Un-Healthy Relationships

Today’s gonna be a rant about movies and TV shows that deal with romantic relationships.
Craig and I are finding it harder and harder to watch those kinds of things without getting utterly pissed off at the writers.  I’ve heard that most people write about what they know about, and if that’s true, then it’s no wonder that there are so many divorced people in this country (and possibly the world).
 
Granted, Craig and I have only been married for 5 years (together for 9), so we don’t have “all the answers,” nor do we necessarily think we’re experts on healthy relationships.  But I can tell you that we don’t fall into any of the “classic” traps that you see in relationship-based entertainment.
 
Our biggest pet peeve with these stories is communication, or lack thereof.  Every time we see a scene where a couple has a “misunderstanding” because they weren’t completely honest with each other, we throw up our hands in disgust.  If we’re watching said show at home, we even pause it to discuss where the couple “went wrong,” which then leads to a discussion about how frustrated we are that these kinds of unhealthy relationships seem to be considered “normal.”  When one member of the couple answers “I’m fine,” or “Nothing” when asked “What’s wrong?” by their significant other, we again get disgusted and have to discuss that for a long time.
Another annoyance for us is when couples are mean to each other.  Case in point, the TV show Black-ish.  We used to LOVE this show when it first came on.  It was funny, well-written and gave us points to ponder and discuss.  But over the last couple of seasons, it seems the writers have been upping their abuse of Rainbow.  It’s always annoyed us that her mother-in-law, Ruby, verbally abuses her (while Dre says nothing), but lately Dre himself has been increasingly abusive to her.  So much so, that we’ve often wondered why she stays married to him.  We used to be excited for a new episode to watch, but now, it’s one of the last shows we think to pull up in our streaming list, for the very reasons listed above.
I’ve even started watching less and less romantic comedy movies due to these issues.  Craig still enjoys them a bit more than I do, but he agrees that the communication and crappy behavior in them causes him to enjoy them less than he used to.  I just can’t waste my time anymore on a movie where two people seem to hate each other so much, or whose relationship is based on a lie . . . but then suddenly fall in love with each other (usually after having sex) and everything’s “okay.”  Films like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or Failure to Launch really hit a new low in my opinion, so I’m even pickier than I used to be.
What we’d like to see happen is for writers to stop writing about what they know, and start writing about how things could be.  You know how some people say that we learn by what we watch (which is certainly true for children)?  Well, why can’t people start writing about healthy relationships?  I’m not talking about The Brady Bunch which I HATED because of how unrealistic it was, but there’s definitely a happy medium between Everybody Loves Raymond (Ray’s mother . . . grrrrrr!) and a Stepford family.  There are still plenty of interesting and dramatic things to discuss in relationships without everything having to be so secretive.  Craig and I have plenty of drama in our lives, but we sit down and discuss things in a calm and respectful manner.  I don’t think I’m always right and him wrong, and he doesn’t treat me like I’m “the little woman.”
Maybe the viewing audience wouldn’t be interested in that sort of thing right now (especially with the current fondness for hyped-up drama from “reality” shows), but I personally would love to see TV and movie execs give something like that a solid chance.  Because, how can we change our reality into something better, if we don’t know what that looks like?
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Wanderlust

As I’ve said before, I moved around a lot as a child.  By the time I was about 33, I had lived in as many dwellings.  Not all of them were new cities, and there were years when I stayed put, but I had packed up and MOVED 33 different times by my early thirties (with about 10 of them happening before the age of 16).  Basically, my early years were spent as a vagabond of sorts.

There are several “consequences” that can come from a life like that.  One, is that someone might establish roots somewhere, and never, ever, ever leave, because they’re looking for stability.  They might end up living in the same house for the next 50 years of their life, because they’re looking for stability.

Another possible outcome–as in the case with me–is that I don’t know how to stay in one place.

When I first lived on my own in Chicago, I had a great apartment.  It was very close to work, close to amenities and transportation, was affordable, and in a neighborhood that had once been a bad drug area, but was recently cleaned up, and starting to become the new “hot spot” in town.  As great as it was, after about a year there, I started feeling this itch to leave.  I didn’t want to leave Chicago, because I loved it.  I had a great landlord, who was very responsive, and always brought me flowers for Valentine’s Day (something he did for all the women living in his units, including his daughter in the back).  But yet, there was still this itch to leave, to change something, to shake things up.

Thankfully, I eventually resolved the issue by rearranging the furniture to give me the appearance of a new space.  But this is an itch that crops up every now and then with me, and–while it now takes longer than a year before the itch kicks in–when it hits me, I feel this wanderlust growing inside of me, and I feel like I need to go.  To leave wherever I am and look for what’s over the horizon.

Lately, that’s what I’ve been feeling about where I live now.  I don’t necessarily want to leave Alameda, because I love this little island.  And I don’t necessarily want to move to a new place, because we have an AMAZING apartment at a SUPER cheap rent.  We would never be able to afford something like what we have anywhere else in the Bay area.  Hell, the only reason we have such a sweet deal here is because our landlords inherited the place, and wanted good, responsible tenants more than they wanted a thick bank account.

And I DEFINITELY don’t want to leave my husband, Craig.  I love him, and I love our life together.  I had no idea just how badly I needed his sweetness and unconditional love in my life, but oh, how I did and do!

And yet, there’s still this urge inside of me to leave.  To be somewhere, anywhere other than where I currently am.  To have a new vista, or new something to do.  And I know that–if Craig and I weren’t together–chances are, I’d be gone already.  Being with someone can put a serious crimp on the vagabond lifestyle.  But, again, his love and support help make up for it.

But with this latest bout of wanderlust, I’ve been feeling a sense of guilt along with it.  Like I should be mature enough, and settled enough in myself to stop “running” every few years.  I’m 47 years old, for goodness sake!  Shouldn’t I be more interested in buying a house, or getting a better mortgage than I am in wondering what “else” is out there to see or do?

We’re led to believe that, to be truly happy, you need to stop wanting that “something else.”  There are sayings all over the place that quip “True happiness is not in having what you want, but in wanting what you have” and other such stuff.  The guilt running through my head is a direct cause of these kinds of judgemental quotes.  Then it morphed into a sort of depression over the internal war about leaving versus staying, where I wondered what’s “wrong” with me for wanting “more.”  Where I felt badly that all the wonderful things I have in my life wasn’t “enough.”

But on the other side of that depression, I can see it for the judgement that it is.  While I agree, that acquiring tangible “stuff” can’t make you happy, there’s nothing wrong with wanting new experiences, or new towns.  It’s part of what makes me such a well-rounded person.  Part of why I find it pretty easy to adapt to changes in life (even the ones I haven’t instigated).

So, maybe all I need to do is just take off for a trip somewhere soon.  Maybe going someplace I’ve never been before (even for a weekend) will help satiate my need to rove for a while.

Excuse me while I go check on flights . . .

The Feels Are Coming

Someone recently sent me a chain mail on Facebook (FB).  It was one of those that’s designed to give you “the feels,” while also quietly coercing you into forwarding the chain on to others, with a not-so-subtle challenge/competition thrown in for good measure.

Now, first off, I HATE those kinds of things.  I abhor each and every one of those memes that have phrases such as “Like if you have a heart,” or “I really need a hug.  Let’s see who cares enough to send me one.”  Things like that are designed to guilt-trip you into responding and/or forwarding this manipulative crap on to someone else.  I’m rebellious enough that I immediately scroll past any meme that has words to that effect in them.  I refuse to share, and I refuse to acknowledge that I’ve even seen it.

But it’s not just the manipulativeness about them that bothers me; it’s also that–while they’re an attempt to reach out and tell people you’re thinking about them–they seem SO impersonal to me.  99% of the time, the person who sends or posts one of those did NOT write it.  It just got sent to them somehow, and they decided to share it, or forward it onward.  So, something like that never seems genuine to me.  Throw in that some of them have horrible grammar and/or spelling mistakes (or worse, use text shortcuts like “u,” “ur,” etc.) and I just cringe all over.

So, when this meme was recently sent to me via personal message (PM), I wrote back to the person and asked that they not send me those kinds of things anymore.  I explained my reasons for why I don’t like them, and did so in a calm, point-of-fact manner (at least, I hope I didn’t come across as rude).

However, as I pondered it a few days later, I found myself trying to defend my position again (to myself, not the sender).  A bit of soul-searching helped me realize that–while it might not be the most personal message–at least the person who sent it had the thought to send it directly to me via PM.  That got me to reflecting on how bad I’ve been at keeping in touch with people over the years.  I have hundreds of “friends” on FB, and still more people not on FB that have meant something to me over the years.  Aside from holiday cards, postcards, or sending Birthday wishes to them on FB, I don’t stay in touch with most of these people.  Even though there’s still a fondness for them in my heart.

So I decided that I will make up for that in 2018.  It’s not necessarily a New Year’s resolution, but I feel like a hypocrite for refusing any sort of nice message from someone, just because I think the method is impersonal, when I haven’t been personal enough with people I care about myself.

Some people will get a long email or letter, while others might get a short but sweet note on FB via personal message.  A lot depends on the person and how much s/he has touched my life.  And, that’s not to say that a short note won’t be heartfelt, because I’m going to make sure to really express how much s/he has touched my life and in what ways . . . but some people have only been in my life for a brief time.  But everyone who has touched my life has made an impact, and I want to let people know that I feel that.

I don’t know if it will take me the full year.  I haven’t yet counted how many people I will be reaching out to.  But 2018 is going to be the year where I send the HELL out of “the feels” to the people in my life.

Get ready . . .

Too Much

“I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed.  But can you ever just be whelmed?”
“I think you can in Europe.”

~ 10 Things I Hate About You

As you can probably tell, this post is late.  I’m bummed that I didn’t have the presence of mind to get this one written and posted before now, but maybe you’ll understand by the time you finish reading this blog . . .

I know I’ve written before about how busy my life is.  But lately, my life has been CRAZY busy.  My mother has commented in the past how I like to keep myself busy; and while that’s true to a certain extent, I don’t like to be so busy that I have very little time to myself, or that I feel so overwhelmed and stressed all the time, like I do now.  It bothers me that I don’t have enough down time to speak with friends and family unless I somehow squeeze them into my week; usually by combining the chat with one or two other tasks to make it happen.

It’s actually gotten so bad, that I completely forgot to pay rent in November until Craig mentioned it on the 7th of the month!  That is truly not like me!

The frustrating thing is, that I sometimes feel like I don’t have control over how busy I am right now.  I mean, yes, in the long run, I DO have control . . . I can choose to not take any more VO classes, or work on my photography, but that would essentially put a halt to my chosen careers; which doesn’t seem like an option to me.  I could also fully choose to not socialize with anyone, whether by phone or in person.  But honestly, I don’t even socialize all that often as it is, so I feel like cutting even the small bit I do out would be essentially me turning into a hermit (which I don’t want to do, either).

And, even more frustrating is that I feel that the amount of stuff I consciously put on my plate would be just the “right” amount of busy . . . but unfortunately doesn’t factor in the odd thing here or there that Life brings to the plate.  Like our car breaking down, so we had to go shopping for a new one (which took up two and a half weeks, including weekends).  Or, having issues with nearly every aspect of a recent company function, so that I had to put out one fire after another, during my last two weeks at that job.

When things like that crop up in my life, I guess I don’t know what is the “right” answer.  Do I just say “screw it” about the car, and wait until life calms down?  Do I have that same attitude about things going wonky at the job?  Do I then (because I’m stretched thin as it is) pass on seeing a friend for a birthday milestone, when I haven’t seen him in almost a year?

Yes, those are all options, I know . . . but they just don’t seem like viable ones to me.  And, the thought of taking everything off my plate, so that I can be prepared for the unforeseen things that pop up makes me feel like I’m not trying to improve my life.

I’m sure there’s a middle ground, but I don’t know what it is yet.  How do I find the “Whelmed” part of life?

And believe me, I know that mine is not the only life that’s been crazy busy lately.  I’ve spoken with several individuals who–like me–can’t believe 2017 is almost over.  So many of us are feeling stressed right now, that I don’t expect sympathy from anyone, and I actually feel like there’s a “Yeah, what else is new?” aspect to the conversations I have with others about it.

So, I’d really like to find out if it’s ever possible to be just whelmed, but even that sounds stressful.  Dictionary.com has the definition of “whelm” as:

” . . .to roll or surge over something, as in becoming submerged.”
But maybe it’s not as stressful in Europe . . .

Personality Precedence

I’ve had a conundrum of sorts invading my brain for the last several weeks.  It’s not something I think about every day, but it’s often enough that I felt the need to write about it.

The issue is this:  When two people have differing views on something that affects them both, whose side wins out?  I’m not talking about grand-scale things like people being allowed to sit at a restaurant counter regardless of their skin color, because that’s a no-brainer in my opinion; discrimination is bad.  Period!

No, I’m talking more about smaller, everyday differences that usually only affect the two people involved.  Let me explain . . .

Let’s say that someone is a hugger.  Their natural instinct is to go around hugging everybody because they love spreading their joy.  Now, let’s say said hugger comes across someone who doesn’t like to be hugged, or even touched.  Whose personality gets to win?  It seems like a logical answer–the person who doesn’t like to be hugged shouldn’t be accosted if s/he doesn’t want to be–but the hugger is now denied being true to him-/herself.

Here’s another scenario . . .

My brother told me he’d seen something that made him think of me, and he bought it for me.  When he described the item to me (a leather necklace with leather dog-tags that said “Gemini” on them), it didn’t sound like anything I’d be interested in.  I don’t wear much jewelry, I’m not into leather, and I’m CERTAINLY not into dog-tag type things.  So when he asked if I wanted him to send it to me, I said “Thank you for thinking of me, but it doesn’t seem like something I’d get much use out of.”

I’ve mentioned that situation to a few people since it happened, and nearly everyone thinks I should’ve let him send it to me and then discard it without him knowing.  But my conundrum is: Why?  If I’ve acknowledged and thanked him for thinking of me (which I did several times in that conversation), why should I accept something that I’ll likely throw out, or at best will collect dust in my house?  Just so his feelings don’t get hurt?  What about my feelings?  And what about when/if he finds out later that I tossed said gift away?  Then his feelings will DEFINITELY be hurt.

Since that incident, other things have come up that make me ponder which side is more “right” than the other, or which personality should take precedence.  For example:

  • Should someone with a dietary restriction accept personally harmful food from another person just to make the giver feel good about their gift?  And then do what, just throw it away after the giver is gone?
  • Same question for someone who’s trying to lose weight . . . Should they accept food from a “food pusher” (who likely equates food with love), just so the pusher’s feelings aren’t hurt?
  • Should a teenage girl have to walk around school all day with her grandparents, just because it’s happened in the past?  What if the girl would feel crappy all day, because she’d have to put on a facade just to please the grandparents?

One of the first times this question arose in me was when I learned about customs when traveling to several Asian countries.  I learned that–if you dine with a Chinese family–it’s expected that you eat everything that’s offered to you.  And if you refuse something, it’s considered very rude.  Well, I’m a picky eater.  Always have been.  So why are the cook’s feelings more important than my comfort?  Why should I have to eat food that I might find disgusting just to appease someone else’s feelings?

I don’t really have an answer to this, but it seems to me that most people think you should just “suck it up” and not make the other person feel bad.  But the problem is, in every one of those scenarios, SOMEONE will likely end up feeling badly.  So, again, who’s feelings take more precedence?

And, more importantly, WHY should people just “suck it up?”  Why isn’t it enough to just acknowledge and appreciate someone’s efforts or good thoughts?  To basically say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

I’d honestly like to hear your opinions on this, dear readers.  I’m not interested in Miss Manners’ take on this (I’ll tell you why I can’t STAND that person in another blog), but I’d like to hear real people’s thoughts on the subject.

Doing Better

Ms. Angelou has lots of wonderful words of inspiration, but this quote has been swimming around in my head a lot lately.  Always interested in being the best human being I can be, I’ve read a lot of self-help books.  In nearly every case, I’ve grown because of them, and learned to “do better” in my life.

I’m going to share some of the ones that have led to the biggest improvements.

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

This was the first self-help book I remember reading.  It might not technically be considered a self-help book, but so much of what was said in there spoke to me in profound ways.  Through this book, I learned about many Zen teachings, and how to accept that the body that is Alyx Morgan is completely separate from the energy (or soul, or whatever ethereal word you want to use) that’s currently living in it.  That helped me to not fear death or to become too attached to things in this life . . . it’s been SO freeing!

Shortly after a major breakup in my late 20s, I read a series of relationship-based self-help books that also helped me learn things about myself:

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray, Ph.D.

I found so much of what Dr. Gray says in this book helped me to understand the reasons for my emotional needs, but also to not expect my future mate to know exactly what I wanted or needed from him . . . I needed to be able to speak up and make my needs known.  Before this book, I used to think that if someone “really loved me” they would automatically read my mind and give me what I needed . . . how wrong I was.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

This book was such a HUGE eye opener for me.  I’d never before considered that people spoke different “languages” of love, but he spelled it out in such a way that I could easily see which love languages I speak.  This added on to Dr. Gray’s book so that I knew how best to phrase my needs to my potential mate.

The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz

Aahhhhh, this lovely little book.  While this book is technically a relationship-based book, it’s SO much more.  It’s not just about our relationship with other people, it’s more about the relationship we have with ourselves, and how to love yourself enough that you don’t feel the desperate need for love from others (something I’d done most of my life).

There’s one self-help book that I haven’t read all the way through yet:

The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford

I’ve started reading this book several times, but have never finished it, so maybe I’m still not ready for all of the lessons in its pages.  But the biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from this book is to embrace my “bad” traits as well as my “good” ones.  That there are times it’s perfectly okay to be a “bitch,” or “needy,” or “angry.”  Every human being is made up of multiple facets, and as long as we don’t judge them, we can see where they are useful.  For instance, if I feel someone is trying to take advantage of me, that’s the perfect opportunity for me to let out my anger and/or inner bitch, to let whoever know that I won’t be taken advantage of.  Yes, eventually I’ll learn how to do that without the aggression, but there’s still nothing wrong with said aggression.  Accepting all facets of myself has been extremely helpful in not beating myself up.

As for the last book I’ll discuss in today’s blog . . .

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

I’m currently reading this book and it’s answering SO many of the remaining questions I’ve had as to many of my behavioral characteristics.  I had suspected that my relationship with my mother was codependent to some extent, but reading this book I can see just how pervasive my codependency is.  In the book, I’ve found several keys for releasing myself from the chains that have held me for such a long time, and I feel like I’ll be able to work through most of the rest of my issues with the lessons I’m learning here.  I’ve been noticing the places where I’m acting in a codependent manner, and have already begun making different choices in my actions and reactions to situations and people.  I had originally checked this book out of our local library, but it will be owned and sitting on our bookshelf very soon.

These books have helped me grow over the years, and I’m forever grateful to them.  Are there any books you’ve read that have taught you things, or helped you to “know better,” and subsequently “do better?”  Please let me know, and maybe I can add them to my bookshelf, too.  😉

Celebrating (?) Alcohol

Today’s post is going to delve into some songs . . . namely songs that seem to endorse drinking or being drunk.  Please know, before I go any further, that I’m not against alcohol, or drinking.  I just don’t understand why people seem to like songs that celebrate it.  Maybe it’s because I personally don’t drink anymore, and so don’t have those experiences to connect to.

I did drink for a while.  From the ages of 14 to 17, I used to drink with my mom and our friends (especially when we’d get together for a bonfire).  This was because–when my mom found out that I’d had my first rum and Coke–she pulled me aside and said that she would buy for me, but only if I drank at home, so I could find my limit in a safe space.  I think this was a VERY wise thing to do, because 1) she’d make sure I wasn’t out driving under the influence, nor riding with anyone who was; and 2) she’d made the subject of drinking a safe one, rather than turning it into a taboo that a teenager would want to test out.

So anyway, I started drinking early and quit early as well.  It was a summer night up at the cabin, and my mom, our friends and I were there for a long weekend.  We sat around a bonfire down by the lake, and I’d had 6 Screwdrivers (more vodka than OJ), half a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 Grape, and half a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 Orange (think of the cheapest “wine” you can find).  I didn’t feel any of it go down, and apparently I blacked out so that people had to carry me back up to the cabin and put me to bed.  The next morning, I had no headache.  No hangover.  No amount of “paying” for the night before.  That scared the crap out of me and I haven’t touched a drop since.

So, maybe because I started so young, I missed all the “fun” of alcohol and being drunk, or maybe I’ve spent enough years without it to see things with clearer eyes.  I don’t know, but that–coupled with my love of knowing song lyrics–makes it so that I often can’t “enjoy” songs about drinking.

For instance:

Margaritaville, by Jimmy Buffet (lyrics in the video)

I’ve hated this song with a passion ever since I can remember.  I’ve also had a strong dislike of Mr. Buffet for a long time, as well, mostly because of this song (which I admit was the only thing I knew by him for a long time).  The lyrics have him talking about a “beauty” of a tattoo that he can’t remember getting, and later he talks about cutting his heel because of a broken flip flop, but he doesn’t worry because “. . . there’s booze in the blender, And soon it will render that frozen concoction that helps me hang on.”  Ugh.

Friends in Low Places, by Garth Brooks (lyrics here)

There are TONS of Country songs that espouse the “benefits” of drinking or being drunk, but this one was such a favorite when I frequented a karaoke bar back in Michigan, that it just strikes me as the penultimate “drinking makes everything better” song.  I mean, the guy in the song shows up drunk to someone’s wedding, causes a scene (even though he says he didn’t mean to), and then slinks away to some bar “. . . where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away . . .”

Marry You, by Bruno Mars (lyrics in the video)

This song also falls into what I call the (Not) Love Songs category.  It’s a catchy tune and I enjoyed it for the most part (too repetitive) until I fully listened to the lyrics recently.  It’s basically a song about two people so drunk (possibly in Vegas, I haven’t seen the video) that they’re going to do something “dumb” and get married.  He doesn’t know if it’s “. . . the look in your eyes, or is it this dancing juice . . .” and he doesn’t care.  And, he also doesn’t care if you want to “. . . break up after you wake up.”  I mean, seriously?!?!?  I’m sure there are people who’ve had this as their wedding song, because he says “I think I wanna marry you” so many times.  But honestly . . . If someone says they think they want to marry you . . . wait until they’re certain.  PLEASE!

But Craig introduced me to a song that seems more honest about getting drunk:

Alcohol, by Brad Paisley (lyrics here)

I’m not normally a fan of Country music, but everything I’ve heard by Brad has been pretty funny and good (I’d liken his writing style to Train for pop music), and this song is no exception.  Here’s the true (and sometimes funny) story of what happens when you let alcohol be your “medicine.”  A sample of the lyrics:  “You had some of the best times you’ll never remember with me . . . alcohol.”

So, let me state again that I’m not against alcohol.  Not at all.  What I am against is the celebration of the foolish things that drinking too much can make you do.  But maybe I just can’t relate because I got scared shitless for not having a limit and not paying for it one night back in 1987 (a problem that I know many people wish they had).

And I’m okay not relating.  I’ll sit over here with my water, thank you very much.

Smooth Sailing

When I was younger, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d be such a fan of cruising as a form of vacation.  I’d seen the commercials with Kathy Lee, and wondered why anyone would want to spend several days on a big ship out in the water.  The thought of visiting a hot, tropical island was never very appealing to this girl, who sweats in anything above 80 degrees, and I don’t think I was aware then that cruises stopped at locales other than the Caribbean.

Plus–as much as I like the water–I honestly thought I’d go stir-crazy if I were stuck on a boat for 7 days.  Of course . . . that was before I realized just how much stuff the cruise lines like to pack into each and every day.

So, while I never thought I’d do too much cruising in my life, I’ve been on three cruises in about five years.  Heck . . . if we include the one I’m on right now, that’s four in five years!

I’m not sure why it never would’ve occurred to me that I’d enjoy this.  There’s plenty of stuff to do on the boat; plenty of activities or excursions to partake in at each port of call.  Plus, the ship is large enough that you’re sure to find a nice, quiet area, if you’re looking for solitude.

That’s something I DEFINITELY took advantage of on my last cruise.  I took a 7-day Mexican cruise for my birthday last year . . . by myself.  Craig was also looking for some alone time, and didn’t feel he could take the time away from work, so I went off on my own.  There had been so much stress in my life for the previous two years, and I just didn’t want to be around people too much.  So–with a couple of exceptions–my days looked like this:

Wake up
Go to buffet area to eat breakfast
Go back to room
Read until I fall asleep
Wake up
Go to buffet area to eat lunch
Go back to room
Watch movie or read until I fall asleep
Wake up
Go to restaurant for dinner
Go back to room
Sleep

I’m not kidding you . . . that was my life for that week.  There was an 80s Music Trivia Challenge that I participated in (lost by one point), and I did step off the boat in our two ports of call; Cabo San Lucas (AWESOME snorkeling), and Puerto Vallarta (found a cool cemetery to photograph).  Otherwise, I kept to myself 80% of the time.  And let me tell you, I NEEDED it.  Toward the end of the cruise, my system must have been rested, because I was doing more reading than sleeping when I was in my room, but I still enjoyed the peace and quiet.  And I’ve found myself longing for another “do almost nothing” cruise lately, though this time I’d be okay with Craig joining me . . . cuz he desperately needs it right now.

But the cruise we’re on now is a bit more exotic.  We’re somewhere in the middle of a 14-day European cruise.  Craig and I wanted to take Athena to Europe, and she seems to like cruises, so we let her pick out the route.  We leave out of Southampton, UK, and stop in Gibraltar, Nice, 3 places in Italy, Spain, and Portugal.  Craig and I definitely have our cameras at the ready, and I hope to come back with a TON of cool photos to boost my photography career.  But, more importantly, about half of the days will be At Sea.  While we’ll definitely spend some time together as a family (this is Athena’s last summer as a high school student, and she’ll soon be off to college), we’ve also got our own agendas for the At Sea days.  Athena will likely spend it with the teen group on the boat, or in the pool as much as possible.  Craig will also spend some time at the pool, or stippling in a corner somewhere, and he’s discovered that there’s a miniature golf course on the boat.

As for me?  Well, I’ll probably join Craig on a few activities here and there on the boat, but I’m also packing 3 or 4 books for me to hole up with in our room . . . before I fall asleep.

Why Dating Sucks

I’ve never been a big fan of “dating.”  It sounds nice and romantic (especially the way some movies portray it)–you meet someone, maybe for dinner, you chat, you feel (or don’t feel) an attraction, you decide if you want to see him/her again–but it’s always seemed so superficial to me.  Very few people are honest about who they are on a first date (or third, fifteenth, etc.), instead opting to put their “best foot forward,” so you run the risk of getting into someone and then months of investment later find out that s/he is an alcoholic, thrice divorced person who likes to hunt, was mean to cats as a child, and oh by the way, is your third cousin.

And it’s not always great when people are completely honest with you up front, either.  I’ve had first dates where the guy told me how wonderful he thought I was, and how he could see the two of us married with several children (EEK!), or yet another who put his leg over the arm of his chair, essentially flashing his manhood to me, while telling me that my lack of interest in having sex on a first date was because I was sexually repressed.  (UGH!)

So, for me, I’ve always preferred getting to know a guy and be friends with him for a while before finding out if we’d be compatible in a sexual relationship.  Any relationship I’ve had that started out as dating first was very short-lived.  But the men whom I’ve truly loved in my life started out as friends.  And as much as they probably hated being relegated to the Friend Zone, I needed to know they would still like me, even if I later found out they didn’t want to take the relationship to the next level.

I’m sure a large reason I did this was my fear of being abandoned, but I also know it was partly due to me not wanting to waste my time on someone with whom I wouldn’t be compatible.  While some people might be okay playing that game over and over again, for months (or even years) at a time, that’s just never held any appeal for me.  Which is a good thing, because back when I was younger, I was still looking for someone, ANYONE to love me; because I apparently didn’t, and for some reason felt I needed someone else to do so before I could.

That’s one of the MANY reasons I’m so glad to be happily married to my wonderful, life-long friend, Craig.  We started out as friends 31 years ago, and traveled along a very circuitous route to find each other (for the third time) in 2009.  When we were married 3 years later, it was one of the best days of my life, and these last 5 years have been wonderful!  We’ve had our ups and downs, but they’ve been minor, and through all of it, I know that I’ll never love like this again in this lifetime.  The support, friendship, laughter, and memories we’ve shared and created together have helped to heal so many of my early wounds.

So, as our Anniversary is coming nigh, I wanted to take this chance to say that I’m happy that I think dating sucks, and that it never “worked out” with any of the other men in my life.  I’ve found my soul mate, and I’m looking forward to the next 5, 10, 50 years together.

I love you, baby!

 

 

The Pervasive Boob Tube

I’m warning you now . . . today’s post is going to be a bit of a rant.  And it’s about the love/hate relationship that I have with TV.

I grew up in the 70s, right around the time that TV started to get really “good,” with lots of fun and educational programming to choose from.  I learned Spanish and sign language from Sesame Street.  The Electric Company’s Easy Reader helped instill in me a love for reading (thanks, Mr. Freeman!).  And to this day, I still sing several of the Schoolhouse Rock songs at the most random times.

We also had amazing cartoons; from the three-hour Bugs Bunny/Road Runner marathons on Saturday mornings, to all the Hanna-Barbera shows where mysteries got solved by those “meddlesome kids.”  And throughout the late 70s and early 80s there was some great pabulum to be seen in the form of prime-time viewing (though now, so many of the shows I loved back then seem dated . . . and not in a good way).

And being of the “latchkey kid” generation, the TV got turned on as soon as I got home from school.  I would try to turn it off to do my chores, but that usually wound up happening 30 minutes before my mother was due home from work.  Sometimes I scrambled fast enough that I was able to get the cleaning done in one commercial break.

I still enjoy watching TV . . . to a certain extent.  In fact, right now there are more shows that I enjoy watching than at any other time that I can recall.  Some of that is due to the sheer number of channels available, but some of it is due to the better writing that has come out of Hollywood lately.

No, my complaint with regards to the boob tube is that it’s begun to infect every single corner of our lives.

People have been watching shows on their cell phones for the last few years now . . . which strikes me as weird, since we used to complain about the tiny size of the available screens back in the 70s.  I just can’t make peace with watching something on a screen 4 times smaller than I had when I was little.

But even worse is that TVs are now cropping up in restaurants, grocery stores and who KNOWS where else!  I can understand the concept of having TVs at a sports bar . . . because that’s why people go to a sports bar . . . to watch their team’s event.  But why does it need to be in other restaurants?  There are a couple diners here in Alameda that have multiple TVs playing any time I go in there.  And Craig just told me about a recent experience at a Burger King, where there were TVs in there playing 2- and 3-minute clips of various shows . . . followed by several minutes of commercials.

And THAT’S what I hate the most about this new trend . . . the advertising!  It’s bad enough that there are more commercial breaks in TV shows now than before.  But–if the Burger King incident is any indication–pretty soon it’ll be 5-10 minutes of TV show surrounded by 20 minutes of commercials.  That trend started to irk me when it infiltrated my sacred movie theaters over a decade ago.  Though, that one I’m willing to put up with so that I can be sure to get my favorite seats when I see a film . . . but I do tend to focus on something else if I can.

But I don’t know that I’ll be okay with the trend of restaurants playing TVs all the time.  I’m actually considering a boycott of restaurants that have said distraction in multiple areas of their establishment.  Craig pointed out that I don’t need an even narrower group of places I can eat (due to my dietary restrictions), but I might be willing to make that sacrifice.  It really irks me to have to vie for someone’s attention when I’m dining out with them (and I don’t care who you are, you’re bound to get distracted by the boob tube . . . it’s designed that way).  It just seems rude and unnecessary to “have” to be connected to the idiot box all the damn time!  Talk to the people you’re dining with, for crissakes!

And, even if I’m dining by myself, I’d much rather have peace and quiet so I can read my book or magazine and not have my attention keep getting pulled away by whatever is being said on the television.

In writing about this now, I realize that I’ve actually started strategically seating myself to where I’m the one in sight of the TV . . . because I know I won’t be as distracted as the other person might (or, at least I think that’s true . . . who knows?).  I hate realizing that I feel the need to think that far ahead about that sort of thing, because that puts me on the defensive already.

So, while I’m okay with TV being a distraction in the home, I don’t need or want said distraction to follow me when I’m going out for a nice meal.  Heck, even a mediocre meal (no offense, BK), deserves more attention than having a TV on in the background provides.

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