Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday roundup and ramble

So many reasons to eat less meat. And yes, veganism is perfectly healthy.

I'd linked to each of the articles summarized individually, but it bears repeating: single women are whole (which does not mean that we, like anyone else, are above loneliness). Everyone--specifically, in this case, everyone writing books and columns about single women--most recently, Rebecca Traister, Laurie Penny, Maris Kreizman, and Phoebe Maltz Bovy--acknowledges that there's happiness to be had in the right relationship, and so go forth and be happy, but go ahead and be happy anyway because there's happiness to be had outside a relationship as well. 

I was thinking, and maybe I mentioned to you--during the months I was dating someone--how not-different it was. I was me, except I was seeing someone. And then, when it ended, I was still me. In fact, I was more me. This was not the dude's fault (or mine); it was a matter of timing. We met when I was in the midst of a crazy-bananas work deadline and on the verge of serious burnout. I was not Looking to Get Out More, and dating someone (together with my relatively social workplace) made it easy to wallow in my lack of initiative without feeling withdrawal from human interaction. It is also not a result of the end of things that I've been getting out even more since.

Just before things ended two weeks ago, the dude and I went to see a play on Friday night and went to a museum on Saturday morning--both activities suggested by me. I was thinking about how this guy wasn't adding anything to my life: I was including him in activities I would have done anyway, possibly with friends; he wasn't including me in anything of his own. This wasn't the only issue, but it was an issue. Things ended on Saturday afternoon, and like magic, my social calendar was abuzz again.

I got dinner with a friend on Monday; flew to Boston for my dad's surgery on Wednesday; met up with a friend there on Saturday; and had tea with a friend upon returning on Sunday. That friend had brought me flowers; the guy I'd been dating wasn't the flowers-bringing type. Anyway, on Wednesday, I went to dinner and to the ballet with another friend; met different friends for coffee each morning on Thursday and Friday; went out for drinks and Star Trek last night; and went for a short hike with friends this morning. I'm having brunch with a friend tomorrow, and dinner with another friend some time next week. I'm planning two different, awesome vacations with different friends.

I'd not talked to most of these people for a while--not only since I'd met the guy, but since I got bogged down by work--and naturally, there was catching up to be had on all sides. In only one case--probably because it was a guy friend--did I get away with "dated a dude for a bit, no longer dating that dude, which is fine." Most others insisted on more information, and were good listeners and supporters; one or two thought maybe there were things to be salvaged, which I found mildly annoying because they wouldn't have thought so had they been listening. I was pretty clear that I was in a good place. Everytime I've ended a relationship (or a relationship of mine has ended), I've felt pain to a greater or lesser extent, but also a sense of relief that I no longer had to try to fix this thing that was beyond repair. This last relationship was a short one, in which I'd invested little emotionally, and the end was mature and amicable. There was much more relief than pain. So I was surprised when a few friends seemed more bummed than I was, or in some cases incredulous that I didn't fight for it. These friends were on my side--they so badly wanted this spark to succeed--and it would have been nice, but it wasn't to be.

But only one friend really annoyed me (another--my 'well-meaning friend'--would have, had she known something was up, but I didn't give her the opportunity). Both of these friends are terrible listeners in their own way. I'd forgotten--and it's been in part the stark contrast with most of my other friends, whose response has pretty much been, "sounds like you're in a good place and you know what you want and don't want; you both showed signs of maturity and integrity; yes, that [behavior/quirk/trait] of his sounds like a very reasonable deal-breaker;" etc. So I was particularly annoyed when one of this morning's friend doubted me: was I really okay with the relationship ending, or was I just telling myself that as a defense mechanism? After I'd been emphatically stating since the matter came up that I was really more than okay with the relationship ending.

But what really bothered me was this friend's brand of Not Listening, which I'd entirely forgotten about (I've not seen much of her over the last couple of years). I'm all too aware of well-meaning friend's brand of Not Listening, which mostly manifests itself in rocking it back to her. Something we're all prone to, and something I try not to do. There's a fine line between sharing an anecdote of your own to show that you identify with the other person, and making everything about you. Well-meaning friend so adeptly makes everything about her that you wonder why you've bothered to say anything at all about your situation. This friend is not that, but she is a serial interruptor. I had to say (probably) 5-6 times in the course of ten minutes, "this will make sense if you let me finish." And this has always been the case with her. Both brands of interrupting are exhausting; adherents to those brands make the effort of trying to share information with them not worth it. And they make me grateful for my great-listener friends--more importantly, they make me aspire to be like them--who know when to just listen.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

We should have literally knocked on wood

Mom is having a massive meltdown.

Mom, screaming and shaking her finger: I've always done everything myself and brought everything myself! Everything beautiful in this house is mine! I bought this house. I've done everything and I will continue to do everything! That is the way it's going to be!

At least I see the forest now!

A.: What forest?

Mom: Don't you know there's a forest there? With a bear cub?

Mom broke the blinds, not for the first time. Tore them right out of their holder. There wasn't enough light for her, and now it's blinding. She was in the process of breaking the second set, against my entreaties ("I'll do whatever I want!"), when dad got back.

Dad: What have you done? I already had to replace them once. You know I'm not supposed to be exposed to bright light.

A.: Do you want me to try to fix it?

Dad: No, I already know what to do.

Mom: Now I have light!

Dad: You had light before. Now it's too bright.

Mom: I had to see what was going on over there!

Dad: You're not the only one in this house.

Mom: I'm the only one who's ever brought anything good into this house.

Rinse, repeat.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday roundup and ramble

Divorce can happen to anyone and it's especially financially devastating to women.

Other people who have considered divorcing a parent or went through with it--including someone else whose mother suggested she would have aborted her.


My mother has been going on about her bear cub. The one who lives in the tree behind the backyard. There was construction (or something) and it got left behind. One day, there it was, singing and dancing with a group of kids walking home from school. It's been hanging out in the tree ever since, and when it gets warmer it will come down to find a mate. She doesn't know if it's a boy or a girl.

Mom's been keeping an eye on this bear cub for months now, and telling us about its every move. Earlier on, dad--who himself can't help but laugh occasionally--said that I should engage her on the cub. So I've tried a few times, and last night I found a way that works for me.

Mom: Poor thing. I don't envy it. It's a tough life for a little bear living in the tree.
A.: What is it about the bear cub, and not any other animal, that brings out feelings in you? Why feel for some animals, and eat others?
Mom: What? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.
A.: Seriously: why do you feel for the cub and not, say, a cow or a pig?
Mom: Because they're bred for food.
A.: So? I'd hate it if somebody bred me for food.
Mom: I've met this cub. I've seen it frolic.
A.: Look at this pig frolic. Are you going to think twice about eating its family?
Mom: This conversation is ridiculous.
A.: I don't understand the double standard. Why eat some animals and take care of others?
Mom: Because you can't care about every living thing.
A.: [Shrug.]

I pointed out out to dad, all while figuratively knocking on wood, that mom's been on her better behavior. There were a few moments yesterday when she started ranting about things being out of place, but she mostly chilled out when dad reminded her a few times that he was supposed to be recovering from surgery and wouldn't benefit from drama. Mom usually responds to any such plea for civility with some variation on "so?" And always has. "You're tired? Big deal." She likes to have the last word, and she doesn't really care about anyone else not being in a position to deal with her.

And it's this kind of thing in the face of which I have trouble summoning my patience. I can do it when she talks about the bear cub. I can do it when she forgets what she's supposed to be eating. But, as I have in the past, I have trouble forgiving her her nastiness, inconsiderateness, and demands for attention.

Sometimes it's not fair (on my part). It wasn't fair of me to get annoyed when she tried to talk to me when I was trying to work just for a few minutes this morning. When I get annoyed at something like that, it's not for the one situation; it's for a lifetime of her demanding attention. When I got annoyed at her yesterday for dilly-dallying at this store, I was carrying the annoyance of a lifetime of her having no respect for anyone else's time. When I got annoyed at her just an hour ago for talking during a movie on TV, it was because it's out of principle and habit. "I've been watching this movie for as long as you have" and "maybe if you'll be quiet and watch, you'll find out" are things I've been saying to her my whole life. And "I don't know [who that is]. I don't know who every last person who shows up on the television is, so please stop asking me." These last TV-related things especially are things that I should and could just get over. If there are boundary issues here, they're very minor ones. There's every reason to let it go.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lessons learned or reinforced from the amicable end of a relationship

Had I had time to blog earlier this week, this post would have been about how I inadvertently broke up with someone on the platform at L'Enfant Plaza. I wasn't exactly sure what had happened--we parted awkwardly, but there were awkward circumstances: his running late, my being mindful of his running late, and our holding our respective pizza boxes. It was early days--a few months in--and I was enjoying seeing him but had various doubts about our long-term compatibility. I liked this guy--we had an intellectual and an emotional connection--and enjoyed spending time with him, but there were a few too many 'buts' that I couldn't shake. I was willing to keep going out while things were fun, healthy, and respectful. Which meant, in part, that he was taking initiative, being communicative, and treating me well. I'd started to notice slippage in the first two--one thing I really appreciated about him was that, unlike almost everyone else I'd ever dated, he never tried to fuck with my head. There was no passive-aggressiveness, emotional manipulation, blame, or other horseshit. But maturity, communication skills, and respect are prerequisites for a healthy relationship, not the only things you need for one. But I digress.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday roundup

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the erasure of "Nina."

Liberalism doesn't preclude sexism.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson stepped in it, but he demonstrated an important lesson about staying in one's lane. Michael Pollan would do well to learn it.

I was bummed to learn that Virginia Johnson feared the designation of 'feminist,' but that's because I first met her as a fictional character. I did think, even before I knew it was a true story, that the show evoked Mad Men in many ways--one being, how far women have come.

Women need better emojis.

There's no need to slut-shame KK, but let's be real: the only thing she's empowering is the ass-implant industry.

The universe is okay.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wednesday roundup

Nicaragua is reliving the 80s, albeit less violently.

Signs of heroin addiction, coming to a public place near you.

I'm late to post this, but the Times has some words for Chris Christie.
I really feel for this obese person and her anxiety about flying, and wish it on no one and blame it on no one, but would hate to be in the next seat over.

The less we know, the more confident we are.

Two great takes on aggressive atheism run amok.

Listen to this man who learned the hard way: don't kill your relationship by being a child.

"Mad Max" and toxic masculinity.

We women of a certain age see condescension for what it is, and when you're trying to put us in what you think is our place.

Nancy Reagan refused to be invisible.

Women can now afford to be after more than a warm body.

I know I once rolled my eyes at RM for having a picture of his smug self rather than his family on his computer desktop, but that was his desktop, not social media. These parents are judging you for not Facebooking about your kids like they're the only thing going on in your life.

I support the bird-bath movement.

This is what my emails really mean.

This story about a penguin who visits his rescuer warmed even my iced-over heart.