Saturday, June 30, 2012

Telecommuting review

I have completed four weeks at home now, so this is a reasonable time to review.
As suspected, I do work effectively at home. I have had opportunities to work from home before, and I did okay. Instead of getting caught up in coworker conversations, I pet dogs, but that actually takes less time.
From an exercise point of view, it is sort of mixed. We have been great about working out, and have been doing the aerobic workouts six days a week as intended. For step counts, it is pretty bad. Generally I need to take about an hour to just walk to get over 10000. This makes sense. Getting to work was about 25 minutes, getting from work was about another 20, and then there are the little things. For example, the bathroom is much closer when working from home.
Getting that hour of walking in is tricky. What I really need to do is start getting up earlier and walking before I start working. Right now, most of my extra time is spent sleeping. I don’t feel awful about that, but I do want to start getting some other things in there two. I did average 10000 steps the first week of the Summer Games, but that would not have been possible without dancing Friday night and walking around downtown Saturday. I’m working on it.
Also, I have not really been consistent with cooking healthier (or at all). Even though it seems like being here and not having the travel time would mean that I do not need to do as much advance planning, that is not the case. Some of it is also the weather, because when it is hot and humid you don’t really want to cook anything, and if I don’t have a solid plan my sisters say they will just eat cereal, which takes away my desire to even try. We’re not eating worse—I just still have not achieved full potential.
Coworkers can be very annoying remotely, as well as in person, but it is probably way easier to mask the annoyance. They can also be supportive via chat, so really, they are pretty much the same. I know there are ones I talk to less, but I can work on that. I was worried that being remote would make training harder, but that went well.
I have not turned into a hermit. During this month I have delivered dinner to three families, volunteered at the Food Bank, gone dancing, gone out to hear a band play, and had phone conversations with friends. I just got back from Buffalo Wild Wings with friends.
I also signed up for an extra shift at Blues Fest. So in addition to working Green Team Saturday, I also have a shift in the merch tent. This came from thinking about how I would like to help with a music festival. I realized something similar I could do would be to help with roller derby. Lisa said I could do merch for them, then I signed up for the Blues Fest shift to get some practice. Then she realized she had lied—only derby girls can do merch. I can act as a bouncer for them though, so I am looking forward to that.
It does make things nicer for the dogs. They have a lot more company, and if Mom has to run out she worries less. Mainly they’re sleeping, but they like having more people around, even when asleep.
I do still need to do some organization of the area. I have cleared out some things, and there is more to do, and I will probably decide I need a new chair, but things are working out okay overall.
The one big downside is that when I was getting up at 4:45, I had the bathroom all to myself. Now it is occupied, and I don’t like that, though I don’t think I dislike it enough to be getting up at 5 again. This leads to the obvious question: do I bother getting dressed? Well, I have to. I need to walk the dogs every morning, or they bug me, and I am not going out there undressed.
Now, if sometimes I am late getting out of the shower, and need to get online right away, and work for a while before having time to put on clothes, or if sometimes it is hot and stuffy and some things don’t stay on, well, until videoconferencing becomes standard that’s just nobody’s business but my own.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The New Dog

A new dog has joined the pack. This is our sixteenth greyhound, and Geno is very sweet.

I am not thrilled about the name. First of all, they spelled it wrong. Americans! Also, Mom finds the whole Gina/Geno thing pretty hilarious. It’s starting to wear off. I may just call him Gee. That could be kind of cool, because in the project I am working on now, the romantic leads are Gee and Jane, so if Geno and Jane become really close, that could be cute. (No, I did not intentionally name the female lead after my dog. It was just a good name for her.)

We were not specifically looking for an additional dog, but I think it is good. Jack is fourteen, and he is doing great for his age, but that is old. We’ve lost a few at 14 and only Jack actually made it to 15. Mom is concerned that Jane will not do well alone, and that’s fair. Jane is so out there anyway that it probably would not take much to push her over. Geno fits in well.

The timing was a little fun, because he came while we had just started sitting for Milo for two weeks, so for several days I was walking four, and that is harder. Honestly, walking three is harder than walking two, but I know that at whatever point it switches back to two I am going to hate it, so I will gladly walk three. I think I did walk six once.

The most we have ever had in the house at one time is eight, when we had five and some sitting jobs overlapped. In a way that is awesome, with all those long bodies and long legs, you notice. I think the house is only 1400 feet. Anyway, back then Mom would help me with the walks, but since her knees the doctor does not really want her walking lively dogs on our rough road shoulders.

We had to move another dog bed into my room since Jack is usually using the one that was already there. Now that I am telecommuting I am often working flanked by both dogs. He seems to do well with my music. I think he likes Black Parade and Danger Days better than Revenge, but I think that one is a bit higher frequency, so I can see how that would be an issue for a dog. I play the other two more anyway. Geno left for Disc 1 of the Essential Clash, but came back for Disc 2.

I mention that because he seems to have attached pretty quickly, and tends to follow me around. Since he had been living with another family for four years, we thought there might be some grieving. Maybe it helped that he went back to the kennel for a week in between. This is where I’m going to segue into a bit of a rant.

People, animals are major commitments. They love you deeply and wholeheartedly, and to suddenly decide that one is inconvenient after years of attachment is awful. I was a little worried it would be like Chili. We had sat for Chili for years, from when his owner was a young single guy. Then he got married, and it was fine, and they had a baby, and it was fine, and then the dog snapped at the toddler, and they didn’t want him anymore.

I understand the concern, and I have said myself that greyhounds may not be the best dogs for families with young children, but I also know that it can be managed, and we had other sitting clients that had children join the family and it worked out just fine. In Chili’s case, he was already older, and we had him for less than a year, which I think they could have managed. As it was, our paper delivery person had a vehicle that sounded like theirs, so every morning Chili would run to the window thinking they had come back for him, and they never did.

It’s not just dogs. We took a cat for someone who was moving once, and I don’t know how impossible it would have been to have managed keeping the cat, but I do know that Tasha never bonded with us. She was always at the window staring out, and it did not matter how kind we were, she never cared for us. One day she escaped, and we found her by the road. Maybe it was for the best because she was never going to be happy with us, but it felt awful.

I know it’s not always like that. Sheba, Laddie, RK, Westin, and Harold had all had other homes, but still totally bonded with us. We never knew Barley’s background, but since he was found filthy, starving, and sick, maybe learning to love us was easy. Dundee actually snubbed her former owner after we’d had her for a while. In that case, it saved her life that they took her when they did, but then it was like six years of neglect.

(Actually, Jane also had two previous homes, but very short term. A dog that crazy needs some real suckers to get by.)

My point with this isn’t to discourage anyone from adopting pets. There are a lot of pets needing homes, and they should get them, and bonding with an animal is a wonderful experience. It can be great for teaching children responsibility and compassion. It’s a beautiful thing.

Just don’t become part of the problem. They have so much love to give. When they invest their heart in you, don’t pull it away from them.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

80’s Fashion Victim

One thing I did not get into in the previous post is that there were some pretty cool outfits at 80’s night. I just dressed normally, because I don’t know that I could put together an 80’s ensemble out of anything in my closet. I didn’t mention it, because I realized it would open a whole new can of worms. This goes back to the guitar thing again, in a way. As I was listening to so much music, and reflecting on it, I found myself wanting to wear jeans.
To give you a bit of context, when I was a really little girl I hated wearing pants, because they were scratchy polyester things. Then, after getting my first pair of jeans, that was all I wanted to wear ever. At some point, though, I guess around college, I switched to wearing other kinds of pants, usually knits. Jeans were really expensive, and I was a very poor college student. (Ask Mom sometime about coming to visit and seeing the holes in my shoes. That memory still haunts her.) Jeans did wear better than the knits, but not in a manner proportional to its price.
Jeans are of course much cooler than inexpensive knits, but “cool” has just been off the table for so long that I tend not to think about it. Also, if you don’t sew (and I don’t), you can pretty much only find what is in style, and that is often not something that works well for my specific body type. Neither skinny jeans nor low-riders would be a good look for me. The point is, my clothing decisions tend to be more based on what I can live with, rather than what I love.
Based on this, it is not unreasonable that I started thinking about jeans, and wanting to wear them again, but then when I thought about having a bandanna around the knee, I knew the music was getting to me. That was ill-advised even back then, and it would be ridiculous now—especially with my legs. It did cause me to think back on some of the other times when bands have made me a fashion victim.
First let me backtrack and say that one thing Julie and Maria have lamented about growing up is that they did not get any guidance on hair and makeup and clothes. This was a role where a big sister could have been helpful, but not the ones they had. My hair requires more taming than styling, and I don’t like wearing makeup. I would try it sometimes, but it never really stuck.
Personally, I think they did better than they think. Sure, looking at the photos now, where the bangs were divided in half, with the bottom half being formed into a shelf jutting out and the top half fanning upwards, yes, it does look stupid, but it was totally fashion forward. I think they wanted to feel attractive, but they were overweight teenage girls from a poor family—that’s at least three reasons why it was never going to happen.
The outfits they put together were fine for teenagers in the 80’s, and mine were too, when I bothered. There were odd little spurts. For example, one year I took an art class and we studied complementary colors and other type of color relationships, and that was what led me to combine purple and yellow. Most of the bad ideas came from pop stars, who made these bad ideas look really good. For example, I remember watching Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” over and over again, trying to figure out what was going on with John Taylor’s shirt. It had enough fabric and concepts for three shirts, so it was confusing. But he is a ridiculously handsome man, and it worked for him.
One could not always find the same things that the pop stars wore, but we tried. The newscap and the suspenders? Those were from a-ha, and he really only wore the cap in one photo, which should have told me right there that it was not a great idea, but I had already bought the hat. The white fedora? Actually, a lot of people wore those, but none better than Duran Duran, and Nick wearing those loafers with no socks not only led to us wearing those, but No Socks was also the name of our band. The rubber bracelets were a-ha again, though I had one and they had many. I do feel embarrassed about the magenta pants now, but at the time it was something one did. Wearing them with a white t-shirt, with a long shirt unbuttoned over it, (and the fedora) was totally happening.
I could never find a bullet belt. I think you needed to leave the suburbs for that, and this was before the internet. If I had found one, I totally would have worn it. I did have a nice dangling metal belt that set off the alarm in the library once. I guess it was a little magnetic.
The only thing I really tried that was not from pop music was from television. When I affixed several chunky, sparkly pins to a denim jacket, that falls squarely at the feet of Detective Judy Hoffs, 21 Jump Street. (Actually, I did not watch Oprah, but I believe that shawl/scarf thing I wore came about because of other people who were watching her.)
The problem with all of it for me (besides the often questionable, cocaine-fueled tastes that set the standard) was that it was really just playing dress-up, and I never had the patience to stick with it for very long. I would experiment here and there, and then go back to jeans, shirt, and sneakers, like always. Well, I did wear loafers a lot in the summer, and I did wear them sockless, but still, it was for comfort, not fashion. There were two accessories that I loved, and wore a lot, and they felt like they were completely mine.
One was my father’s leather jacket. Bomber jackets were the style, but this was a biker jacket. Still, I know it was cool, because the guy in the locker next to me wanted to buy it for his girlfriend. (Even if it was mine to sell, and even if I didn’t love it, no. She was a horrible skank who only liked him for the things he bought her.)
I think part of my love for the jacket was that my best memories of Dad are when he would take me for a ride on the back of his motorcycle. I initially thought it was a Honda Goldwing. Later on, something led me to believe that it was in that style, but a much cheaper model by another manufacturer. I don’t know, but it didn’t matter. I loved riding that bike, and then it was gone, sold and replaced by a Corvette with much less pleasant associations. Since he was no longer riding, I could wear the jacket, and I did, a lot. (I never tried the leather pants that came with it, and I think this was best for all concerned.)
I wore the jacket with a studded leather wristband. That also would have been hard to find in the suburbs, but I didn’t. I found it standing in line for the Matterhorn at Disneyland. I don’t feel like it was particularly hardcore. It was stamped “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” on the inside, and I don’t think that’s where the crowd at CBGB’s was shopping, but I liked it. It was also associated with good memories, because I loved Disneyland, especially the Matterhorn, like I loved motorcycle rides. (I’m kind of a speed demon, and I don’t get motion sickness, and it just all kind of works.)
I did not wear the wristband every day. I kind of saved it for special occasions. I remember wearing it once for a biology test, and the day I was acting as Lise’s bodyguard, though that day it wasn’t so much for luck as to show that I meant business.
I do remember some teachers looking at it a little sideways, like ‘Really? You?’ I get it. That was 9th grade. I had a 4.0 GPA, I swept the academic honors at the end of the year, and I was an absolute delight in class. Only Mrs. Darling would disagree, but she was 8th grade and that was largely her fault.
Maybe I was just always destined to become a punk rocker. I did watch Rock and Roll High School every time it was on TV, even though I had no idea at the time how much I would love the Ramones. At the same time, yes, I was smart and good, and I did not start trouble, but also when Shon wanted to fight me she backed down, and I was able to act as a bodyguard, and when Steve tried ripping my shirt open my knee went directly to his groin, without even thinking about it. You don’t have to be stupid and a jerk to be able to throw down; it just gives you more opportunities. Ultimately, the leather did feel like me, and the fact that putting it on did not require much effort probably helped, but was not all of it.
Not long afterward Dad stopped speaking to me, and maybe that was why I didn’t wear the jacket anymore. I had my letterman jacket then, though, so there was something else to wear, and I don’t really even wear coats that much. When he left, he took it with him. I don’t think I even have any pictures of it. I do still have the wristband, but I am a 40-year old woman, with some sense of propriety. Maybe if I ever need some extra luck.
I guess what I am really saying is that at some point I may end up buying my own biker jacket.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This post is necessary due to convergence. I recently finished the book “I Want My MTV”, and Friday night I went to the 80’s video attack at the Crystal Ballroom. Both would have stirred up a lot of memories on their own, but together, there was more.

Because I had read the book, when certain videos came on, there were things I knew. That’s why his hair is messed up! That’s not her real mother, but she bonded with her! You really can see which scenes were shot before and after they brought out the cocaine! (I’m not saying they were all good stories.)

Anyway, it got me thinking about some of my own memories of MTV. Some of them are very mixed now, as I can see how while they provided me with some music that I loved, they also withheld other music that deserved to be heard. Granted, the radio stations did this too, but it changed the industry, and not all of those changes are positive. For now though, I am just going to revisit what it was like then.

I think we got cable, including MTV, when I was in about 4th grade. It was near the beginning, but it had been out for a few months. The first video I saw was “Centerfold” by the J Geils Band.

I know it was something I watched, but where it really started affecting me was definitely more around 1985. It was a combination of things. First of all, there was music that I was really responding too, and I became more of a consumer, where I was buying (and memorizing) albums and concert tickets. That was when I started buying teen magazines. I just had to know more about these bands—though the mags wasted a lot of space on actors. Obviously, at the time it was primarily a-ha and Charlie Sexton. I couldn’t even tell you who number three was, because it was those two up top and all the rest were runner-ups.

One of the great tragedies of high school was that after 9th grade my friend Ericka moved and did not have MTV. I would watch the new releases and write descriptions of them to her. This was a ridiculous undertaking, because I would be writing about colored lines going around Michael Hutchence’s head. That does not really give you a sense of the video, but they were so important to us that we would do things like that.

The summer before 9th grade Zia Elda (“Aunt” just sounds too weird, but yes, she is my aunt) visited from Italy, and she would watch a lot of it too. I remember specifically that she did not like Prince (Disgraziato!) or, well, I’m not sure whether she didn’t like David Lee Roth or she was just kind of confused by him. She called him Pazzoida, which basically means crazy man. Then, when she got back to Italy, she would hear Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”, and she would miss us.

Mom recently found an old booklet that Maria had made for her, thanking her for different things. One of them was “Thank you for liking my music.” You know, that did mean a lot to us.

The real point of the decline appears to have happened with the advent of The Real World. I didn’t mind them having television shows. I loved The Monkees and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and I didn’t really watch The Young Ones much, but I had nothing against it. However, reality television sent a lot of things downhill. I was not even watching then.

For me the decline started gradually. I mean, yes, MTV was a facilitator during that dark period when “Ebony and Ivory” was stalking me, but I got over that. Somehow it became less compelling, and then I was out of the scene for a year and a half while on my mission. When I came back I turned it on, and I didn’t like it. It was all rap and grunge, and I didn’t care for either.

Well, maybe it wasn’t the genres even, because I had liked rap pretty well before. Everything had gotten harder—more angry and depressed. I had been in a really different environment, but I don’t think it was just me. Music and my basketball team (Portland Trail Blazers) had both taken dark turns. Also, once you finish school and start working, there’s less time for television anyway.

So the videos went away, and everyone complained, but then when MTV2 or Fuse or Classic VH1 would promise videos again, that would fall off too. The ratings were too unreliable. Suddenly things like pop-up video or other specific shows made sense, because then it would tie together a block of time for advertisers, but it was never enough to maintain a whole channel. I will be getting my video fixes via the internet, I guess.

It was fun to remember though. There was a time when it worked, and for a while there Friday night, it was like being back there, only with worse knees. It still added 13000 steps to my pedometer. Honestly, the music was not my favorite (although they did play “Word Up”)—but it probably varies a lot from night to night, and another night it would be great. Jones gets good reviews too, so we will probably try that at some point.

I was disappointed that they did not play “Love is a Battlefield”. I can do that dance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back and Forth

I’m really feeling drawn towards starting the next music series or getting into the graphic novel series, even though I am not finished with my initial research for either. I’m just not feeling covering more tasks though, perhaps because I haven’t completed any of them. Instead, I am going to bop around with new material on old postings.

First of all, there is another Youtube commercial that’s really annoying me:

This new one is actually a series of short ads. Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction is talking about how awful fear is, and how it can keep you from living your life completely, and there’s nothing worse than that: Dobel Tequila

What a great message! What could possibly help a person more on the road to self-fulfillment than alcohol? What could you possibly do without having liquor as an emotional crutch? Just face your fears like a madman? Pshaw!

Okay, I realize Dobel is sponsoring Lollapalooza, and while I refrain from drinking as part of my religious beliefs, I do not object to others drinking, especially when they do not share my beliefs. What I am saying is that I do not object to him doing a series of ads for the tequila, but I think the content is done in a very irresponsible manner. It is worse than those commercials that just show people having a good time drinking because it is giving a higher meaning to the drinking, and being said oh-so-seriously. I strenuously object (and I understand that no one involved will care).

Next item: I forgot one of my technological accomplishments yesterday. I am slowly going through a major decluttering, and I was collecting all my e-waste for Julie to take in. I have so many leftover screws and standoffs and IDE cables, and I am just never going to use them, and I don’t want to. It was mostly parts, plus one old hub and an old IBM T600e laptop that I had bought used ages and ages ago. I wanted to remove the hard drive, and I successfully located instructions for doing so and completed the process. I still need to dispose of the drive.

I also got rid of the fifteen-year old mouse, which I had been holding onto for sentimental reasons. By complete coincidence I ran into an old friend who is now working for Logitech, and I told him about it. His response was “We made it too good.” Yes, yes they did, but I am still impressed, and hey, I will always buy Logitech, even if I don’t buy frequently.

This last update is going to seem like it’s going back to my attempts to understand where my readers come from, but there’s more to it.

One thing I like about Blogger is that it now shows the page hits for specific posts which is interesting, but sometimes it makes me feel bad for certain posts. Like I thought Geek/Nerd/Dork was pretty good, and maybe the post on Moog wasn’t great but I still wanted people to be reading about him, and they did not get many hits.

My page hits are still largely a mystery in terms of where they come from, and why. I think I may be getting some hits from Twitter, because when the key words are better I do seem to get more hits, and those tend to open up in a separate window, so maybe it doesn’t look like a link. The biggest referrals recorded come from Blogger and Networked Blogs.

The search information is a little more helpful, but also has its sad moments. Like I am glad to see people searching on Charlie Sexton, and unless the person searching on “my chemical romance fangirl” was looking for a specific fangirl, they did come to the right place. However, going back to “I may just be shallow”, people have searched on David Giuntoli a little and Jim Caviezel even more, but no one is searching on Jeffrey Pierce and he deserves it. Give the man some love.

Recently, a search that surprised me was “matt wingard screwdriver willamette week”. I thought it was odd that someone was searching for that. My initial post on it was from 2008:

Then this story broke:

Suddenly, it all made sense. There have been a few more searches on him as well, not mentioning the screwdriver. Actually, there may be some very interesting key words being used that would not specifically lead to my page. I will just make two points.

First of all, if anyone is surprised by this, they have simply not been paying attention. A tendency to manipulate, coerce, be punitive, and avoid responsibility has been there all along when you put together the story of the screwdriver and how he gained his position in congress.

Secondly, with that information out there and ignored, I had this odd thought of whether or not the voters bear some responsibility in what happened to this girl, and to the one who won’t come forward because she is scared, and for the minors supplied with alcohol, and any bad consequences that came of that. Someone who was unfit for power was granted it, and therefore had a chance to abuse it.

It’s a hard question. Often our choices aren’t that great among the different candidates, and being informed takes some effort, and it is many votes acting together that makes a difference, so if you voted for someone else and it didn’t work, believe me, I know how you feel.

I’m not saying voting for the republican because he is the republican makes you guilty of sexual harassment (and probably other things that will never be charged)—there’s obviously more to it. However, we do need to take our responsibilities as voters and citizens and as human beings seriously. Our actions have multiple impacts all over, and we should never forget that.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Task: Wifi and Speakers

On to the more mundane!
I had been meaning to set up a wireless network for a long time. Julie sometimes needs to work from home, and our longest cable will get to her bedroom, but that is not an ergonomic setup. If I had wireless, then she could work at the table. Also, with the laptop, which does not even have an Ethernet hookup, required a wireless connection for setup.
I made a total of three attempts, some of which have been referenced in other posts. The first time I did not get anywhere, but I did not break anything, and I was just not motivated to keep at it. I also forgot the password I set up, which led to a lot of fun on the second attempt. The second time I not only did not get wireless working, but I broke the wired network, and in the process of fixing that disconnected the phone, so really, I was not doing well.
For the next round I succeeded in restoring the wired network, but struggled with the wireless. Finally, a friend came over and fixed it. I guess it is somewhat gratifying that even though he was successful, he struggled and had to mess with it for a while too, so it is not just me being thick.
The speakers were another issue. The sound had gone out on the main PC quite a while ago, and I was thinking I needed to buy new speakers. I received some for my birthday, after having needed them for a few months, and a couple of months after that I hooked them up. I turned them on, played something, and there was still no sound. Great. It’s the sound card. But no, at some point we tried the speakers again and they worked. This is fortunate, because who knows when I would have gotten around to buying a new sound card.
To be fair, these speakers are not particularly good, nor are the ones on my work PC, and the speakers on my old boombox are not doing great either. (I got it in 1991, so I can’t complain about that.) I can use headphones, but I don’t really like wearing them, and I worry about hearing damage. So, I guess the next project will be getting some improvement to the sound system. I do still need to start messing with the MP3 player, so it may just be getting a docking station. Also, the CD/DVD drive no longer opens, so I should probably replace that. Not being crazy about spending money or hooking things up, I tend to procrastinate.
I can note some progress however. I think I had mentioned before that with my order of three My Chemical Romance CDs and one Pencey Prep CD came a credit for one free song download, which I was planning to use on Desolation Row, since that was on a soundtrack and not on one of their albums.
I finally got around to ordering and downloading it, but what I did not know was that Julie had been in Amazon last, had not logged out, and had two free download credits. I thought I was using mine, and she looked later and thought I hadn’t realized that I was not charged. She did not have anything to do with the credit, so it wasn’t a problem, but that meant I still had a credit.
I was not sure what to do with it, but then I thought, what other band that I love has a song from a movie soundtrack that is not in my CD collection? So now I also have Pet Sematary by the Ramones. Now I have two digital music downloads. This is probably a good trend, because I cannot find a reasonable price on the other MCR CD I  need (I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love). I like having CDs, but I’m not sure I like having them enough to be worth the extra $30-60. Also, loading my CDs onto the MP3 player while the CD drive won’t open could present some challenges, so clearly something will need to happen.
Sometimes it would be helpful to have the skills of a computer geek, but I have not paid the price, and I know it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Therefore, what?

It is reasonable to see if we have gotten anywhere, since it was supposed to go somewhere.
I think a big part of it was kind of dealing with my father. Identifying him as the common factor between my sisters and I was fairly new, so working out that by writing about it probably helped. I thought maybe I needed to take some time to mourn what I didn’t have, but I haven’t really been grieving. Still, processing changes in perspective is important.
A friend had seen the one post and we were talking about it, and her reaction surprised me because she was so appalled by him. I think she said “disgusting” twice. She’s not wrong, but we hadn’t been thinking in those terms. It’s just been so much a part of our lives, that even if you know it is not normal for the rest of the world, it is our normal. So, there was taking a new look at that as well.
I think this may also be a step to eventually learning to drive. For me, it’s not just all of these metal bodies hurtling around at high speed where you can really hurt someone. It is that even then I was uncomfortable around my father, and scared of him, and so did not want to learn to drive with him. It is that initially he said it was okay, but then changed his mind and had me go out with him, and that I hit a car. It is that if there were not neighbors outside when it happened, he would have hit me right there. And it is that after that day (the day before my seventeenth birthday) he did not speak to me for two and half years. It’s that his ego meant more than any love he had for me. I still don’t have the time or money to really take the lessons and get a car and all of that, but I believe I am getting into a better place for it mentally. Apparently all it took was deciding that it’s not my fault that my father is a dirtbag.
I have gotten better about accepting my limitations. I have tended to expect too much of myself. Part of that is being the people pleaser and needing to take care of everyone else, but also, I just know there is a lot that can be done and should be done. It’s just not my job to do everything, or to everything at once. I am still creating the long to-do lists, but I am focusing more on what was accomplished than on what was missed, and trying to set good priorities on what gets done first.
Again, I am quite comfortable not seeking out dates, though I do want to be careful about making sure that I do stay in touch with friends and volunteer and do social things. I do still sort of want to be attractive, but I can’t think of any attractive women feel like they are, and having lots of males attention would probably be overly complicated. I may just be better off looking this way, but healthier, which I am working on.
Remember, part of not looking for love is that I am pursuing heath, and a writing career, and I can’t do everything at once. (It’s back to that limitations thing.) These things are more within my control, and perhaps more immediately important. 
(It would be a perfectly valid question to ask why, if I am trying to become a professional writer, I am spending so much time on something that is not at all marketable, and that is almost 200 pages and keeps getting longer. My only answer is that it’s what I feel like I need to do, and I’m going with that.)
I find I have gotten more assertive about expressing when something is bugging me. It seems to me that it should be possible to not let things bother me, therefore not need to say anything, but I’m not there yet. Maybe this is an intermediate step.
I don’t really have any ideas on the physical contact thing. I have asked my mother to hug me twice, and she has. However, I know she thinks it’s weird, and I don’t know that it’s really getting to the core of the issue. It may not be time to work on that yet, or perhaps it is a different process now since I have gone feral. The fifteen-minute a day boyfriend still does sound pretty good on that level.
The other thing that will be different, and this will be hard, is that I am going to work to build up my mother and sisters. We tend to be somewhat deprecatory here, both self and otherwise, and it’s a lot of fun, and it does not seem to cause damage on the surface, but maybe it does.
I was reading in Psychology Today about how efforts to build your own self-esteem don’t work, but that if you work to build someone else’s self-esteem yours goes up as well. It’s an interesting concept. On one level I hate the term self-esteem, and I hate the way that some schools of thought work so hard to convince everyone that they are special that they are working on raising a generation of entitled sociopaths. However, if I compliment them on things that are real, and refrain from anything insulting, even in a joking manner, that might be worthwhile. It does seem to me that people who criticize others a lot are harder on themselves as well.
It will be difficult passing up easy jokes. I have kept delaying my start because I get such good setups and I hate passing them by. I guess I will have to come up with different types of material. After all, we will still have quoting movies to each other, and political humor, and making fun of stupid people and ugly clothes, as long as they are not affiliated with anyone in the household. And yes, my mother laughs when I imitate family members, but she also goes nuts for my Swedish Chef impression, and that harms no one. It will be an adjustment.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Not looking for love

Several months ago I was journal writing about the different areas of my life where I wanted things to change, and it was basically health, career, and love. I set goals for health and writing, and I decided I was not working on love. Doing so would feel artificial to me.
Perhaps that explains my aversion to computer dating or asking people to fix me up. I’m just not feeling it. When love has found me before, well, it found me—with no effort on my part. My tendency is to think that’s just how it works for me.
Actually, when I was working on those goal areas, the other thing I decided that what my ideal relationship would be is that he comes over about 9:00 at night, we talk for five minutes, neck for ten, and then it’s see you tomorrow night. (Oddly, when I said this, instead of people looking askance they thought it sounded good.)
Now let me qualify that. I don’t feel like I have time for anything more. I would love to be connected with someone, and I think the physical contact would do wonders for me, but I think it’s all I could manage. Clearly it would not be comfortable doing so with a stranger, or someone I didn’t like, so I guess what I would need is mutual affection with someone else who is really busy also. And probably, if it did happen, those fifteen minutes would be totally unsatisfying and I would want more. Still, it would be awesome to have a plus-one for those times when it is important (please with a valid license and car).
I appreciate that people have generally refrained from offering advice, because I very much need to do things in my own way, and while often that way does involve critical thinking and appraisal, a large part of it is still intuitive. That may seem unwise if I consider myself to be a mess, but a lot of the pain on my life’s path did not come because of my choices. However, a lot of my choices have led to the friends I’ve made, and experiences I’ve had, and my growth, so ultimately, this path is working for me.
It is of course possible that at some point my intuition will change, and start screaming at me to sign up with e-Harmony or go to Mardi Gras or something weird like that, and okay, then I guess that will be the right time.
I can promise you that I will never prowl as a cougar. First of all, yes, I am basically as attractive as when I was twenty years younger, but not in the way it’s normally done, and also I believe part of their appeal is their experience, of which I have none. Old ingénue may be a niche market, but it’s where I belong.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dating: Harder than it looks

“Harder Than It Looks” is also the title of my favorite A-team episode.
So let’s say that I accept that love and romance and flirting and dating are all as possible for me as for anyone else, and that would be a great step forward, and I think I am largely there, but there’s still a lot of nuisance.
First of all, there is the issue of meeting people within that very small pool. I know the obvious way to get around this is online dating, and I don’t want anyone who has benefitted from it to be offended by this, but it repulses me. Seriously, I cannot stand the thought of it.
Some of that may be that I am not too invested in the process, which we will cover more in the next post, but also, chemistry is really important to me, and proximity is important for determining chemistry. I am a love at first sight kind of girl. Sure, it’s not terribly practical, but since the times when it did not happen at first sight, and I sort of led myself into it, were ultimately far more annoying and devastating, I think I need to stick with my system. I don’t think I can get that on a computer. I have browsed profiles, and it does not work for me.
Let’s say we move beyond that, and there is someone and we are ready to start down that path with something nice and casual. What are our options? Going out for drinks? Well, I don’t drink. Grab some coffee? I don’t drink coffee. Go out for ice cream? I’m sensitive about my weight and sweets aren’t good for me. Grab lunch? I only take a half hour lunch and with no car, it could only happen on a day off, at which point we have already moved beyond the quick and casual.
Truthfully, these shallow dates are not my forte. I’m not good at small talk. I love conversations, but then it’s better if we have some time. So maybe the real issue is that I don’t want to get to know anyone new under those circumstances. If I meet new people platonically, and then something develops, okay, but at this point the people I am most drawn to are ones I already know.
Truth be told, I did go on a date a few (okay, several) months ago. It was someone from school, and we would have chats on Facebook where he seemed on the verge of asking me out, and then didn’t, so eventually asked him out.
It was not awful, and I like him and care about him and am reasonably attracted to him, but we cannot converse at all. It is always just slow and awkward. I guess we are on different wavelengths. I know from Seinfeld that awkward pauses in the conversation can lead to making out, but those usually happened over chat or phone, so it wasn’t really an option.
I guess what I am really saying is that if we went to school together, and you are single, I will go on a date with you. (Unless you’re completely reprehensible, but that hardly ever comes up.) That being said, conversation is really important to me. Even if you don’t talk that much but it’s still flowing, that can work, though at some point I will probably become self-conscious about it.
That’s actually the problem with a lot of dating activities like movies or shows—you shouldn’t be talking, but how will you know if there is a connection if you don’t? And bowling is so loud. I guess mini-golf works well.
Actually, I do have a perfect date in mind: making gnocchi! I was thinking of this because I took a class a while back, and the teacher really seemed to overcomplicate things, and put a lot of disclaimers on all the things that might make them not come out. This seems to be fairly common, but I have to say that while they do sometimes come out better than other times, I’ve never had a batch where we were like “Oh no, the gnocchi are ruined! Why didn’t we just make spaghetti?”
So I was thinking about how people perceive it as more difficult than it really is, and how I would explain it if I was teaching someone, and that’s when I realized it would be a good activity. First of all, there is a lot of work to it, so you always have something to do if the conversation lags, but at the same time nothing you are doing would preclude conversation. That’s a good balance. It’s a little messy, but perhaps that just keeps things from being too stuffy.
Also, since I am the one who knows how to do it, that gives me some advantage to compensate for my other concerns about being old, unattractive, and socially awkward. I can tell you about eating them in a quattro formaggi sauce on a perfect day in Lido, and how my grandfather would drive everyone crazy when he was making them.
I feel it is a good plan, therefore, I suspect the next time someone shows some interest in me, he will have a terrible potato allergy. One can only hope.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why marry a Mormon

I still think most of my readers are LDS (I really don’t know), so to them the answer may be obvious, but I don’t mind going over it a little.
For one thing, it may have occurred to some readers that the small dating pool is more restricted by the LDS part than the age and single part. This is pretty true, actually, and not only for the obvious reasons. I had a friend who was a little overweight (not badly), and she told me once that every guy she ever dated had slept with other women (they were either converts or had been through less active periods where chastity was not a priority). She felt that having experienced different body types in bed made them more open-minded where they did not feel they needed a Barbie doll to be happy. She could be onto something.
In terms of why someone of a similar faith would be preferable, my initial reason was always that we believe that the family is eternal, and that temple marriages are forever, not “until death do you part”, and I didn’t want to spend my life getting more and more attached to someone and then lose him. That is really important, but there is more to it.
(I do remember from my mission one woman at the gym who was trying to prove us wrong, and one of the things she said was that she could barely stand her husband for life sometimes; she would never want him for eternity. I did not find this to be a compelling argument.)
I was talking to a friend whose father is not a member. Her parents have a good marriage, but there are lots of little conflicts that come up, and she never wanted that for herself. I can things that could be issues. Yes, there would be issues with raising the children, but with even little things like whether to keep alcohol in the house or how to spend Sundays. You can’t expect someone to live according to beliefs they don’t have, but it can make sharing a life uncomfortable.
When I left on my mission, I was a little naïve, because I knew what I was teaching was true, and that anyone could know it was true, so no problem. That turned out to not be the case. It is true, and anyone can know it is true, but some people will not let you get close enough to know that it’s true, and also some people will know that it’s true, or start to know, and still not want it.
I raise that point, because of the next obvious question of getting someone who is not a member and then turning him into one. I don’t feel that “flirt to convert” is a great strategy. Faith is really important, and romantic feelings have a tendency to cloud judgment, and I don’t want to be setting someone up to make promises they don’t understand or are not really prepared to make. Phrasing it that way, it doesn’t really sound like an ideal starting point for marriage, especially if there is conscious manipulation.
I have heard (and I cannot back up these statistics at all), that if you marry someone who is not a member, there is a 1 in 7 chance of them joining, and 3 in 7 of you stopping going. I guess the other three either make it work or get divorced. Anyway, those aren’t great odds.
That being said, if he came into the church some other way, I have no concerns about marrying a convert. It might actually be better. My parents joined after they were already married, and Dad stopped going when I was nine, so we haven’t really had a traditional Mormon upbringing. I have attended Primary and Mutual and everything, yes, but I have never lived in Utah, or even been to Idaho, and I think putting carrots in green Jello is ridiculous and gross.
Really for any marriage decision, I am going to pray about it first, and if it seems right to marry someone who is not a member, or wrong to marry someone who is a member, than I will go with that, but that would also mean that I have been dating someone and either he has proposed or it seems likely that he will, and there is just no reason to expect that any time soon.
In terms of dating someone who is not a member, well, I have, and I would, but again, dating is just not coming up. If I fall in love with someone of a different persuasion, we will simply have to handle that with intelligence and mutual respect. There are just so many complications in even getting to that point with anyone, member or not, though, that I am not really anticipating it.
More on dating complications next time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Adventures in the Shallow End of the Dating Pool

Warning: In this post I may come off as bitter, judgmental, and mean. I’ll give you mean, sometimes.
When we were asked why we were not married last time, Julie answered that there is a shortage of good men, to which we received no argument. It is certainly true now, even if it has not been as true all along.
When we were younger, there were many age-appropriate men around, and not all of them were idiots. There were also many other women available, and somehow the men disappeared at a faster rate, indicating that there must have been more available women than men. Both pools were being replenished frequently enough, and had enough candidates, that it was not an immediate concern.
As time goes on, the disparity mattered more. Our church does focus on family a great deal, but we also believe in chastity, so there are strong motivations to not wait that long to get married. This may sometimes lead people to get married younger than they should, but generally speaking, good and intelligent men tend to go fairly quickly. As a woman enters her late twenties, the pickings become slimmer, and this does not improve in her 30’s.
I don’t mean to imply that any single LDS men over the age of 30 are either bad or stupid. They could also be closeted gay; pompous arrogant jerks, in possession of severe relationship issues that make me look balanced, or what will become more and more common now, divorced, which brings its own baggage.
There are two things that make it worse. One is that the guys are much more likely to select younger mates. So new young single men arriving on the scene is not nearly as helpful for the mature woman as the arrival of young girls is for immature but still older men.
Also, because of the imbalance between supply and demand, the guys are generally capable of marrying up. When we see older males marrying, they are generally getting someone better-looking, smarter, better off financially, more spiritual, or all of the above. Based on my level of attractiveness and wealth, someone for whom I would be enough of an upgrade is probably not someone who could interest me.
For me, when this was happening, I was always in love with someone who was away, so I didn’t really worry about it. Ultimately these guys didn’t matter—it was always going to be him. That sounds like an avoidance technique, but it was also a form of comfort. It’s not like I was getting asked out a lot. I went on dates periodically, where I invited, and they were usually fine and we would have a good conversations about their issues, and shortly afterwards they would start dating the girl they ended up marrying. (Always glad to help.) I did start to develop feelings for people twice, but they never reciprocated, and I am fine with both of those going nowhere.
I should be clear that I am okay with not getting married. I have a good life, where I don’t really even think about it that much, although that would not be obvious from this latest series. My reason for doing it, though, is that if there were issues that kept me from progressing, I don’t want to keep dragging them around.
My point with the next few posts is that for the marriage issue, fixing these issues will probably not matter based on the primary window of opportunity passing. As it is my nature to explore things in detail, especially when there is some potential for humor, well, I am making hay while the sun shines, something I neglected in my misspent youth.
There are few things more depressing for a single LDS woman than speed dating at a single adults’ New Year’s Eve dance, but I have done it and that’s what inspired this title. I’m not even sure there’s any point in going over the details. Suffice it to say, I don’t want to be married that much.
(I’m sure they are all really good people who deserve happiness.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

So why aren’t you married?

My sisters and I just got this question last Sunday, though it had been a while since the last time. It was well-intended, but it’s kind of a horrible question.
Actually, as part of a comedy set once I did a bit on the question, and my take on it was that really they are asking if you are gay (perhaps an exaggeration, but not completely untrue), and the best solution was to tell increasingly outrageous lies. You know, “I am married. I keep him in the trunk” or “The paperwork would disclose my true identity.”
Of course, it is always married people who are asking. Other single women find the question too painful, and single men probably know why you are not married, or they would be hitting on you. When a viable male asks me, and is really just checking to see if I like men and it is reasonable to proceed, then we’ll talk.
The most uncomfortable time when it was asked was probably also the one that was most valuable. I had assumed the reason that no one wanted me was that it was not possible for anyone to want me, and that should be obvious to all.
When you have this mindset, it seems like kind of a cruel question. Maybe if they haven’t known you, they think you gave up and let yourself go later, but often these are people who have known us for a while, so they should know that obviously we were never viable.
Anyway, I once ran into a friend’s father in a store and we had not seen each other for a while, and he asked me in such a piercing way, it was almost an accusation. That sounds bad. He wasn’t being mean. Clearly he thought that I should be, and it bothered him that I wasn’t. Perhaps I should add that my friend had died a few years before, and his parents will never be able to forget that life is short, and you don’t have a lot of time to mess around.
I gave some unsatisfactory answer, because I have at least enough dignity to not start screaming “How can you be looking at me and even ask that?” It shook me though, and I had to seriously consider that maybe it was not obvious. So I guess it’s just that we have issues. It’s as good a reason as any.
Other people have suggested potential reasons. One very religious friend suggested that my father’s actions have led him to be left without posterity. Okay, but I don’t believe we should suffer for that, and he would be anyway because we’re not in touch with him. (Though, you could argue that his method of raising daughters directly correlates to his daughters not being successful with men.)  Another friend suggested that there are some women who don’t get married because they are meant to serve others. I see where there could be some evidence for that, but I’m not sure I’m down with it. Yep, I just have issues.
Obviously I am trying to work through those issues. One idea that had recently occurred to me was that I would like to go through some pre-marital counseling materials, just to kind of see what people on the verge of marriage would be looking at. I would call this process “So Exactly How Messed Up Am I”, but in reality, those things aren’t all that exact. It would only be an approximation.
However, I have no idea where to find a good curriculum, and it will not be through a counselor’s office. Obviously I am interested in psychology, but there are a lot of quacks out there and I just don’t have the patience to deal with finding a good one. If I reach a point where I feel like I can’t get any farther on my own, then I will reconsider.
For now, as I am working on becoming this improved person, healthy inside and out, the odds of me getting married are nonetheless quite low, and that’s where we’re heading next. The upcoming content should start becoming a little more humorous and less depressing, especially if you are already safely in a satisfying relationship. If you are also an older single woman, especially an LDS one, it may kind of suck.

Monday, June 18, 2012

In which I sell out the family members I like

The biggest conflict with blogging for me is always when it involves other people. I can lay my soul bare, and it’s my choice, but there are times when other people are a part of my story, and then I have to decide. Sometimes this leads to leaving some details vague, or using code names, and sometimes that doesn’t work. What I’ll do in this case is load it up with lots of caveats.
First of all, I believe I love all of my family, but my home unit, Mom, Julie, and Maria, are special to me. Maybe it is the bond of the shared religion, (yes, technically the rest are members too, but not that you can tell), or the long years of living together and mutual support, but I remember even back in my early teens that my family felt like the four of us. I love them, I am fiercely loyal to them, and will go to great lengths for them.
Since I do feel this depth of affection for them, that should indicate that they are not that terrible, and also, in a situation where I am living with them and dealing with them every day and am generally happy doing so, this should also indicate that they are not that terrible. I am saying right now that they are not terrible. Let’s be clear on that.
That being said, there are two weak areas for me where they are not particularly helpful. These areas come up every time I have a low spot, and so I can’t really fully address my issues without covering them, but this should not be read as an indictment of my family. After all, these two areas are part of my everyday life, and yet they really only matter when something else is out of whack. Shall I stop beating around the bush now?
Remember I mentioned The Five Love Languages? The main point to that is that each person has one of five ways in which receiving love is most important for feeling loved. Mine is physical touch. I am the only Physical in my family. The rest would rather not touch at all. Mentally I know they love me, and they do things in their own way. Julie taking over with the dog that night was an important one, and they will sometimes buy me clothes (something I neglect to do a lot) and other things. (I would say Gift-giving is Julie and Maria’s primary love language.) Julie has recently taken over mowing the lawn, which she says is for the exercise, but I think part of it is so I don’t have to do it. They give me rides. They are not a bad family, but there is a definite lack of touch.
In addition, while they are not completely free of nerdiness, they are not geeks, and a lot of the stuff that I geek out over they think is completely stupid. Of course, I can obsess on the blog, and a lot of the music writing was stuff that I might have gotten out in conversation if anyone was interested in hearing me talk about that. If I were a more secure person, it’s not necessarily that it would feel good, but since I am coming from a point of always feeling unworthy –“bad”—it reinforces the dark place. I want them to find me interesting, and cool. They do like when I know the answers to questions they have, and I like that too, but it’s not my wildest dream.
The last bad time I had was on the last full day of the cruise, and part of it was being tired. A lot of my vacation responsibility is trying to keep everyone in a good frame of mind and making sure they are having a good time, and with extra family along and certain disappointments with the cruise, that was harder. Also, that particular day had involved me being the only person not to see any dolphins, missing breakfast because I was the only person capable of attending the disembarkation instructions, and getting varnish all over my pants, purse, and arm at some point during a walk on deck.
This might have been enough to make me hate everyone anyway, but one thing I really focused on was that my sisters had not come to watch me do karaoke. I get that they don’t want to do it themselves, and that when I go out they don’t necessarily want to come along, but there was nothing else to do, why not come along? Part of me wants them to see that I am kind of awesome, but then what if they didn’t? What if they thought I sucked? I mean, I am not really a great singer. I’m a committed performer and so I’m a good time in that way, but maybe they would not be impressed. So I was hurt that they had not come, but I had not asked them to come either.
Really there are several issues here, and probably multiple remedies. One the issue of having this emotional wound of shame, and not having a strong ability to trust, that’s just kind of a process, and I have improved some, and I am not done. There are some exercises in the 9 Personality Types book, and I had gone through them before, but I could probably stand to do them again.
I also know that to a large extent you teach people how to treat you, and for a long time I taught people to expect me to take care of them and they did not have to reciprocate. My big area of improvement here is protesting when I get interrupted (which is pretty often). When I think things are interesting and can’t NOT talk about it, I am trying to reduce it to a sound bite of the most interesting aspect, and only say that. This is not as satisfying as having someone listen to me and be amazed, but it’s workable, which the other may not be.
The touching is more complicated. I have had times where I have done pretty well. When I was in college, there was a lot of hugging at church, and there have been phases in the singles ward where hugging was big. That does not seem to be the case now, but also, I’m not sure that I want it that way. There are specific people that I don’t want to touch me. I worked with a guy once who was a big toucher—always putting hands on shoulders and things like that—and it creeped me out. He was kind of a bad person though, and I did not like him. I said I was the only physical in my family, but actually, I think my other sister is too, and I don’t want her touching me. People whom I like who may read this, but I don’t necessarily want them to touch me if it is like pity touching, or if it feels weird for them.
Actually, I’m afraid I’ve gone a bit feral on this one. I’m not sure what to do about it. Esteemed scientist and autistic savant Temple Grandin built a hugging machine, but I think that might be a little extreme.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

In which I blame my father

Happy Father’s Day after all! This is really just how the timing worked out. No offense to other fathers out there.
Generally speaking, I have no patience for people who blame their parents for everything, because you still have choices. It can’t all be parental anyway, because children raised the same way turn out differently, especially if you look at my family.
There is one trait that seems to be shared among my sisters though, in that none of us are married, or have even come close. Now, in some ways this is an advantage, because it can be really hard for the lone single woman in a family of married siblings, and we can support each other. People don’t just wonder what’s wrong with me—they wonder what’s wrong with us. The downside is that there are no nieces and nephews either. (My brother is married, but they have chosen to remain childless.)
It’s not that we have all necessarily remained single in the same way. If perhaps one of us is consistently attracted to disrespectful guys and one of us is consistently attracted to gay guys, and one is consistently attracted to guys who are nice to her but not interested, that’s not exactly the same. Personally, I always managed to focus on guys who were gone. They were in different towns, at other schools, or graduated already, and when I did fall for one who was actually at the same school, I still believed I was into the guy who was on the mission, at least long enough until I was gone, and then the other guy was gone, and frankly, a bit alienated as far as I can tell.
None of us did that consciously, but we all did it, and after starting to think that was not a coincidence, I think it may have been our father. First of all, he never treated our mother with respect, and he withheld affection a lot, so we didn’t really have a good model of marriage. Secondly, we were never good enough for him.
I can look back now and have a certain amount of compassion for him. He has his own issues, and they have made him at least as unhappy as he has made us. Actually, I would say he is considerably less happy than half of us. At the same time, he left the females with a hard time relating to males.
One of my earliest memories of my father is that he had taken me to the dentist, and then we stopped at Tryon Creek on the way back. He gave me a Hostess cupcake, which got my face messy (I was about four), and then took out his handkerchief to wipe my face. This should be a good memory, and the fact that it is not is more me than him. I said (as a bit of an overly analytical nerd even then), that it was good that he had the handkerchief in case he sneezed and needed to blow his nose. He said, or in case I find a girl with a dirty face. That should be cute, but I immediately had this image of him meeting up with another little girl and taking off with her. Even then, I didn’t trust him.
When the first affair happened a few years later, other than the emotional damage it did to Mom, and the changes that came after he started setting conditions for her and changing around the home life to suit him better, the biggest thing was that he was spending time with someone other than us. I had no concept of sex at 9, so all I understood was that he wanted to be with someone other than us. I guess it hurt, but there was so much else going on it almost seems like the smallest part of it, and also, I had felt that it was coming all along.
Was that when the shame started? It didn’t help, but I think it was there before. First of all, the Suzy incident (where I began to see myself as fat) had already happened, showing that I was already receptive to the message that there was something wrong with me. Also, my big reaction to the affair was trying to take care of Mom, which may have indicated that I was already into accommodating. Of course, that there was something that I desperately wanted to fix that I had no hope of fixing could conceivably have reinforced the message that there was something wrong with me, and I needed to really make up for it. (And then, the first time he disowned me, and that put strain on their marriage, that didn’t really help either.)
I know there will be people who feel like we children should not have known about the affair at all—that Mom should have kept us from finding out. I see the point. I also don’t think she could have done that, and even if she had tried, there would still have been emotional changes in the air, and the changes that happened later would still have happened, because Dad was the one who made her take a night job where she was gone after that. It would have still been cataclysmic.
We all came out of this differently. I’m a People Pleaser, but we also have an Attention Seeker (wound: lack of love, coping behavior: narcissism), and there were two where I could not decide for a long time, but I think the deal is that one was leaning towards Skeptic (wound: betrayal, coping mechanism: cynicism) and the other was leaning towards Cool Cucumber (wound: deep emotional pain, coping mechanism: denial), but because they were so close they needed to share, so each became half and half.
That relates to our emotional state, but also, more than that, I think we just don’t trust men to love us. Even though I do believe that Dad, the first man whose job it was to love us, did love us, it didn’t always feel like it. You simply could not be good enough for him. Marriage didn’t necessarily look like that much fun anyway. Sure, I never believed my marriage would be like that, because I knew mine would be better, but maybe I only thought I believed that, because my marriage ended up being nonexistent.
I know that things turn out differently. Some women end up in serial awful relationships because they have a bad pattern set up, and they keep acting according to that pattern. We have just managed to avoid romantic relationships altogether. Our previous theory had always been that it was because we just weren’t attractive enough, but I don’t know anymore. I mean, we often see fat girls with boyfriends. We assumed it was because they were putting out, but it seems to be more complicated.