examine how gender roles and gender traditions were portrayed. Plots centering on women who sell their bodies can widely be seen in film and television, but a man who sells himself is new terrain. The most fundamental theme about gender relations one can notice in Hung is that men and women don’t get along. Relationships are problematic, and no one on the show is in a loving, healthy relationship. In fact, perhaps the most noticeable thing about Hung is that no one gets along with anyone, no one is happy.

Class distinctions are apparent, but there appears to be not much difference there either. Characters who have money are unhappy and are in strained relationships while those with lower socioeconomic status are equally dissatisfied. In contemporary American society, power comes with wealth, but in the world of Hung, the rich are portrayed as equally powerless as the poor. The rich women who are Ray’s clients are powerless to change their lives. Although the rich lawyer Ray lives next to is able to persuade law enforcement to continually impose fines on Ray for living in a tent, he is powerless to stop Ray’s deviant behavior or to force him off of his land. In one episode, we learn that he also lacks the power to sexually satisfy his own wife. Even Ray’s ex-wife is having problems in her marriage, and we learn that her husband lost almost a million dollars in investments due to the recession.

Hung provides a realistic representation of suburban dissatisfaction and, like the current economy, teaches us that striving to get everything leaves one with nothing. The instructor of the financial course Ray takes is in fact a fraud who rents a Jaguar to portray himself as successful to his students. This illustrates another theme of the show – things are not what they seem. Ray’s ex and her husband seem to be wealthy but are not. Marriages seem to be healthy and happy but are not. And Ray seems to be the average high school teacher, but is actually a male prostitute.

The only real, honest relationship on the show is between Ray and his pimp, Tanya. Tanya is an unsuccessful poet with writer’s block who spends her days mindlessly checking legal documents for errors and her nights marketing Ray as a “happiness consultant.” A self-proclaimed feminist, Tanya believes that the service Ray offers is one that can give women the happiness they long for but cannot find in their marriages or other relationships. So far, Ray’s clients have consisted of lonely women seeking companionship, wanting to be appreciated for who they are and who are sexually liberated but cannot find fulfillment.

Ray and Tanya are both desperate and lonely. They’ve each been disappointed by their lives, but have great hope and ambition. Their friendship is open, vulnerable and each depends on the other in very real ways. In a recent episode, Ray told Tanya that she was his only friend, and he was right. Though neither is happy, they seem to find solace in one another’s company and support.

I am reminded of a quote by Lester Bangs in Almost Famous: “The only real currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” As our real world looms closer to bankruptcy every day, perhaps shared moments of desperation provide the only opportunity for true human connection.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

One of my all-time favorite things to do is read fiction. When I was little, I always had a book with me. I'd stay up late at night with a flashlight to read so my mom wouldn't know I was still up. I ended up majoring in English in college where reading fiction was actually my homework. And when I was deciding what to get a graduate degree in, I seriously considered literature...until I learned about the dismal job prospects.

I love the escape I find in burying myself in someone else's life. I love getting into someone's head and reading their innermost thoughts and feelings. And I really enjoy a good story.

For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed about having a great story with my someone. Something a movie would be made about like when Ryan Gosling hangs from a ferris wheel to get Rachel McAdams to go on a date with him in The Notebook. Or how Audrey Hepburn meets George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany's when he comes in to use her phone and then helps her get ready to go to Sing-Sing. I've even blogged about great stories of how my friends met their future husbands.

I always thought I'd have a great story too. I dated one guy who actually asked me to prom in high school. He got all dressed up and showed up on my front porch with a bouquet of flowers. I said no because I already had a date, and he stormed off. We didn't speak for six years, and then when we did, we started dating. That would have been a great story. But that guy was actually the worst guy I ever dated and it was the worst relationship I've ever been in - so bad that I'm still embarrassed about some things that happened. A great story doesn't equal a great or lasting relationship.

My guy and I don't have a great romantic story. It's pretty typical and nothing magical happened...except that we found each other. But that's what made me realize I've had it wrong all along. The story isn't how you meet - it's how you fall in love and how you stay in love. That's the real story. That's the story you write home about, the story movies are made about and the one you tell the grandkids. Ryan and Rachel wouldn't have ever been in a movie if there wasn't a great story to tell after that first date. And the best part about this realization is knowing that the story is still being written, it's ongoing and longlasting - like true love.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alcohol, You're Fired.

Oh geez. So I'm breaking up with alcohol forever. We've had fights before, but nothing like two days ago. It was so major it should have been televised on pay-per-view with slutty girls in little bikinis holding up signs.

I've had a great summer, but a super busy one. I taught a class and took one, both of which kept me super busy and the bf and I took trips every weekend. I shouldn't complain, I know, but I also had to cram every week so I could party on the weekends and never got to read for fun and blah blah poor me. School ended last week, and I decided to put my cramming skills to good use and squeeze a full awesome summer into a week and a half.

The bf and I took a trip to St. Maaren, which was lovely, and had plenty of fruity umbrella drinks and hot hotel sex. Then my school friend Kiki and I went to Savannah. Which is known for debauchery so we fit right in.

We got sneaky drunk from sangria at Molly's MacPherson's. Check it out, but just know that it's delicious and deadly. That was the first night. I sent the following drunk texts to my bf:

Drunk drunk drunk but I miss you aw

Sangria Savannah woo!

I want to know why I can't buy french fries at 3 a.m. on a Monday. Isn't this America?

Yep. He loves me. The next day we drank on the beach for 3 hours then at the hotel pool. After a quick disco nap (thanks for teaching me that term, Z!), the party was kicked back into gear.

I'd say the night took a major down turn at Wet Willie's. Do you know what Wet Willie's is? It's spring break every night in that place. Frozen fruit concoctions that all come with warning labels. Kiki had the bright idea to get drunk fast by drinking grain alcohol. I'll confess that I've heard of that stuff and that it can kick your ass, but I've never had any. And never will again.

The rest of the night is an absolute blur. We met three guys from the British Royal Navy. One sang Elvis. Kiki wanted to get some, and I was an excellent wing woman. While she made out with her new friend at the bar, I had intelligent drunk talk. We talked about the E.U. and whether Britain should join. Way out of my league after grain alcohol, but I nodded and managed to follow along. We went to a gay bar, where I flashed a lesbian and let her poke my boob through my padded bra. I also announced that I love lesbians.

And the sweet bf got these texts:

Pour some sugar on me. In the name of love.

Savannah is hot.

Aren't lesbians great? I could be one but I'd miss sexy sex sex.

At the end of the night, I threw up like a six year old on Halloween and got so worried about my friend because she didn't hurl that I woke her to make sure she wasn't dead from alcohol poisoning. In the horrible headache that was morning, I woke up my friend who's a nurse to ask if it was possible to break my throat. He told me to take Advil and promised that I didn't have a flap inside my mouth that could be upside down.

So screw you, Alcohol. You may whisper sweet nothings in the evening, but by morning you're just an ugly bitch that stole my stereo along with my dignity.

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