Monday, October 25, 2010

Warning to All Those Persons Related to Me: You May Want to Skip this Blog.

The strangest thing happened to me in Mississippi last weekend.

I was visiting Ivan, my younger brother, and his new bride Alexia. They were having a party to celebrate their nuptials with all their southern friends, and a few of their northern friends. I was standing in a corner, taking it all in (and by taking it all in I really mean sending mass text messages to my friends) when I overheard one of Ivan’s friends say to Ivan, “I’m gonna break her.”

To which Ivan replied, “Good luck with that.” And walked away.

Now, I can’t be 100 percent sure they were talking about me. I started paying attention only midway through the conversation. But something other than my own inflated ego told me I was the her he was looking to break. Maybe it was the way the friend was behaving toward me earlier or maybe it was the way Ivan grimaced and then walked away. Either way, this feeling was later confirmed by (in my own inflated ego's opinion) by all the attention this friend continued to pay me.

And while I still find it strange that men are attracted to me, that wasn’t what has been bothering me since overhearing this conversation. What has been keeping me up at night (in addition to the upper respiratory infection I picked up on the airplane ride home) was my reaction to it.
Readers, I wasn’t righteously indignant or offended or affronted or angry or any of those things I think I should have been.

I was turned on.

Let me be perfectly clear, before that moment, I wasn’t the least bit attracted to this guy. Sure he was tall and Marie thinks he's good looking (her actual response to his picture was “giddy-up”). But he was also wearing cowboy boots and Croakies and a collared shirt tucked into way too faded blue jeans. Furthermore, I have never found a southern accent charming.

But four little words later and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I had to give myself the “this is Ivan’s friend, Tatiana,” pep-talk followed by the “he has a girlfriend, Tatiana" pep-talk repeated several times over the course of the next couple of hours. And, honestly, if I wasn’t so very afraid of the Cowboy, those two talks may have failed me completely.

Thank god I still have my fear to keep me in check.

So, once I sobered up on the flight home I started to think about why I was so affected by the Cowboy. I had already been thinking a lot about the whole generation of guys phenomenon as I was surrounded by my brother’s friends, most of whom were definite guys (some are still borderline boys). And I’m not about to suggest that the Cowboy was a man – he’s more a leader of the guys.

No, I wasn’t thinking the Cowboy was a man, but of another conversation all together that Bob and I have had on a number of occasions. And because our recent conversation about guys versus men was already on my mind, this other conversation may have been lurking not far behind.

The second conversation always starts innocently enough -- what am I looking for in a guy. This inevitably turns into me listing the things I liked about my ex-boyfriends and the things I couldn’t stand about them. And because it is Bob, and because we have had one too many glasses of wine, it moves to the bedroom. While I am not about to say that my exes have been disappointing, none of them have been the sort that would throw you (me) down on the bed (or against a wall) and, for a lack of a better phrase, fuck you (me).

And I know this isn’t very feminist of me, but sometimes a girl really needs that.

Now, over the course of the last two years I have been on several dates with guys who couldn’t even make a plan, leaving me to pick the time and the place of our dates. And, whether it’s laziness or a lack of confidence, I assume if you won’t pick a place for us to meet for a drink, you aren’t going to be the sort that is ever going to pull my hair or smack my ass.

So maybe, when I heard those four little words I realized that before me stood a man that would probably do both. It’s the only thing I can come up with. That in that moment, as my subconscious raced through the last several years of dates with wishy-washy wusses and being almost completely in control of my life almost all of the time for as long as I can remember, it was attracted to the Cowboy who could offer me a break from both.

At that moment, I wonder what it would be like to be broken.

Who am I kidding? I'm still wondering.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Change Me (Revisited)

It would seem some clarification to my last post is needed. Let me make it perfectly clear that I am in no way suggesting I need to change in order to find someone. I merely realized that in order to have a successful relationship, I must be open to the idea of change.

This probably seems like a no-brainer to most of you and you are wondering why I would even need to blog about such an obvious realization (let alone blog about it twice). Maybe you are even questioning my intellect because it took me so long to discover this.

Let me explain. In the past, nothing has frightened me more (not even cats) than the idea of a guy changing me. Before this realization, I couldn’t stand when my friends changed for guys. I would gag when I got into a friend’s car and heard them blaring the latest CD from their latest boyfriend’s favorite band. I would roll my eyes when one of them would show up for a run wearing a ball cap from their boyfriend’s favorite baseball team.

Now mind you, the friend with the new CD loves music, and the band was pretty good. The friend with the baseball hat has no soul and therefore never followed baseball before she met her now-husband. So it wasn’t as if they were putting aside their thoughts and feelings on a particular matter to side with their current beau. But at the time I couldn’t see that.

Meanwhile, when I would declare to my mother that I would probably never get married, but if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be in a church, and she would ask, what if it is important to your fiancĂ©? My response: well, I can’t imagine it would be important to my fiancĂ©, but if it were, he would have to understand my feelings on the matter. If he couldn’t accept them – we wouldn’t get married.

My mom would counter: What if it is important to his mother? Or his grandmother?

Me: I think I would be concerned that he was putting his mother’s feelings in front of my own.

And no, I’m not kidding. This is taken from an actual conversation I had with my mother.

I even took it a step further. It was a personal affront to me when Douche Bag said he could never date a smoker. Never mind that I hadn’t had a cigarette in more than a year and DB knew I had been a smoker. I still saw red and remember those words ringing in my ears a couple nights later when I asked Bridie if I could bum a cigarette from her.

Yes, my fear of changing for a guy is so powerful, that I would actually pick back up a deadly habit just so I could then crow that I won’t let a man tell me what I can and can’t do.

Keeping this aversion to change in mind, I am sure you will believe me now when I say I have no intention of changing myself just so I can find someone. Instead, my post was about how I now realize that once I meet that someone special, I will probably change

I have even started my list of areas where I would be willing to bend. As predicted it isn’t very long.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Change Me

I have been thinking a lot about relationships recently. For the first time in my brief history on this planet, more of my friends are in relationships than are single (unless of course you count eighth grade when everyone but me had a boyfriend). And as I thought about these friends and their relationships and talked to other friends (and sometimes my mom), I started to see a common theme. Well, I didn't really see it as first. It was more like I could feel there was something there that I was missing. Like looking at one of those 3-D pictures they have at the fair. You stare and stare and you know you are suppose to see a sailboat, but you just don't.

Until you do.

I was going over a recent conversation I had with one of my few remaining single girlfriends. We were talking about a mutual acquaintance and his relationship and she said, rather cynically, “I doubt that is what he signed on for when he joined”

I’m sure she was right. I’m sure when he pictured in his mind the sort of relationship he wanted, the one he was currently in didn’t spring to mind. At the same time, our mutual acquaintance didn’t seem the least bit bitter. Quite the opposite – he is happy and excited. And why shouldn’t he be? He is in love, I argued with myself. He has found an amazing and wonderful woman that loves him and wants to spend the rest of her life with him. So he will be a little inconvenienced for a bit. Is that really worth giving up all the rest of it?

That is when it hit me – like an apple falling from the tree that I was resting under – maybe the only way we can fit together is if we are all willing to adjust. And by all, I really mean me.

Now, I have long given up on the whole idea of a soul mate – that there is one perfect person out there for all of us. Until that moment, though, I did believe there was someone out there that was going to love me just the way I am. That he was going to fit perfectly into my lovely little life I created and I was going to fit just as neatly into his.

As I typed that I realized my silliness makes looking for one’s soul mate seem practical.

We have all heard countless times that you can’t expect to change someone. This is typically given to us as advice when we are annoyed or frustrated with a partner. Sometimes, as if often the case with my mom, it is given more as an I-told-you-so. Either way, we have heard it so many times we have all accepted it to be true – and who are we kidding? It is true. But somewhere along the line, I got to believing that the inverse was all true. That so long as I don’t expect to change someone, I won’t be expected to change. However, I’m beginning to understand that I got this bit wrong (and algebra has once again failed to serve any practical purpose in my life).

I’m still working through all the details and consequences of my realization. For instance, what are things that I am willing to change? What are things I am absolutely unwilling to change? (I imagine this list will be quite a bit longer). How much change can still be called “good change”? My guess is it comes when you wake up one morning and no longer recognize yourself in the mirror (or worse, no longer like who you see staring back at you). Or maybe it goes back to that list of things you are absolutely unwilling to change. If you find yourself compromising on more and more of those items, your change has gone bad.

Of course these are just theories as I have never bent on anything in a relationship. (Insert bad joke about bending over plenty of things here if you must. But keep ‘em clean folks, my dad reads this blog).

An Open Letter to AT&T

Dear AT&T,

I noticed on Sunday that you renamed the Pattison station, AT&T station. I’m not going to point out to you just how ridiculous this is and that no one will actually call it AT&T station, but instead will continue to call it Pattison station. Much like the way no one calls MLK Drive anything but West River (well, except those few individuals who are new to the area and get lost when anyone gives them directions involving West River).

I do have one question, though. Why is it, on Sunday, on my way home from the Eagles’ game, I couldn’t send or receive any text messages while I waited for the northbound local? Meanwhile, Marie, who has Verizon, had no problems. I would think, while standing in a station named after my wireless carrier, I would be the one with the better service.

Just curious.