Friday, September 14, 2007

No Apology Needed, but maybe an explanation...

So there's more to the story from the blog I posted "Rescued", but isn't there always a bit more to the story?

This part has to do with another ex-boyfriend who happened to get rather harshly judged based on the performance of the guy I talked about in the earlier post. He even gets his own music....

He and I dated briefly months ago and when we broke up for reasons that weren't apparently clear but later became bluntly stated (my understanding) that he just didn't want to waste his time with someone he knew wasn't going to be the person he eventually wound up with. I, of course, was too absorbed with how he could tell I was missing some unique quality that would make me the perfect permanent fixture in his life to really evaluate what an asshole he was.

Anyway, he had spent several months/years tracking down the men who had served with his grandfather (who died when he was 2 months old) in WWII and he had written a book about the experience and his interactions and interviews with the 40 or so veterans he had tracked down from his grandfather's unit.

Being the history buff (especially WWII) that I am, I had agreed to read and edit his manuscript and when we broke up, I agreed I would continue the task.

When I finally returned the manuscript to him a few days ago, I just really let him have it. Told him he was really self involved and completely lacking in empathy, which was a deal breaker for me. I was mean, I was horrible. I told him I was only there returning the manuscript to demonstrate that I was the better person.


Why on earth would I be so mean? (In the voice that can be heard by other people? I'm frequently a total bitch in my internal monologue, but that doesn't really count since no one ever hears it...)

Let me start with a quick explanation of how we judge people in my family. It is based solely on how they treat others or more specifically other members of the family. You could be a Nobel prize winning multi-billionaire philanthropist who provides vaccines for children in SouthEast Asia and Africa and provides college scholarships for orphans in Darfur, but if you also beat your wife and refuse to help your own children out with health insurance and basic dental care that they need, you're still an asshole.

Case in point: in college, I had a friend who dropped acid, had promiscuity issues, dressed goth slut, had a marijuana habit and smoked, but she got me into the hospital when I needed it and was always there for me. My parents adored her. My roommate, who was little Miss Perfect, ready for presentation to all parents, but as my mother put it, always out for herself, got far less adoration ~ even fifteen years later...

Because of all this, I tend to judge people rather harshly on how they respond to me when I'm sick and at my worst. It is a rather important part of my life, after all.

The whole manuscript thing was a disaster. Of all the unsolicited advice I received concerning it (and there WAS quite a bit), it ranged from "don't even think about reading it" and "don't provide a single constructive edit" to various creative and violent means of destroying said manuscript. NO ONE supported the idea of me actually reading and commenting on the book. But I felt very strongly that I had given my word and we were, after all, still friends.

So, somewhere in the midst of all this, my allergies and inflamed sinuses caused my migraines to flare up. I missed a ton of work. Spent an inordinate amount of time in sensory deprivation and was in a whole lot of pain.

The ex would email about the manuscript and I would tell him I was having real problems with migraines. Then nothing for a few weeks and he'd check in again. He couldn't even be bothered to drop a simple "Sorry to hear you're not feeling well. Hope you feel better soon." email.

So I started thinking, maybe we really weren't friends. I mean, a friend would have jotted off the little email, right? A FRIEND would show a little consideration. And I started feeling REALLY used. And I started getting REALLY pissed off for all the times I had defended him.

How does this relate to the earlier post I've linked to?

Comparison and Worthiness.

This whole time that I was having this one sided friendship and realizing it, I was also realizing the degree of loyalty and compassion that another person was not only capable of, but capable of showing for ME. It seems rather ridiculous that it was just dawning on me now, but finallly, the life lesson kicked in. I am entirely worthy of someone who will not run for the emergency exit when my life gets ugly. I deserve someone who holds on tighter the worse the storm gets. Why would I put up with anything less?

A few years ago when I was going through this particularly bad time ~ you know, when it seems like absolutely everything is going wrong because basically it is? ~ I got dumped by this jerk who actually had the nerve to tell me, "I just can't handle your drama of the week."

And yes, I did want to scream at him!

Are you fucking kidding me?! Do you think this is my life?? I would have checked out long ago if this were normal!!

But at the time, I kind of accepted his excuse. I acknowledged his weakness and since there wasn't much less I could think of him, just added it to the pile when my anger finally simmered down to pity.

I won't be accepting that anymore.

So when we finally met up to return the manuscript, I just let him have it, so to speak.

Maybe he didn't deserve it, but I don't think I owe him an apology. He brought it on himself...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


There's Something About Iowa and New Hampshire
NYT 9/10/2007 (link above)

I actually registered to vote before I turned 18. The deadline for the general election fell before my birthday, but the general election was after I turned 18. They actually had someone from the Town Clerk's office available during lunch ~ this was decades before anyone had even considered Motor-Voter bills. You had to actually register to vote with that as your singular intention.

I first started going to see Presidential candidates when I about 4 ~ Ford was trying to keep the presidency and Carter was running against a bunch of other Democrats.

I clearly remember the 1980 primaries when Ted Kennedy ran in the primaries against the incumbent Carter and I was too young to realize that Ted wasn't President Kennedy before. Reagan was running against Bush, Kemp, Dole, Howard Baker and a bunch of other forgettables. I was 9 and I met at least Kennedy, Kemp, Baker, Reagan, and maybe Carter.

My mother was a perfect resident for New Hampshire. She was a political junkie. During primary season it was like the circus was in town ~ well, for all intents and purposes, it was.

We washed our hands in the ladies room next to the female TV network anchors. We chatted up journalists from Spain and Ireland and I recorded radio interviews with at least 3 foreign correspondents before I was even old enough to vote.

It was that kind of education that gave me the poise and presence to discuss nuclear proliferation with a US Senator when I was only 11 and stun him with the fact that it was one of the more intelligent conversations he had on the subject.
I kept in touch with him and wrote to him about KAL flight 007 when it was shot down by the Soviets. And he responded.

It was because he didn't treat me like the preteen I was that I went to work for his re-election campaign in 1984, effectively becoming the youngest member of the NH Republican party. (yes, now you know about my dark ugly past.)

In 1984, the Democratic race was wide open. There were a ridiculous number of candidates in NH. I managed to meet Jesse Jackson, Biden, Hart, McGovern, and possibly, Mondale. I also saw Reagan again.

In 1988, it was mass chaos. No running incumbent, so everyone and their brother was running for President. I think my mother made a point of getting me out to see everyone that year ~ we missed Rummsfeld and Laxalt, I believe, because I have no recollection of seeing either of them.

I left New Hampshire after graduating from high school the following year, but still got back to see Dole (again!) and Lamar Alexander (no idea why) and a few others.

I do miss primary season ~ not the constant polling ~ but all the activity. I sometimes watch it on C-SPAN.

And I do think that being raised in that environment makes one more politically aware and take the whole process much more seriously.

I wish I could say that I vote in all elections, even the local ones. Here in Texas, they have this crazy ass system where you can vote for the two weeks before election day at certain supermarkets? And, well, the whole thing just confused the the bejesus out of me and I never managed to vote ~ I couldn't quite figure out if I was supposed to vote at one specific supermarket or what! So I was not able to cast my vote for Kinky for Governor ~ just as well. I was casting a vote out of some immature sense of rebellion. I had somehow worked out that a vote for Kinky Friedman was a slap in the face for W. Not sure on that logic anymore, but at the time it made SO much sense.

Oh, well, it looks as though I will have to live my primary season over C-SPAN. My coworkers tell me that no one even bothers campaigning in Texas, least of all in Austin, the tiny blue spot in that overwhelming sea of red....

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I've been listening to this Jack's Mannequin song lately. It's kind of crazy, but it really makes me think of my life 15 years ago. I've got some really ugly anniversaries coming up and it's always good to start early on the traumatic, don't you think?

Anyway, this is the song (complete with semi accurate lyrics for full comprehension) What on earth did we do with ourselves before youtube anyway?

The song reminds me of the most horrible experience in my life up until that point. Imagine, if you will, being a 22 year old senior at one of the top colleges in the country, fielding options for interviews with Andersen Consulting and Morgan Stanley and all that craziness and you're drowning. You can't seem to move past making the perfect plan for your own death.

So somewhere in the midst of midterms, you find yourself sitting in an office while someone talks your completely shell shocked mother through getting pre-approval from her insurance before they get you admitted into a locked psychiatric ward.

Ever seen your world come crashing down around you? In my scenario, it included pregnant women on crack detox, jello, a rather frightening guy from the hood who really did believe he was from outer space and took way too much interest in me and a whole lot of people in white coats.

It was years before Prozac was a drug of choice or the concept that there was a problem that the stigma attached to mental illness was actually a problem. Aside from my family, nearly everyone ran for the nearest emergency exit. I didn't even get a card from my sorority sisters until I had officially dropped out of college and gone home.

So while everyone else was running away from me, my boyfriend was holding on tighter than ever. He was the one person at the hospital every day. Once I had privileges to roam, we'd meet after visiting hours in the cafeteria (as the University hospital, student id got you entrance) and wander. He picked me up when I was discharged and came to visit me when I went home for the rest of the semester. He never judged. He just listened. He was the constant critic of my "perfect suicide" plan, always pointing out the holes, secretly knowing that I would never go through with the plan until I had it perfected. He knew better than to try to talk me out of it that would have been counter productive ~ his way played to my weaknesses.

For me, the song is all about him, all about his choices to stay with me in the chaos and wait it out with me. And looking back, his actions were amazing for a 23 year old kid. I don't think I ever fully thanked him for what he did or what it meant to me.

Years later, long after we had moved on and grown up, I would find it hard to be around him and then leave. He still held a certain power for me ~ like a stillness inside the storm. I could feel like no matter how crazy the disease was, in his presence, I was safe, it would end and I would come through it. I remember a particularly awkward evening when we had dinner together while I was in town for a wedding and when he dropped me off at my hotel, I just couldn't get out of the car. I was having a tough time in grad school and I just needed a fix of that calmness.

It's amazing how much power history can hold for you.

But it has made me realize something.

I don't need to waste my time with anyone who will run for the nearest escape hatch when I get sick. If at 22 I was worthy of a guy who could muster that kind of maturity, then any guy with an extra 15 years of life experience who doesn't pass the "Matt" test just isn't worthy. That would be a deal breaker.

And I don't think I'm asking too much.