Sunday, September 27, 2009

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say...Come Sit By Me

Have you seen previews for that new movie The Invention of Lying? It looks hilarious and has a star-studded cast, as they say. The premise is that no one in the world lies. They just tell the ugly truth bluntly all the time. I saw a preview where a waiter walks up to their table in a restaurant and says, "I can't believe I work here. You're pretty. Too pretty for your date. Can I take your order?"

Sometimes it's good to lie. "No, you don't look fat in that." "Yes, I did all my homework." "I'm sorry." (Isn't the worst when someone says - "I'm sorry you think that" or "I'm sorry you're upset" Empty apologies are infuriating!)

And sometimes, you just wish you could tell the absolute truth with zero consequences.

Sometimes I'm too honest, and sometimes not honest enough. I guess that's a fence most of us straddle delicately. As I've said before, I'm not good at fighting. After a fight with someone, I usually kick myself for the dozens of things I should have said but didn't. I think of great comebacks and snarky zingers that I didn't think to say or maybe didn't have the guts to say. Probably the latter. And I always take things personally, even when someone I don't like doesn't like me or when someone says something that I know isn't true, it hurts.

There are people I know and have known that I sometimes have the urge to tell the truth to. "When you said that, it really hurt me." "I think the real reason you're upset about this is that you have dangerously low self-esteem." "The reason I stopped talking to you was because I think you're a bad person."

You can't say these things. I mean, some people do, but most of us who want to keep our friends keep our mouths shut. The classic example, I think, is when you don't like your friend's boyfriend/girlfriend. You keep your mouth shut because you hope your friend will figure it out on their own and you want to keep the friendship. Any story I've heard about someone being honest about whether or not they like the person their friend is dating has ended badly.

That's happened to me a few times, though I never ended a friendship over it. No one liked the Awful Ex because he always acted like such a jackass and a few of my friends had the unfortunate experience of actually seeing one of his temper tantrums. Not a good way to win them over, buddy. I did date one guy that a lot of my friends liked, but, not so much. She only expressed her disapproval once, but that was all it took.

See, the truth is that rather than being bold and honest, I actually clam up. I made a point not to talk to her about him because I knew I'd never get a fair audience.

One of my good friends just got engaged (yay!), and a week ago, she and her fella were in NYC visiting friends. One night, they went out with his sister and one of her good guy friends...who happened to be an ex. There were a few other people there, but at the end of the evening, her friend started hitting on her boyfriend's much younger sister. Creepy. She pulled him aside politely and said it was making her uncomfortable. He said no problem, then stepped up his game by rubbing the sister's back, playing with her hair, whispering into her ear.

They ended up leaving the bar, and she decided her friend was an asshole. He was obviously trying to upset her, which friends just don't do, so that's that. She said, "Maybe because I'm dating ____ right now and he's so great, and that's why I never saw it before, but I think my ex might actually just be a bad person." She decided rather than have it out with him, she'd just stop talking to him.

Maybe that's why I didn't respond to the Awful Ex's stupid email. Maybe that's why I moved out instead of fighting again with that terrible girl in college. Maybe that's why I gave up on a friendship in DC a few years ago. We should only share our lives with good people, we should put in effort where it's reciprocated, and we should weed people out of our lives who don't deserve to be there.

Sometimes we don't say things because it's just not necessary. Sometimes we don't start a fight because we already know the ending. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut is better than using the best zingers anyone could ever think of. And maybe that's what distinguishes the good people from the rest.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

These Grouchy Pants Make My Ass Look Big. Or Make Me Look Like an Ass.

I'm fuckin' grouchy.

I don't know what it is. I guess the stress is getting to me. This semester is positively going to be the hardest yet. I haven't had a semester with so much work. I have an average of two papers due every week, and just thinking about it is making me more irritable and angrier. I'm used to having more to do than is possible to get done, but nothing close to the amount of work facing me in the next 3 1/2 months. And it all just makes me feel less like myself. And less like anyone else.

My jaw is clenched, I'm having trouble sleeping, I think I have a permanent scowl, and I really just want to be grumpy and all alone. The bf is being, as usual, absolutely perfect, which is also for some inexplicable reason irritating. I'm so ridiculously grouchy I can only laugh at myself.

Last night, we went to dinner with his friends. In total, there were ten of us. I like his friends, I do. They're kind and always make an effort to talk to me and make me feel welcome. But I also feel hella uncomfortable around them. They've been friends for 12 years. They're all married to their college sweetheart. And they've only lived in Atlanta and nowhere else. Honestly, I find it all a bit creepy. I'm the person I am today because I left home. I'm also the person I am today because I had several years to be on my own and really get to know myself.

I feel so judgmental and awful about these feelings, but I can't help it. I just think it's all so weird. I don't know people like this, who never left home, who've spent every weekend with the same people for more than a decade straight. There's really nothing wrong with it, they're good people, but it still just creeps me the F out.

I have two friends who married their college sweethearts. They're old friends and friends I see once a year and probably talk to two or three times a year. One of them married a guy she started dating at 19. But then at 22, she moved 8 hours away from him to a city and state far from anyone familiar. Three years later, they got married and he joined her, but she still had those years of independence to explore herself and experience something challenging and new. The other friend started dating her husband at about 21, and after college, they moved across the country together and lived in California for a few years. Then they moved again, this time to Texas, and after a couple years there, they got married. Yes, they experienced these changes together, but at least they took a chance on themselves and did something out of the ordinary.

The word that comes to mind is "cute." It's cute that his friends have been with their spouses since they were 19 or 20. It's cute that they live in the same town they grew up in and will probably never live anywhere else. It's cute that their social lives still revolve around the same group of friends that they did at 18. It's like an old movie or TV show or something. It's old-fashioned and traditional and conventional...and creepy.

The worst of it all really is that every time I'm with them, it's always in a large group, and they always reminiscence about people and events that I know nothing about. After they share a few good laughs, someone will notice that I'm staring around blankly and between fits of laughter, they'll recount the "hilarious" story to me. I'm always on the outside looking in. And I always will be. Part of me doesn't care, I think to myself, "Well, I'm never going to know all these stories, I'm never going to be part of this group, and I'm never going to be as close with them as they are with each other."

Last night, out of ten people seven of them went to college together. And the other two went to nearby colleges and started dating someone in the group when they were 19. And then there's me, the ultimate outsider. They tease me for being a Tennessee fan, for going to a different college. It makes me want to scream that most people in the 21st century don't marry someone that went to their own college.

The other part of me pushes me to continue trying, to stay positive, to not let any of it get me down. Because I love him, and I want to spend the rest of my life with him. Which means I'll also spend it with them. Eventually, they have to stop talking about the good old college days, right? Right?

My only real consolation is that even though my special someone also never left the city in which he was raised, he knows there's something wrong with that and is eager to move somewhere new. Before we met, he tried hard to move to California because it was far away from everything familiar. And just last week, he very seriously asked me if we could live in New York. He loves it there and has been talking about moving there for awhile. My answer? "Yes, yes, yes!"

Anyone see a trash can? I need to throw away my grouchy attitude and put on a smile.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Miss You, Manhattan

I miss Gristedes and its miniature aisles and miniature shopping carts.

I miss skyscrapers and a real city skyline.

I miss Smalls, JJ's Diner, B-Bar, Brother Jimmy's, St. Mark's, the Chelsea Hotel and East Sixth's Indian Row.

I miss hailing cabs.

I miss brunch every Sunday no matter what.

I miss walking on city streets on busy days and energetic evenings.

I miss everyone wearing black.

I miss street fairs.

I miss jackets in September...sort-of.

I miss the smells! I'm not a good sniffer. My answer is always, "No," to "Ew! Do you smell that?!" but NYC I can smell. I miss the smell of the subway and the leather of the cabs. I miss the smell of Gray's Papaya and Ray's slices.

I miss the flower stalls on the corner and the flaky croissants from the street vendors.

I miss the pigeons!

I miss street performers that are actually talented.

I miss endless possibilities.

I miss never being alone.

I miss the corner store.

I miss bridges that look like works of art...instead of concrete monstrosities painted yellow.

I miss small artsy theater and bars with gimics.

I miss nights out in the Bowery and SoHo on Saturday afternoons.

I miss you, Manhattan, and I promise to visit soon. Cheers to you and your inextinguishable spirit eight years later.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things Teachers Hate

1. Asking "Is this going to be on the test?"

2. Asking "Are you going to give us a study guide?"

3. Asking "Do I really have to buy the textbook?"

4. When students put their heads on their desk and close their eyes like we're playing Heads Up, 7-Up, and then scowl at me angrily when I wake their lazy asses up. Because I'm bothering them.

5. Falling asleep in class is less annoying than checking Facebook or writing emails.

6. Getting ridiculous emails at the end of the semester that simply read: "hey prof can you change my grade from a c+ to a b-?"

7. Note the lack of capital letters or punctuation in #5. We hate that too. By the way, "you" is not spelled "u." Text speak isn't the way real people talk.

* Sadly, all very true stories.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Airing Dirty Laundry

First, thank you to everyone who responded to my poll last week. And I'm pretty sure it worked as a polite warning so thanks. It's always good to hear your opinions and get your advice. My internet friends are just like real friends! Kinda funny, but true. I've caught myself telling a story a few times that happened to "a friend" and realizing that I actually read it on one of your blogs!

Besides mentioning it here, I also told some friends that the Awful X posted an antagonistic comment. I can't say his name to anyone I know without hearing a chuckle or seeing a dramatic eye roll. First tip a guy's a loser - no one you introduce him to likes him. That used to bother me. I'd defend him or I'd feel uncomfortable, but now I just laugh and roll my eyes with them.

Truthfully, I've been doing that for quite a while. It's just that things with him were so bad that looking back they just seem hilariously absurd. Really? He really did that? I kept dating him? Geez. It used to be so embarrassing, but now it's easy to laugh at because I don't recognize the person I was when I was with him anymore. It feels like I'm just laughing at someone else.

Examples. He once had a party and didn't invite me. Though also didn't give a second thought to telling me all about it the next day. We went to a festival in the middle of downtown, and I got separated from the group (I also got drunk but we all were). I didn't know my way around town at all, and security forced us out an exit we didn't enter at so I was truly lost. My phone stopped working because it got wet so I called him 4 or 5 times from other people's phones. He kept telling me I was drunk and bothering him, then he'd hang up on me. Keep in mind, I was lost in downtown Atlanta. Not exactly Mayberry, y'all. I finally found my way with the help of a kind cop. I still think about that night with chills. I'm so grateful nothing bad happened to me.

He stood me up maybe a dozen times. The worst was when he made me go to two concerts for work by myself. I still stayed at his place that night, but from the time I walked in to the time I walked out the next morning, he didn't kiss me once. Ouch.

After we broke up and stopped talking, I was with one of my best friends in New York when he sent her a text. He happened to be in town at the same time and texted her to meet him at his hotel. She said no, and he kept trying to persuade her, even asking her to bring alcohol to his hotel room. Finally, she (meaning me because of course by this time I was sending the texts) said, "What about Penny?" His response: "What she doesn't know won't hurt her."

I could keep going, but I won't. I'm sure you've got the picture. I left out the most private, most hurtful things like when I was crying about my sick grandfather and he told me to shut up. Those are still difficult to talk about.

And I should also add that this isn't entirely his fault because I could have (and should have) walked away at any point. Eventually with a few grand gestures, he apologized months later. It was genuine and heartfelt, I believe. We tried to be friends for 3 or 4 years. I know, I know, but we'd known each other since we were 12. And I knew that I was a different person when we dated so maybe the same was true for him. He said he changed, and I loved him. I knew him inside and out and...believed in him, believed he could change. Famous last words.

Back in January, he sent me an email and said we were never really friends. At first, that hurt because I tried so hard and even then still believed in the good in him. But then I recognized this old pattern and knew that for whatever reason, he was trying to hurt me. I started thinking and realized that for the past several years, I've continued to make excuses for him.

The past few years he'd been dating the same girl. After their first 6 months together, he paid about $75 to mail a box of Godiva chocolates to my work. He used to say the most awful things about her. He told me more than a few times that he wanted to break up with her but couldn't because he traveled a lot and she watched his dog when he was gone. He said he'd have to give the dog to his parents without that so he had to keep dating her because she was a good dogsitter. Once I asked him what kind of music she liked. He told me she liked whatever he told her to like. Another time he told me that she didn't challenge him at all, that she didn't challenge him like I did.

I realized that I gave up on him about a year before we stopped talking. In December of 2007, we went to the SEC championship together. Our team lost, and he tried to start a few fights with fans from the opposing team. He does that a lot and always brags about it later. It was embarrassing, and if he wasn't wasted I would have left him there. When he gets drunk, it's toooo drunk, you know? He stumbles, stutters and slurs. Anyway, I actually got a little afraid that he'd say or do something to the wrong person.

Later that night, he told me that his girlfriend (who, he boasted, was once on Girls Gone Wild) was still young and adventurous enough that he was trying to talk her into having a threesome. He said she was his one real shot at ever having one then he bragged about other things he'd talked her into doing in the bedroom. A couple hours later the poor girl joined us as did one of my friends and a couple of his. He tried to start a fight in the bar over the game then announced to us all that his girlfriend gave terrible blowjobs.

And I realized he hadn't changed at all. I tried to keep my distance after that, and I'm sure it was something he picked up on. He's right. We weren't really friends. I just gave up.

I don't know if all those things were some kind of show he put on for me, that maybe he couldn't let me know that he was happy and in love with a wonderful girl. But regardless, it's pretty awful stuff and would certainly break her heart if she knew. I don't know if any of it was real, if any of it was who he really is. I don't know if I ever knew him at all.

I used to feel like I deserved how he treated me, that I had done something to cause it or bring those bad things out in him. And who knows, maybe I do. I thought that he hated me and that's why he was always so hurtful. Maybe he's perfectly kind to everyone else and only ugly to me. I doubt that, of course, because before he was with me, he did something (he would never tell me what) that sent him to anger management classes. And another girl took a restraining order out against him.

I hope he's completely changed. I hope he's a different person. I hope that for whatever reason maybe I was what brought all that out in him, and now that we're not speaking, he's a brand new man. And I truly hope he finds all the happiness he's ever searched for. I'm just thankful that for the first time, I can see clearly and that I don't ever have to hear from or talk to him again. I'm relieved that he's out of my life forever. Peace be with you, go with God.

Sigh. It's a real relief getting all this out, putting it all together like this.

* Hey, Dixon-Hughes, get a life and stop stalking my blog. It's weird and you're creeping me out.

Facebook is the Devil.

That's right, I said it. Just like foosball and little girls - Facebook is the devil and the Internet is the devil's playground.

I joined Facebook a few months ago under pressure from school friends who are on it constantly. I didn't cave until I realized that there were parties and happy hours I never heard about because I wasn't on Facebook. And I ain't a girl that ever misses a party. Or a happy hour.

At first, it was this weird complicated maze I didn't know how to navigate. It was mysterious requiring "technological savvy" to work like my boyfriend's SmartPhone (what kind of name is that for a product?!). Someone sent me a "note" and I literally looked it up on Google. It took me almost an hour to figure out how to reply. I got so annoyed that I stopped going on Facebook altogether because it frustrated me too much.

Then people started posting pictures and bugging me about looking at them. I got sucked back into the vortex. Really, Facebook is more of a cult than the devil. A cult full of friends and half-strangers who get called friends by meaningless social networking rhetoric.

I hated MySpace because total randoms found me even though I hadn't seen or talked to them in fifteen years. It was creepy. But now I'm a creepy random! I started thinking about old friends and wondering what happened to them and now we're "Facebook friends" with all the ambiguity that goes along with it. I can waste hours playing around on that thing, laughing at friend's status updates or wacky videos without even realizing time has passed.

It's depressing, really. I thought I was smart and cool. Now I'm just creepy and lazy. Curses and drat!! (fist shaking wildly in the air!)

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