a bad case of reflectionitis.
11 November 2006
  I've Moved!

i designed muhself. please come and comment and support me on my new blog. hopefully i will be more consistent, productive and make progress worth mentioning with this one.
09 November 2006
  Peace out.
I'm sick of this ugly thing, officially. I'm saving up some green to find myself a designer (albeit an amatuer and low-charging one) to help me start over. I need structure, I need a set theme, I want white space and a tale-telling image. I want categories. I want to be an organized Blogger. I'm packing my bags and leaving this here so I can redirect you nerdbombs once I relocate at a classier, more savvy locale. Be good.

Peace out.

- SP
27 October 2006
  Sad Nauseam
I often wonder if the reason I write is to celebrate sadness. Sadness is an emotion so true. When I am sad, I am somewhat connected to joy in a sense. Joy is often a high, an extremely fortunate moment. Perhaps I celebrate and chronicle my sadness because the depth of it all is a type of fortune. Crazies who ride rollercoasters and enter haunted houses insist it’s a thrill to survive. Being upside down 200 feet in the air then walking away without a bump or bruise says “Wow, I’m alive!”
Sadness does the same for me.

The years I did best in school were my saddest. Why? Sadness motivates me, sadness forces me to writhe into the dark nooks of my mind, into only my own desire, my own need to succeed or define the daily. When I am sad, I can get anything done. Wax the floor, organize anything left unkempt, write a novel. Feeling down inspires a strong demand for improvement. When I’m down, I want to be better. I want to cure the temporary pleasurepain that consumes my world. I feel the sadness, pull it together, then I look like I’d never cried or had a reason to cry at all.

Because tears can be wiped away and pain can be erased with words. Vicki Lynn argues that I can get over anything in record time, perhaps worth Guiness Book merit. Dead people, being a rock-throwing target, witnessing infidelity, losing everything to an unquenchable drug addiction, years haunted by evil and sleepless, panicked nights. With the blink of an eye, the licking of a tear-soaked lip, and the secure tying of my shoes, I can walk away from sadness and pain like they never happened.

I am not the kind of person who bottles their emotions then goes home and cries for hours. I am the kind of person who bottles their emotions, bottles their emotions once they should be going home and crying, then waits for the planets of Murphy’s Law to align to call Mommy, cry for an hour, then get over it. Right before the call, I’ve historically grabbed my journal and run to a location public enough to keep me from crying but private enough in case I might need to feel the sensation of puddles resting on my bottom lashes. The feeling of crying has produced my best work. The feeling of crying inspires me to render dramatic phrases and hurry up with what I have to say so I can run home.

Hurry up and enjoy this sad moment while you can, Sara. Any second now, you’ll be over it, then you’ll have to smile it all off. You’ll go back to being a bumpkin of blasé phrases and unimpressive metaphors.

I am special when I am sad. Feeling down, being the victim of something extraordinary – this is my ticket to a fully-saturated life. A fully saturated life and soaked t-shirt to boot. When I cry, I don’t lie to anyone. When I am heaved over my knees staring at my unpedicured toes, rocking rhythmically, the truth is apparent. My truth is mended on bathroom floors, curled up in balls, hunched over legal pads. Not because the truest emotion is sadness, but because the most novel my life has been was during the sadness. I cannot be wise, undefeated or colorful if I’ve been happy all my life. To call my life’s greatest tragedy the death of my 18 year old Golden Retriever would be so disappointing. It would be so Leave it to Beaver. I prefer that life only look so good and be revealed as a rather unordinary and effed-up occasion. Perhaps this is a reason I watch American Beauty on a regular basis. A $750,.000 box and two smiling parents doesn’t necessarily mean apple pies and flower beds.

Only when I hunker down and let the sadness sink in can I be reminded that I am a good person, a great success. We all want to give ourselves credit for the turbulence of growth. To say that all I experienced was the bog of humanity would be a lie, an insult, a complete dismissal of the millions who don’t even know what it means to be happy. But what I did experience follows me, what I do experience reminds me, and what I will experience will improve me.

Because when things get to sucking and I’m singing the blues all over town in coffee shops and under yellow lamps, I can recreate the truths that makes me love the past. I can pay tribute to what has given me me. I am sad, and I know what’s really going on. I know that I’ve reached a point of important change. So I jot down a few paragraphs, pages, books of what did it, why I let it, and what I’ll do about its. I write myself out of holes, even after what I’ve written has gotten me down into them. I let myself feel sad with strategically colored pencils, expensive art pens and expensive lattes. I prepare for the sadness so I can discover myself more deeply. So I won’t make the same mistakes again. So the tears will be new tears rather than ad nauseam. Each time I am sad, I learn something new and I know myself a little bit better.

Sadness reminds me of the things in my life that make it worth thoughts on paper. So I write on paper. And my life feels worth it.
26 October 2006
I walked around corners expecting to see you there.
But you weren't.

Just like those Christmas seasons when Mom would tell me we were poor, so I thought she was planning a big surprise Christmas filled with presents.
But she wasn't.

Perhaps I too easily allow my mind to ruin surprises. I have to know everything. So I overanalyze your comments about the weather and allow my wish that you'd be here sooner consume me.

I think you're playing a game with me,
that you say you are somewhere else doing other things.
I think you're teasing me by asking questions about the train stop to get to my work.

You won't be here until Saturday (or Sunday).
Why would you ask me this unless it was a tease,
Unless you had tulips in hand and were traveling in my direction?
Unless you are trying to entice me.
You love it when I squirm and show anxious emotion about us.

So I swivel in a chair clenching my jaw,
Tapping my fingers,
Bouncing my knees frantically.
Half-crazed, one-hundred percent sure you aren't here.
But I'm letting the hope sink in and fool my better judgment.
I'm pretending you'll be under the tree.
Because the thought of you waiting for me fills me with a presence I have never known.
21 September 2006
I told him I wouldn't say I love you when I hung up the phone.
He told me to have a good life.

What a lie.
15 September 2006
  Help Me.
Do I have any readers with good html skills? I would like to design my own web page. This business is so outdated. I can't vibe with ugly.
01 September 2006
  Oh, the things I'd do to you.
When Janet Jackson came back from her first get fit quick hibernation in the late 80s, she was svelte. Svelte is the only word to describe the ridges that replaced lumps and the smooth cocoa skin she revealed somewhere between her tattered jeans and sandy, sophisticated hair. A busty, fragile-waisted woman emerged where a timid and frumpy teenager once was. I remember seeing her music video, age six, understanding what sexy meant. Love Will Never Do (Without You) featured an ancient-like tribal man with a long neck and muscular legs and a desert of Janet Jackson’s subtle side smile and seductive hip movements. When she later released the self-titled album Janet, she was officially crowned a racy, sexual creature with a provocative message. She was calling the shots on her album, telling men what to do, taking control and letting everyone know she was sought after. She got credit for saying a lot of things she wouldn’t have said before, that most women wouldn’t say. She appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with some man’s hands covering her nipples. But I don’t think she’s ever been sexier than Love Will Never Do. A little midriff, fallen strands of hair, an innocent smile – those things go a long way. A lot longer than jumping out of doors looking like She Ra, bossing men around like slaves and telling them to get in line. In her debut as a swan, she really showed the ugly duckling side of herself, smiling where “sexy” would be serious, wearing jeans and a half shirt where “sexy” would have worn something leather and blatantly dominant, being simple where “sexy” would have gone crazy with details and proper lighting. Janet was humble then. She sang about love, not lust. She was art in that music video. And I will hold it on a pedestal for a long time, remembering her dainty little naval peeking out, her feminine head band holding back her long strands of hair. She looked so soft, so petite. And she did it without being a makeup goddess riding horses into a well choreographed music video of half-dressed men and women worshipping her feet. I hate the “If” video. Fine, we all danced to it and tried to imitate Janet’s sick moves, lip-synching the naughty parts, like "oh, the things I'd do to you"; but the video was just too much for me. Miss Jackson is a lot nastier when she’s admitting love and her carnal desire to be intimate. In the one-on-one sense, in a tone of voice that seems she’s letting us in on a secret, that we’re the only ones in the room. Enough of the screaming and being heard. Bring it down to the private level. Where sexy and provocative make the best impression. Sexy isn’t a revealing dance in public, it’s a hand drifting under the table to an unexpecting lap. Sexy doesn’t walk around naked, sexy puts on his shirt and lets it drape off her shoulder. Sexy is personal. It’s not a general attitude, a lesson taught for the exhibitionists of the world to get off in public. Sexy is a message. And it’s most effective when written like a folded note in cursive, not planted on a giant billboard. No man wants what’s his to be sexy for everyone. He wants what’s his to be sexy for him. To look at him a certain way. To wear perfume right there, where he likes it. To tell him that love would never do without him. Not to tell him he better get his act together and get in line because everyone wants a piece.
30 August 2006
  Because I Can Can Cannot
I was walking through boutique after boutique in a stylish little niche of Chicago yesterday, and I felt like an awkward little duckling quacking about, wet from the rain, unfashionable in my pratical walking gear.

Plain tees cost $85.
Pants cost $385.
The only dress I wanted cost $460.

Earrings became life investments, where Target used to make them cool at the price of a box of Easy Mac. I saw new accessories, like stretchy mid-drift covering belts meant to turn long shirts into dresses or dresses into long shirts worn over jeans. A lot of wool goes unspoken for on clearance racks around here. Wool is boring in a town where everyone wants to be seen. Or at least envied. And I hate wool. So clearance soon became passe, and I soon became rotten with anger.

$100 for a shirt? Kiss my ass.

I don't care how much money I make. I don't care that after paying what I have to pay every month, I'm at least $1000 in the clear. Yes, I have to make college debt disappear eventually with that expansive surplus. And yes, I should start saving some money. Sure, fashion comes at a price.

But why so indecently? I want to buy something that won't make me feel guilty. Or at least trendy beyond reasonable justification. Hand-crafted these or those and fine prints of silk and other fabrics matter to me, but the one shirt I ever spent $100 would have to be accompanied by equally stunning jeans, shoes with pretentious points, watches with bands threaded and manufactured in Milan.

Mannequins are walking around this joint, wearing what I could be wearing. Because I can wear what they wear. I make a decent wage, I have few expenses, I could fill in all those blanks will finely sewn blazers and deliciously fitted tees from snobby boutiques. But I'm not so lavish, not so flashy, not so Moulin Rouge, dancing about in my frill, drinking 'til dawn, singing "Because we can can can!" all about. I still buy canned vegetables. I don't even have cable. I can't imagine strutting around in so much prim.

I almost spent $49 at the United Colors of Benetton. On a pencil skirt. For work. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was left on the rack because I can can cannot! imagine, even for a second, that I need another skirt. But I feel sad and empty for wearing comfy shoes and dingy old green pants from Old Navy. I should probably go spend $17 on a plate of food then drink a few glasses of $7 wine. Because Sara Pellicori can handle that kind of tab. One meal: $30. Fine by me. One shirt, likely to last a while longer than an hour and a half: $100. Hell no.

I'm messed. But that's a whole nutha story...
28 August 2006
  Eating Meat
“I would be glad if he ordered for me.”
“Yeah right.”
"No, really. If my date ordered for himself, then said ‘and she’ll have the same’, I’d be glad.”
“That’s very traditional.”
“No, that’s easy. Obviously anyone who took me on a date would know I’m a meat-eater.”
“I wish I had recording equipment right now.”
“Seriously, guys. I’m not being extreme. It’d be very helpful if I didn’t have to order, and he did. That’s all. Not to mention, it says a lot if a guy is perceptive enough to know what I want. And of course, a guy wouldn’t try this at Chili’s or something. A very nice restaurant is where this would happen. And we all know he’s paying, so he might as well pick what I eat.”

I felt logical. I didn’t feel like I was stripping the female race of her dignity and independence. Or is that what it is? Am I reserving myself to old traditions in order to remain attractive to potential alpha males? I am. And for a second, that feels wrong. But I realize quickly that I’m in the right. If I want an alpha male, I need to open myself up to beta moments. Moments when I am not the head of household, moments when I’m not winning the bread, moments when I’ll also have the porterhouse steak. Perhaps, in dating, I am easily drawn to situations that alleviate confrontation. Which just so happens to mean that I take a submissive, easily-pleased role. I am easily pleased. I am submissive. I am certain that any guy who could afford to take me into an expensive restaurant overlooking a body of water or reeking of expensive wine and clean cloth, that I would be in good hands. I would be in the hands of a man who would order the wine, judge good wine service, make a brief yet meaningful toast to us, then reach his hand across the table to hold mine. This kind of man, the kind of man who I’d be head over heels infatuated with, could order my entrée. This isn’t because I’m old fashioned. This is because I’m conditional.

If you can handle the heat, stay in the kitchen. And order my dinner. Because anyone who can lasso me in close and pull out all the stops is more than equipped to make my decisions for me. I give that privilege to what I consider an elite and seasoned group of men. I don’t give that to an amateur on the first date. I don’t give that at the Cheesecake Factory. I give that to romance, chivalry, effort. There are moments when you know a man is doing something because it makes him feel like more of a man. He feels like an accomplished, successful, victorious man when he’s in the company of a beautiful woman. When he can be among the social elite, ordering the finest wines and rarest dishes. He can be a real man, with real clout, when his date’s gentle, lamb-like persona smiles humbly in his presence. He knows a thing or two about the right way to prepare a good cut of beef, he has already determined the kind of restaurant that offers the premium blend of traditional entrees with unique twists. He orders your dinner because he already knows what’s good. Just like he picked you, knowing what’s good.
  My (Your) World
I don't regret loving you. I don't regret being the person you talk to first in the morning, or the person you talk to last before you go to sleep. I don't regret the fights. I don't regret postponing us. I don't regret the lies I told. I don't regret forgiving you. I don't regret crying. I don't regret letting the skeletons loose. I don't regret meeting you. But I do regret something.

I regret letting my world be your world.

There came a point when I stopped being me and I started being yours. A point when power plays came down to tones and using the word "ya" instead of "you". Control, jealousy, leaving parties early, sleeping late because I don't know how to apologize enough and you don't know how to let go of our past. I've lost all sense of self, even when you think I'm being selfish. I can't remember the last time I left my apartment dressed in something I picked for me.

He likes it when I wear coral, I think. So I wear coral. And I keep at an arm's length around other men. And I sleep alone at night. My loneliest moments are spent waiting for you to call. In the times when I used to occupy my time and hang out with friends. The time when I used to get busy so waiting didn't feel so long. Because I used to think for myself. I used to do what I wanted to do all the time, and you came second. I spend moments with others half-assed while I text message love and miss to you. You're an eternal distraction from me being me.

And I miss me. But when I'm away from you, I miss you. So I can't make my world mine, because when it's mine, you're not in it. I guess this will have to be your world, always and forever. And we both know it will never be called our world. That'd be too easy. And that'd be too democratic to work for our passionate, romantic, jealous ways. Our world wouldn't care about opposite sex friends and waiting five years to have kids. Our world would recognize healthy paces and wait to say I love you until meeting in person. Our world would have started out in person, the way most people start relationships.

And if we called it my world, I'd hate the weight. So it has to be your world. Even if it was originally mine. Because I'm intoxicated by the moments that feel right, in all their wrongness. When I'm yours, and I give up being me.
14 July 2006
  Say Anything
I am in love with a man who loves me more than I love him. When he wants to play the "No, I love you more" game, I let him win. Because he's right. He loves me more. He says it more, he insists it more, he shows it more. He's the winner of the loving someone else more than they love you game.

And I hate it. He hates it. It's a headache. It's about to create a thing called a "break," and I don't like it one bit. I am losing something because I can't win the game. Because whenever there's a competition in love, losses double. He loses the confidence that I love him. I lose the confidence that I will ever love him enough.

But I can't give up on it.

We fight constantly about terms. About ways to say things better so they don't sting as much. I scream and he tells me to calm down. He avoids talking to avoid being screamed at, so I scream at him for not talking and letting me listen to myself breathe. He dwells on our past, and I refuse to let him get too far ahead of us in the future. Where we sit is a difficult view; one that makes believing in progress near impossible because we're always looking out. We're never looking in. He needs too much. I don't need enough. He moves too quickly because he's an adult, and I relent because I'm still a kid. I like to use the word asshole. He likes to use the phrase "have a good night."

We've recently opened the gates of long-distance relationship speak. I didn't hold back the reality of it. I told him it wouldn't work for me in the long-term. It opened a conversation/fight/crying spell that lasted until the early morning. I've never been one to cry about much of anything other than irreversible mistakes and good-byes. I've just been inducted into the Girls Who Cry So Their Boyfriend Will Understand How Upset They Are Society of America. I hate crying. But I do, the way I've watched friends do with a bewildered look on my face for years. I used to think they were silly. But now I know - sometimes you have to cry because he won't hear how sincerely upset you are until you whimper or sniffle back a box of tears. Luckily, my beau is empathetic to tears. He puts down his gloves for a second so we can hear me.

But he doesn't hear me. He only hears what he wants to hear - the bad things, the things I didn't mean, the things that hurt but weren't said hurtfully. He's a real man; his emotions are real, and he shows them. He admits hurt, he knows pain. He has no problem communciating what he wants, what he needs, what's bothersome, what's his greatest joy. I know how beautiful I am and am unsure another person will ever think I am as timeless as he does. I'm in love with the sleeves he so generously wears his heart on. But sometimes his heart is too available, too invested, too easily offended. When my mind calculates our problems and tries to solve them the Sara Way, his heart shrivels up. He becomes discouraged. I explain that one of us has to move but that can't happen until one of us lets this start out in a natural way. I suggest two weekends a month. I make it sound like a grand idea - simple, really.

And he hears me. And it reminds him that he's wanted this from the start; a year ago, when I was a self-absorbed college brat and he fell in love before he could stop himself. It reminds him of all the boys I let spend the night after telling him he couldn't. It reminds him to resent my ability to let him think I was moving after graduation, another of my grand ideas. It hurts him deeply to remember the day I told him I found a roommate, then the day I found a job, and then the sad news of my new apartment. All in a city still far away from him. The guy who would have given anything to have me, a self-absorbed college brat, in his world. He said he'd pay for every cent, fly any weekend I wanted, take me to Europe for a graduation present. He said a lot.

And all I heard was obligation. I felt the weight of a lengthy commitment to a man whose two-dimensional box popped onto my screen one day then changed my entire perspective on the three-dimensional world. I'd never even met him back when he'd tell me he was in love, he wanted kids, he knew something had brought him to me. Back then, he was the one with simple plans. Back when I thought things were so complicated - the near end of a college education, the pressure to find a job, to make every moment count, to be someone big. I wanted to do it all right where I could, and I told him bluntly he wasn't number one. He stuck around because I guaranteed that it was temporary, my selfish way. My tendency to over-prioritize. Every opportunity we had to make something work, something made it not work. Namely, my ability to run away from my fears. But he kept coming back, kept loving me, kept reassuring that he'd never give up. So I kept taking my time.

I took my time. And now I'm here. At the point I'm supposed to be ending my temporary delays. I'm finally ready to make something work, to commit. But I'm moving to a new city, with a new job - where he will not be. I feel ready, I feel invested, I can call him seven times a day without feeling like it's a a burden. I want it. More than ever. Now that I'm here, he's not. He feels betrayed and tired. He's been put through a lot. He's apprehsive. I told him it'd work out. But I never told him it'd work out my way. I never warned that I just wanted to wait until I felt ready to put the official stamp on this thing. He's all watered down after a long stay on the back burner. And just as I'm about to get this cooking on the front; just as I'm ready to play I Love You More, it's void.

I made him wait. I made him promise. I turned everything upside down. And then I told him I was ready on my own terms. The selfish way never ends. I still refuse to compromise things that will make us right. For example, rejecting a week-long stay with him because I want to hang out with my friends (dramatically, for the last time) before I move an hour and a half away from them. I've been a year and 800 miles away from him and rejected our free week. I did it again. I told him I'd give it all, then I gave him half. He deserves to be cold. He deserves to want a break. He deserves a thousand apologies.

And despite my empathy, I can't help but clench my jaw and feel angry. He's been so strong and in love, so voluntary and unconditional. But he hasn't been John Cusack. He's said it so many times, that he loves me. He's told me he'd fly around the world, go the hell, move to my time zone. But he hasn't jumped on the plane. He hasn't thrown a stone at my window. He hasn't written me love letters or bought me flowers. He's been idle. His zeal about my companionship doesn't go beyond his ability to explain my beauty, his depth of pain, his yearning to spend every waking hour with me. I've never given him the chance to make me believe in it, the way John Cusack does in the last 15 minutes of every movie he's appeared in. Now I am giving him the chance. And he's not at my doorstep with a boombox high over his head, the way he's told me time and time again he sees himself. This romance isn't hopeless. Now's the time to make it work, the time to be here. I'm capable of winning the "I love you more" game. I'm waiting, for the first time.

Maybe he'll show up.
09 July 2006
  control freak
i told my doctor i was considering becoming sexually active. and that i wanted to be tested for infections and prescribed a minimal dose of estrogen to control birth. he told me a pill a day is no way to keep STIs away. i agreed to use protection on top of my monthly investment. this conversation took place right after he pulled out a combination of strange tools and tubes and right before he felt me up professionally. i wasn't nervous or scared. i wore my game face, brought the right questions, appreciated the fact that he warmed his hands up before he checked for lumps in my breasts. it was the most grown-up i've been about any activity in a long time, and it (strangely) felt good to be responsible. and in control. i told my doctor what i wanted, he told me what i could have. he openly asked me about oral sex. i openly told the truth. i thought it was cool, kind of. my doctor said oral sex. i wanted to giggle, but i didn't. because i had to remember that my roll was to be serious, ready for examination, adult-like about sexual activity. i respected him, this man of the house, the father of four, husband extraordinaire, asking me about my cycle. whatta guy. the kind of guy who recognizes that having a period is natural, in the objective sense most men will argue that farting in public is natural. out in public, even with the best of friends, the discussion of regular and timely bleeding is awkward. but it's not awkward at all in a 4x4 box with a man whose job is to inspect your 2,000 parts. and even though "... that is your uterus" is not really a sentence one wants to hear/feel, a girl's gotta take care of herself. i'm willing to donate my body once a year to medicinal groping. to dodge the perils of cancer and admit ignorance to save myself unsafe moments. so now, i'm checked-up, calmed down, and in control. of birth. of my sexuality. which makes me giggle. not out of childish embarassment. but rather, out of excitement and the feeling of freedom.
15 June 2006
  Happy Father's Day Confession
Because it's always about money with Dads. And maybe there are slivers of time when it's about pride and honor. But other than that, it's money. So here it goes, verbatim, my Father's Day confession ...

[1. I owe Discover Card $2500.
2. I owe Victoria’s Secret and the Gap (combined) around $300.
3. My class I have to take to get my diploma costs $700.
4. I owe Marquette $185.
5. I owe Direct Loans over $300.
6. I have $150 to my name.
7. My cell phone bill is $60 a month.
8. I pay at least $82 a month on my Discover.
9. I am slowly redeeming myself from the hole I created with my VS and Gap Cards.
10. I want to save money.
11. I try to save money.
12. I haven’t gotten promoted yet because of setbacks at work.
13. I pay for gas and the necessary bills that come around the beginning and middle of each month.
14. Then I don’t end up saving much because I have to have some kind of a social life.
15. I haven’t bought a new article of clothing since February.
16. I am sick of asking for your help, so I want you to know that I am going to stop. Now you know where I am financially, so you understand the situation and how you can help when you are able to do so. But other than what you foresee, I will not make suggestions or requests.
17. You are not allowed to take out loans for the sake of helping me.
18. I will take out a loan for my class so long as you co-sign it. I promise to pay it off when the time comes; I don’t ever want you to have to take away from the money you rightfully earn to give to me – your 22 year old college graduate of a daughter who should be able to support herself.
19. I hate money so much that sometimes, knowing that I have to start my life as an adult poor and uncomfortable makes me want to drive my car off of the highway into a ditch. (I kind of actually mean that.)
20. I promise I’m trying. I really am. I’m still not conditioned to be successful with money. I am so afraid that I won’t be able to take care of myself. I’m sad that you have to know that I’m not afloat and that I can’t do it alone. I want you to be proud of me for being responsible and planning ahead. I cry a lot wishing I could take every meal, every piece of clothing, every impulse buy back.
21. I appreciate every single thing you do. E V E R Y. I don’t resent you for not having thousands of dollars saved for my college. I don’t resent you for taking naps and not wanting to talk to me. I don’t even resent you for not caring about what I am going through. I only appreciate how hard you work and how hard you try to be my Dad.
22. I know I’m just another thing on the list of stuff to take care of. I accept that. I deserve to be treated and known as something to be taken care of. It is a burden, it is work, it is inconvenient that I am here. I’m going to try harder every day to make my stay at home worth your money. I am going to contribute more.
23. I might be depressed. Perhaps it’s the transition of college to work life. Perhaps I just feel like a complete failure. You have to know that I did not leave college proud or happy. I could have done a lot better. I could have worked harder. I could have earned more awards and honors. I did well but I didn’t do great. And I resent myself. I have regret. I consider myself a failure, and I am very sad about how little I have to offer employers. That’s how I feel. That’s something I go through. You should know because I’ll never tell you to your face that I might not be who all of you thought I was cracked up to be. I don’t think I can do great things. I feel small and incapable of much more than windexing windows and making my bed. I hate waking up.
24. Life is really hard right now, and I am overwhelmed by everything. I can’t keep up with the mistakes of my past, I am consistently making them in the present, and I am so afraid of my future that I would give anything to avoid going there. Please take it easy on me, Dad. Please talk softer and hug me more because my insides hurt from all the punishing I do to myself as it is. I’m not okay. I’m not even close. I just really need you right now. I don’t need you to remind me that I don’t know what I’m doing or that I’m not doing anything right. I’ve told myself those things repeatedly and I hate myself. I really do. I just need to get better at this. I need to feel like you’re still there. I need some support. So love me, and be patient. I am doing my best to make you proud. And to give you peace at last.

25. I love you very much. And despite knowing that when I fail financially and otherwise that you must find a surplus in either your bank or your time to meet my need, I had to tell the truth. That's your Father's Day gift. Now I don't have a single secret. And you can tell me what to do for free, without my attitude, without my premature wisdom. Tell me what to do. And I will.]
25 May 2006
  My First Music Review (Kind Of)
I like to take credit for innovative music. I take pride in having been a part of art before it became cool to like it on the mainstream. I am loyal to good musicians – I connect with them. There is a kind of beauty to taking a leap in front of thousands, playing your heart and singing your soul with a small-time record deal. Even the unoriginal talking heads over at MTV tip their hats to the ones that started out of a garage, who mixed their own tracks, that took an amateur approach to sharing their bigger than life musical concept. The ones that start out with an idea, a new wave of sound – they get me.

Imogen Heap got me. I am not necessarily prepared to boast about liking her before the big break (because I’m not ready to share her yet), but she’s got me. An import from the UK, Imogen Heap is a tall, dark-haired, pale-skinned flower dressed in layers of pink and teal. Her skirts flow like petals, strands of her hair fall like they’ve been moved while she drove with the windows down. She’s not together in the Hollywood sense, but she’s glamorous and delicious in her own sense. Her former life as a member of the outfit Frou Frou (you may recall the song “Let Go” from the Garden State soundtrack) has brought her enough musical freedom to design her own musical template. Which she has done quite articulately. Her voice is dark and robust, full of sultry lows and painful highs. Each hum, scream, murmur, lyric – is a display of her genuine vocal talent. Her melodies and instrumental foundations fuse electronica with piano, guitar, and even the simple percussion of a clap.

PBecca introduced me to Imogen back in September, over a cup of coffee. She handed me an ear bud from her Creative music machine and scrolled to a song called “Hide and Seek.” She got the mischievous look on her face like she’d discovered a treasure that could only be given away one small coin at a time and that she’d picked me to hold on to a piece of it. Like she was entrusting me with a morsel of her greatest fortune. I listened with much care; I was in tears before the bridge. Despite the synthetics of the track, its sound, it’s lyrics, each peak and resulting low felt organic and pure. I was hooked immediately by a kind of drug, a genre laced in dreams and memories of love and heartbreak. I felt lucky to be a part of her vision. I fell deeper under her spell one song at a time, listening on repeat and walking at night alone with her as my guide.

I was on a plane in October moving in the opposite direction of some unfinished business that left me sad and lonely, and Imogen kept me company on the flight. I listened to “Hide and Seek” all the way to Milwaukee, wishing I had done something different, wishing I knew what the hell was going on, certain that another voice couldn’t validate my tears like hers. It was then that I started calling her one of my favorite artists, that I felt truly connected with her. Very few musicians have grabbed a hold of me like her. Her ability to play my heart and ease my mind has only been rivaled by Fiona Apple, who is certainly my favorite musician – my only true female love. Imogen’s dynamic style quenches me at the right times. Sometimes her voice tip-toes and whispers sadness, sometimes it wails in vengeance, in victory. I relate to her; she’s weak yet strong, she smiles in the face of her anticipated predicaments, finding humor in the irony of her life – no matter how ill her mind falls as a result. I think I’ve read her well enough to know her. This is how I mark true art. Only truth and authentic emotional display could be as transparent.

So while we sat on the cold floor of The Rave last night waiting for her to approach the stage, I felt a kind of Christmas-like excitement. Waiting for her to open up her set, I saw those in my company as disciples, fellow worshippers waiting for their dose of her prophecy. She came to the stage pirouetting, holding a large flower, looking as whispy and fairy-like as ever. The crowd, as intimate and small as it was, sat in chairs at tables and stood respectfully – gave her an arena welcome. One concert-goer screamed to her Highness “I want to make crop circles in your carpet!” and she giggled a low giggle into her microphone, smiling as if she was flattered. She stood a giant above us, barefooted and draped in light fabric. Imogen introduced us to her band – a couple keyboards, a box of strings for plucking, a computer, a voice parrot, and a mixer. She spoke softly and quickly to get the part she hated over with. She came to sing, to play her music. It was obvious in her body language that she is naturally timid, naturally a musical performer, not an orator or storyteller.

She got straight to the music, and from the second she started, I lost track of time. I knew most of the songs and fell immediately under the trance of those just introduced to me. Her pitch was dead on and she played her instruments gracefully, moving from one to the other, putting entire tracks together by herself. Even here, while she synthesized vocals and echoed piano parts, each melody was a product of her pure voice, her unmistakable knack for originality. Her highest notes were higher and her lowest notes made me hold my breath. She hit every word with force or care, enforcing more emotion than I’ve seen on a stage. Her movements were eccentric and an obvious extension of her lyrical madness. And the crowd sat silently, moving its lips to the words but murmuring the words softly, so as to sing with her but not overpower her presence. The lights flickered and jumped when she’d burst her easy stream of lyrics into a burst of rage and loud instrumental demonstration. A light above her head beamed yellow and the stage darkened as she’d decrescendo into loneliness. She was the master of her own stage and obvious producer of each ion of her performance. I could feel the fellowship of amazement throughout the room – as if she brought her sport and we were spectators viewing a feat of music. I was hypnotized, with tears dripping from my jawline onto my pant leg. Sometimes PBecca would grab my hand and rub the top of it with her thumb during our parts.

Particularly during “Hide and Seek.” Imogen’s lights went blue and cold, she left her station of instruments and carried a harnessed keyboard mid-stage, under a dim light. She called it her “last song” then giggled at the cliché of musical artists leaving the stage then returning only by the command of foot vibrations and uproar in unison. An easily tickled woman she is, almost mocking her tentative fame. She loves the stage, her fans and obviously worships her craft. But she doesn’t take herself seriously - she stands bare, almost cowering with fear from the reality of her words, her open book of memories and revealing thoughts. She’s not a star, she’s a woman with a story, and it’s an enchanting one. During “Hide and Seek,” she was remarkably on key with the acapella-esque track. She was without the barrier of her many synthesized instruments and the busy work of playing her piano. But she felt natural still – the song couldn’t have been more beautiful. Not a sound came from the crowd, not a movement was rustled. When she hit the bridge, my favorite part of the song, she handled its tempo poignantly. She even breathed between each line with a kind of precision. She nailed it, she delivered it live the way an artist should – personally. Even though she was on point, I felt her real momentary connection to the crowd, to the words emerge throughout. She recreated it for us.

In a phrase – she nailed it. I didn’t doubt that she would, I only lamented the possibility that her music could become even more a part of me once I’d felt her touch me with it in person. Her smirk was humble and her banter was common. In-between the formalities of sharing discourse with the audience, she blew me away. Each track tasted differently, sounded more vivid. It was a true experience, and I couldn’t leave her concert without a review and true promotion of the reality of an artisan of music.

Some of my favorite Imogen tracks: “Speeding Cars”, “Getting Scared”, “Hide and Seek”, “The Walk”, “Missing You”.

Check her out. If you haven’t already.
01 May 2006
  Four Years Later
His hair feels longer than it used to be. Even when it used to be longer than it is now, it was short-lived and trendy. Now his hair falls over his eyes in a way that shows he doesn’t want to pay for a haircut, that there is less function in cutting hair that simply sits on a head. He is less vain. Even though his argyle sweater matches his brown, urban-like shoes and dark wash jeans. His hands are still boxy and his jaw still sharp. He talks about himself less in an air of confidence and more in an air of professional perspective – his art is what he does, not what he is. He considers himself a work in progress. He used to think he was atop an Earth, with the sun shining bright on his every talent. Perhaps a few good years of critique have done this to him. But he still looks the same – at me. He doesn’t even wish to critique or minimize me. He sees through me, past me. I’m barely here. Maybe this is why I never believed what he said, standing at my door at 2am. He was past his curfew and risked harsh consequence trying to talk me into some understanding about his affection for me. The affection he never verbalized. He just looked through me. Not into me. Back then he pioneered the man bag and he wore tee-shirts under zip-up sweaters with flip-flops. Mid-winter. I loved his hands then and how they looked like they were meant to cut wood and shape clay. He was an artist before he knew it, when he’d sketch Howard Roark and play with the idea of illustration. He always found the words before anyone else could – on paper he was a genius and in conversation a champion. I remember hating him sometimes; he was so completely prepared to know answers. He asked the questions that most people wish they could follow-up. My greatest fear was that he’d realize how brilliant I wasn’t. Realizing that he never thought I was brilliant to start. He just had me there to sing new songs to in his little car and my smiling face to anticipate at the end of his clever anecdotes. I was an accessory to his self-obsession, nodding and coddling. But I never hated it the way his closest did. I never wished he’d stop talking about himself, about the sun inside of him, about his point of view. It all fascinated me, the way it still does. His best friend once asked if I ever just wanted to tell him to shut up. I told her no. It surprised her, astonished me. Maybe I was too easy for him to admire and compliment. I was won and sold. I then knew my luck in having his attention was miles short of my hope to win his affection. He begged at my doorstep. For me to see, to understand, to believe. In affection. It was simply his addiction to my complimentary nature. My humble hands resting in my lap sitting in the passenger seat while he banged the percussion and watched me watching him. He still sees me seeing him. He weighs less than he should and plays with his hair instrumentally. I can’t stop looking at him being this him. The one I know but don’t know at all. Because I never knew him – the dancing, the singing, the group fun. He was never a single soul. Yet here he sits, driven by his craft, practically suffocating himself to get it right. He used to be lazy. Maybe he still is, but his nature doesn’t allow me to see. Because he cares more about his work and less about his image. And all I can see is what he’s doing. The way I never used to see. All I heard were the words and all I got was the act. But now he’s creating something he cares about and while he knows I’m watching, wondering; he doesn’t care. He doesn’t mean to impress. He means to be. Something more than what he woke up this morning as. And I can’t stop wishing he was this when I was 17. When he was 18. I remember how he danced, like a background Jet in West Side Story, waving his hands cheerfully and kicking his feet in a defiant way. He never seemed to feel pressure, he seemed so free. The way he does now, but back then he had parents to report to. A curfew. Several obligations as a son and Christian. Now he’s his own Christian with his own ventures. He’s accomplished and employed. He’s pursuing something he loves – he buys used children’s books. He’s fermented in all these ways I imagined he would. I’m wishing I hadn’t allowed this mug of coffee and cup of tea. Because I know he’s never looked back or analyzed why I closed the door and let him become someone to see every six months. He’s never told people stories about me, about what I meant. I meant more than he told. He told too late. I’d already given up and couldn’t carry his baggage at the time. The baggage of being quiet and unintroduced by his side. I wanted to be important. I wanted to be right for him, the him that he proclaimed to be: on top of the world, untouched by tragedy. But I wasn’t anything of the sort. I admitted my size, my insignificance, my painful upbringing. I would watch him lay with his black cat and know that inside there was a loving, affectionate creature. Someone deeper. He pet the feline with a kind of reciprocation; he loved having it there to keep him warm. Baggy purred. Maybe when he was a kid, his cat companion would run away or meow in contest. It’d give him the signs that he was going about it the wrong way, that he needed to approach their encounters differently. Eventually, he became skilled in the art of handling his dingy old cat. He learned. I should have given him another chance. To learn how to handle me. To learn to know how not to tell me nothing bad had ever happened to him. Eventually, he would have gone about me the right way. But that’s not a useful thought, sitting here across from him four years later.
30 April 2006
  Fall 2006: Chicago with Caitlin
We agree about everything. We’re complimentary, even in our most contrasted moments. We’re going to be roommates in Chicago this September.

So many things make us work. Hardwood floors. Walking distances. A craving for the reggae night scene. She wants an acoustic guitar for graduation, and I was thinking of requesting a set of bongos. You know, to bang on once in a while. For the days when I’d typically consider banging on a stranger’s head. We can wail on our instruments after rough days at work. We both wear skirts the way most people wear boxers. We like incense and prefer open windows to air conditioning. We don’t care about dishwashers or cable TV. Heating in the winter, as I found out, is something we both consider repairable through blankets, not high energy bills. We believe in simple living and don’t like tacky art work. She wants to cook in and avoid eating out. I am setting a new life budget which drastically cuts out my fine dining. I’m loud and aggressive. She’s meek and accommodating. We’re both feminists. We’re both observers. We share belief systems. We are devout readers. We’ll have yellow lighting and soft pillows. Our dish towels will be old; decorated with brown and orange flowers of the 1973 variation. We will have mismatched plates and afford ourselves the luxury of fresh flowers on the kitchen table now and again. I’ll learn how to eat like a vegetarian; she’ll get the secrets to the Pellicori sauces and raviolis. She runs therapeutically. I do dance workouts. We want to exchange outlets. We want to take art classes at a community center. We’re not worried about furniture. We relish the thought of queen sized beds. We have the same taste in people.

I knew it’d come down to this. I loved Caitlin upon first meeting her. She smiles for all of humanity and yearns to accomplish enough to remedy all the hurt she sees. Her ability to be cooperative and directive simultaneously give any scene a sense of harmony. She’s a natural guide. When we were resident assistants together, we’d sneak away from the hustle and have coffee. I always talk more; she prefers to listen. One of the few left. When she has a point, it’s clear – it’s what she feels. Caitlin doesn’t calculate answers. She knows what she thinks. When she’s unsure, she humbly admits her ignorance and accepts perspectives. Her idea of makeup is mascara and lip gloss. And without any kind of mask or low-cut top, she is easily the prettiest girl in most rooms. Her frame is small; she wears it under fleece and comfortably worn denim. Most of her earrings are earthy and dangle. She wears practical shoes. She carries the weight of old relationships because her compassion worries about the people she once loved – still loves. Unlike the many in my path of admiration, I don’t loathe anything about her. I don’t pine after ways to be her. Because she’s so pure of imitation herself that it’d be impossible to try. I’m not jealous. I’m only grateful. And now she’s going to be my roommate.

I can look down the road to September, and I see a two bedroom apartment only a few blocks from an L stop. Maybe in Wicker Park. I hear garbage trucks picking up our garbage as we drink our fair trade coffee in dingy old mugs and get ready for work. I smell basils and pesto. I dream of the possibility of an arm chair and hanging plants to keep things green during the winter freeze. I imagine guests wearing glasses and toting messenger bags. It all fits.

My notion of the future has been transformed drastically in the past few days. Before Caitlin and I confirmed that we’d be living together, I was afraid. Scared shitless. I was easily brought to tears by discussions of jobs, new friendships, having to pay for a gym membership. I couldn’t see past June 1st. I couldn’t make decisions. I was finally adjusting to the idea of trying Washington D.C. again. I was starting to consider moving in with him. It was becoming easier to replace my ambitions of a selfish future with my raw emotion to be with someone I love. I thought that opening up to being in love in Washington D.C. with him was a better way to prioritize. That hey, if other things like a job and a place to live aren't working out, why not? I told myself it was better for me – to get the love thing down first. I almost made some big decisions. In his direction. Not in my own. Which is the only direction I’ve ever gone. I suppose it’s a part of being goal oriented. A dreamer. I’ve always believed in what Ayn Rand said about love – it’s necessary to find a me before a we. And I'm just on the brink of getting something going on this me thing.

Which is why it’s a wonder that just as plan E was about to unfold, plan A called me up looking to fill a roommate position. It’s odd to admit that I would have avoided Chicago without a roommate, but I lack financial stability and the patience to adapt to strangers in my living space. I think I’d get a padlock for my bedroom door if forced to utilize a roommate service. Who wants to live like that? Besides, I may be independent, but I hate being alone. More than I hate being wrong. I can’t be wrong if I do what’s in my heart… and I know what’s in my heart. It’s Chicago – in a two bedroom apartment with an easygoing, independent, non-committed roommate. With Caitlin. So we can do whatever we want together, but also separate enough to re-meet ourselves in a new city. To grow up. Officially. At our own paces, not at the hands of our boyfriends. Not on someone else’s terms. We’ll be free. We’ll be selfish in a way we aren't allowed to be now.

The last time I knew where I was going to end up was in the spring of 2002. I chose Marquette and felt peace. I know where I am going again. Which makes being here in Milwaukee, with the ones I love the most, invaluable. Now my greatest concern is how I’ll spend my summer. How much fun I'll have. I’m going to Chicago in September, and I have a summer to plan. That’s all I need to know or decide at this point. And occasionally, Caitlin and I will make other decisions, such as what kinds of window coverings to decorate with. And we’ll agree.

Such a novel concept, really.
16 April 2006
  God's House
I miss God.
Not god, but God.
Is it possible to yearn for an emotion?
Reverence, for example.
Men in white dress.
Candles lit in their hands.
Singing softly, majestic hymns.
Traveling across a park to me.
Perhaps I cried for a man's death.
My agnostic ways allow this.
Crying for him, maybe even Him.
Because I can't say he is unreal.
But I can't stand there with them.
Reading their paper stories.
Maybe I cried in fear.
That I stand across the street from Heaven.
And it will patiently wait for me.
Show its processions of signs and songs.
Give me my temporary faith.
So I can have my little fight with God.
I battle for independence of intellect.
He waves his beautiful offering
Whenever I stand alone, without defense.
Tonight, it was a bus stop and sore feet.
My heart felt small and thoughts permeated.
I didn't ask for any flashing evidence
Or stare into the sky wondering about it all.
The world felt normal, the night typical.
And in a second's time, my eyes soaked.
The score of believers behind men in gowns.
Warm on a cold windy night among the holy.
He offered it to me, too.
From afar, he reached into my indifference
And he tore it out by a small miracle.
That a doubter should believe in moments
And survive without Him, without his light.
Then stand alone and revel in faith.
A faith so real, so alive, that doubt never existed.
And even if it should again
It would be doubt in the flesh and pen.
Not in the house He built and gave emotion to.
The house I live in even when I look away
And call myself a non-believer of spiritual sorts.
He's there too.
Perhaps I am not so alone,
Not so malfaithed.
Are we all in disbelief, thriving on tearful moments?
Moments holding us together like glue
And calling that glue our faith, our salvation.
I am a believer.
But I have no faith.
Because He doesn't live in his house.
He only visits ocassionally.
I'll wait until he comes again.
09 April 2006
  Jealous Types Anonymous
Hi. My name is Sara, and I am the jealous type. It took years of awkward anger, temporary recluse, and over exaggerated encouragement to finally get me to this point. But I’m here. And now I know. I am jealous, and I have a problem.

Phew. Feels good to finally get that out. I’ve been battling with this disease for years. Alone. In my bed while everyone is out. On a barstool drinking a beer I hate but know will earn more points than her Amaretto Sour. Sitting at the bottom of the tub letting the water pummel the back of my head while I cry.

I’m a wreck when I don’t get what I want. I’m confused, scarred, and self-destructive. I stare in mirrors coaching myself through life – smiling big to contemplate the role my teeth play in whatever fate should come to me. I look deep into my sad, brown eyes to see if something will happen. If my anger and frustration will come out of my soul and stare back at me with the answers to my failures. It’s scary standing there. Mere inches from yourself – in bright light, with dark circles under your eyes, with a strange kind of infinity haunting you. Every time I do it I go until I’m holding in welled up tears and have fully exposed how I really feel to myself. Then I slither back towards my cave and write something clever about how beautiful she is. Whoever she is this week. But this is not reality. It’s just another personality entertaining the idea of admiration and respect rather than self-deprecation.

I loathe that which walks taller, bares thinner and sleeps better. I give up when I realize I’ve been replaced. I put my camisoles back on their hangers and reach for a sweater. I punish myself for not being enough. I put jealousy in the drawer and find an excuse – like a nap. Or a headache. Sometimes I even report hours of homework and accomplish something in the process of unveiling my jealousy over tea and a paper that’s due months ahead. I stare at my desktop for hours until my posture is hunched and my eyes beg me to close them. Then I am truly exhausted. And I dream about nothing. I’ve learned to prefer this. Dreams are too real, and reality is too much work. I’d much rather float on a cloud and drink teal and carnation pink margaritas than chase people around hoping they’ll see me. Help me. Love me. Give me back what’s mine.

I hide it well. My jealousy. I hide it the way an anorexic hides inside an old sweatshirt and learns to pull long sleeves over her gaping wrist bones. I am so good at lying about how I feel. It’s a craft. The second I think I might be discovered, I swallow it and pull a classic excuse, emotion, rationale out of the archives. But I’ve run out of excuses and reasons. I’m resorting to old tactics that worked back in high school. Unconvincing tactics that resound the hundredth “No thanks, I’m just not hungry.” My reserves are empty. I might have to come clean. I’d rather turn myself in and get a lesser sentence.

Even though being jealous publicly feels twice as bad as it does in private. Public jealousy is dramatic, overbearing, and irrational. It causes irresolvable conflict. I’d stomp home far too often in post-defeat. I’d much rather come home early because of a headache. Then they’d think I didn’t feel well and console me the next morning rather than whisper about my problem. Because people can’t relate to jealousy, even though they all feel it. People refuse to understand that another is not objectively happy for their success and achievement. It’s not that I’m so unhappy for another. I’m just unhappy that it is not me. I suppose it would be fair to say that I don’t loathe the receiver of good things. I despise my lack of right place right time-ness. I hate to work for it.

Those who fall under my envious scope are always the closest to me. They obtain what I will never have and show me what it means to be the kind of person I will never be. They work harder, do laundry more often, and have parents celebrating silver anniversaries. They are trained in dance, enjoy running for hours and draw straighter lines. They impress me in their ease of being themselves. The way I am sure people appreciate how I do so well being me. It’s great to be surrounded by whole persons. People with talents, skills, and convictions about the world. People who are better looking and better tempered. People that walk with me and compliment my me-ness as I clench my jaw envying their them-ness. I am the ultimate in wanting what cannot be had. Jealousy is a coping strategy for wanting the most unhavable item out there: another’s identity. Hence, I’m a good expert at it. So expert in fact, that no one would even notice I’m experiencing it.

Until now. I’m slowly learning to be jealous freely. To seethe without the door shut so others can see that they affect me. Perhaps all this jealousy is a product of realizing that I am not the moon, sun, stars and universe. A surplus of air was blown up my ass as a kid – a Mommy whose heart wrapped itself around my every fear and insecurity, teachers with too few students to commend, easily entertained twentysomethings laughing in unison while I pretended to be a grown-up at the table. I learned early to talk the talk. Eventually, I started running into people who walked the walk I was talking so eloquently. Other kids started to raise their hands more, get compliments for their manners more and win awards more. By high school, I wasn’t number one anymore.

And that was the beginning. I started harboring abusive friendships that forced me to see what I wasn’t. Girls with gleaming white teeth, perfectly aligned. Mathmeticians. State qualifying artists. Grand pianists. Uber-Christians. I was best friends with the presidents of clubs and the captains of teams. I watched them date the boys I wanted to date and drive the cars I wanted to drive. I kept pulling the band-aid up more slowly so I could feel the pain of being myself. I let it consume me. I’d cry after dances and parties, wishing I was someone else. I’d stay home from school to avoid seeing them. I was overzealous in my friendships to avoid being caught stirring up my little stew of envy.

With time, I settled into myself with chagrin. Of course I never told them how vexed I was by their dainty little noses and volleyball player thighs. Rather, I grew to be a complimentary addition to any scene. I learned to be honest about beauty in public. I learned that being her would never happen, so I might as well let everyone else, including her, know how great she is. Because I see how normal it is to size up. I don’t want other people to feel the way I feel, so I want them to know how beautiful, tall, talented, athletic, brave, intelligent, fashionable they are. Especially if they’re recognizable traits are those I seek to collect. Especially because it feels good to do a little bit of penance. To pay for the jaw-clenching, tooth-grinding frustration I endure.

And now, here I am. Fresh out of compliments. Clean out of excuses. Fed up with myself. I want to look every person in the face and tell them that even though I love the way they are, I really wish I could push them down whenever they make me look mediocre in comparison. I want that freedom, and I hate the way I’m imprisoned by this desperate need. This need to be someone else, to be more. Is it possible that all this jealousy, all this intentional exposure to the elite of every realm I’ve entered, is because I refuse to settle for anything less? Is it possible that all this sense of failure and underdevelopment is a payment of homage to those who I dedicate hours of admiration to?

I want to figure this out. Desperately. So I can pull the sweatshirt up off my wrists and be me. Because there's so much more here that isn't within someone else. I want to find the thing that's my blue ribbon, my high honor, my SI swimsuit edition cover. And I guess that's what's got me here. Confessing a problem that tricks me into thinking it's a solution. While keeping me from the papers that must be written so I can be the best student, from the treadmill that will make me more fit and from the friends who can hug me when I'm down.

I'm going to start a Jealous Types Anonymous. So we can all get it out and eventually get to ourselves. So I can start to just be myself. The self that I've never been. Because I've been too consumed in being someone else. I am excited about this little club. And I already have a prayer to get things rolling...

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."
28 March 2006
  making cuts
it's a matter of principle, really. friends are the kind of people you choose. you decide who advances to higher rank, who makes you happy, whose benefits outweigh their costs. in which case, why settle for less or waste time on people who aren't of the highest compatibility?especially for the best friends - the lifelong ones. for a single gal like myself, friends really count. they're the foundation, they're the fortress, they're the commitment. so i often wonder: how is it that i've let a surplus take up my time when all i've needed all along... was a select few?

and tonight i saw it. i was freuding my thoughts as i lounged back on a couch in a small, marker-scented room with jess. as i started to surface my emotional climate, she mentioned something about this unbearable summer class that's been the sore in the back of my mouth for a few months now. i rolled off some grumbles about the past i cannot change and the burden it's having on the summer of 2006. she started clicking away at the computer, which at first frustrated me - was she even listening? i mean, i know i can ramble endlessly, but did she care? then i looked over, and inbetween clicks of the mouse, i could see that she was writing the names of colleges i can take a summer class at this summer.

and that's when i knew. friends are more than just the people who make us smile. i know it means more because there is more to being present. there is more than a head nod and a shoulder. anybody could generically tell me it'll be okay and not to worry. anybody could laugh at me for the 200th time witnessing my plan b executions. but it's friends who enable me. friends disregard the ability to relate or undertand. friends are problem solvers and thinkers. they look to your need and find a way to meet it - because if for no other reason than to stop hearing the whining stories of failed classes and summer-long engagements with psyc stats - they know you.

looking over at jess tonight reminded me that i've wasted so much time surrounding myself with more people than i need because all this time i've been disillusioned. i've scrolled through my 200 person cell phone contact list and smiled. i've walked into a room and known more than three quarters of the faces. i've called the many whose names i know and mindless details i keep rolodexed friends. because i thought to myself wow, all these people like me. all these people make me happy. when in reality, it's not simply happiness that defines a true friendship - a lifelong relationship. happiness is not all of life. happiness happens. and having things in common, laughing together, sharing personal stories - those can make us happy. but all of that is just talk. just time spent.

true friendship, the kind i am now certain of, exceeds happiness. it makes us better. true friendship happens when a person's principles of life are met through a compatible, although not always similar person. my true friends can see who i really am, and despite the ramblings and jokes, they let me go on talking while they start picking places for me to go to summer school. they know where i want to go and why i want to be there. so they save the generic conversations and push while i pull myself down into the little ruts that make me me. god it's a genuine effort to be important to me. i recognize this now, and i wish i had realized it long ago - before i halfway admitted these unimportant people into my commitment scope. i've been chasing people whose personalities fulfill the novelties i seek in friendships like mysteriousness and cutting witt for the past three years when i could have been sitting on couches solving my own mysteries and establishing completely undecipherable inside jokes. with people who matter.

it may seem selfish to determine my true friends through their ability to help me grow rather than simply their ability to be there. utility fascinates me. because so many people can be here for me. so many would come over for me in an instant if i really needed someone to listen. my lifelongs show up with a solution so i can get on with my life and do more than just engage in a conversation about it. i get so sick of just talking all the time and my lifelongs do, too. they want to just hop in the car and listen to music for a couple of hours. they call me to be sure i'm going to class. they are servants of friendship because their principles are like my own: without me, without those like me, they have no rock or fortress.

soon i will be moving to chicago. when i get there, i'll be a professionally trained someone of sorts and look back on the bumpy little road that got me on the metro, ipod blasting as i speed off to work. and i'll think to myself: if jess hadn't looked up that online class, i'd still be living at home, feeding the cats and sleeping in a bunkbed. my friends, those closest to the neuroses that keep my motor running and farthest from the superficial niceties and banter, have gotten me here. there. wherever i go. so few people have really ever known me or been with me to see how deep my little rabbit hole goes. far fewer than those who think they've seen it. with chicago on deck and nearly a month and a half's time to capitalize on the nearness of my loves, it's time to make some real cuts. tonight prepared me. i'm ready to move on with only the thoughts of those who count.

for some time now, i've talked about writing a list of people who are worth staying in touch with after i leave this yeast bubble of a city. and before i go to bed, i will have it completed. which won't be hard to do. because it will be short.
15 March 2006
  S&M and Sock Drawers
I’m not sure I can watch Secretary with other people in the room. I remember feeling this way about movie scenes as a child. My Mom and I watched Dirty Dancing, and I pretended to be thirsty during Solomon Burke’s “Cry to Me.” Some things are just too personal for watching together. Even as a kid I wished I could be the smart, awkward girl in the bad boy’s cabin after hours. When Baby asks Patrick Swayze to dance within inches of his bed, I personalize it. I think I would do that. Fall in love with the unsuitable dance instructor then demand that he let me stay the night despite appearances.

But watching Secretary is on a completely different level. It’s not that I don’t want anyone to be in the room when sex scenes are on because of the general discomfort of viewing then looking at each other like “Haha. You’re thinking about sex right now.” It goes deeper. I know that other people would watch Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader experience arousal through harsh commands and red Sharpies and laugh. They’d say “God, how weird.” I’d blush and think “God, how romantic.”

People think S&M is kinky. I think it’s nature. Friends have said things like “You would be into that, Pellicori.” And I just smile, demure, unenthused by the jokes. I mean it; it’s not that off the wall. The pure politics of being possessed physically or possessing another physically entertain more romance and true love than is ever noted. S&M turns the lights on and speaks and demands and receives the way most people hate. Most people want the lights off, the intimacy to be unspoken and the moment to be separate from the world. Sex is supposed to be in a vacuum. It’s supposed to be this little thing couples do with the door shut and the blinds drawn.

Well maybe sex is everything and everywhere. I’ve often wondered how it is that more people aren’t turned on by the world. By being alive. I see that in the movie Secretary. I imagine that the ideal sex life doesn’t revolve around a woman wearing something lacey for her husband to get him into bed. I imagine that it revolves around the most human aspects of our lives – our behavior. I often am caught up in the little things, like the way a man holds a bottle of beer or jingles the change in his pocket. That turns me on. I need someone who’ll watch me do the dishes and want to scoop me up because he can’t resist his attraction to my routines. We are more real, more alive when we see the way others are truly illuminated.

Many cultures argue that one cannot live until he dies. That we aren’t attached to the reality of our lives until we experience and accept that we are not here for long, that we are not always going to be grounded in the reality of planet Earth. I feel the same way about pleasure. It may seem odd to incorporate strange pain and into the intimate, loving, close activity of sex; I argue that we cannot be truly pleased until we are submitted to absolute trust. The beauty of S&M is the undeniable trust and lack of shame that support it. Two people (or more than two, depending on your particular taste) can enjoy each other without the limitations of insecurity or secret fantasies hidden under pillows. Two people can admit their desire to be controlled, to control. Two people can experience kinds of pain. Pain that reminds them of their life, their attachment to the physical world. Pain is important to embrace and fuel. Pain makes pleasure the sweetest kind of dessert.

I’m most influenced by the idea of being possessed. Being a control freak, I suppose I admire the idea of a man telling me what to do. Because typically, I’d feed anyone trying to dish out commands a knuckle sandwich. I guess I want to love someone enough to want them to know I’m his. All the way, no questions asked. In Secretary, James Spader (aka Mr. Grey) takes a dominant role in Maggie’s life and at one point, she calls him to ask what she can eat for dinner. She gives him the menu, and then he tells her she can have a half spoonful of potatoes, four peas, and pauses. She has an anxious and livened look on her face. Then he says a line that really puts the icing on the cake: “… and eat as much ice cream as you want.” I like to think that real love is like this. Even though he has all the power in the world, he takes it to a point of his own personal satisfaction then wants to make sure she still has hers. When Maggie’s character, Lee, eats her dinner, she appears completely affected by her senses, by the simplicity of being possessed.

I guess I want that. And when I watch Secretary, I pine. I’m sure I even glow. Because I know what it’s like to be turned on by the world and to want someone to be turned on by it with me. I’m not sure I’m advanced enough to admit that the limitless S&M toys and chains and leathers toot my horn. Even in the organic, fleshy sense – two people (or more, as previously mentioned), knowing that there is a place to be fully affected and alive with another person at the helm is completely ideal. I don’t want sex to be the thing I do before bed every night, I want it to be the way I fold his clothes and apply mascara in the morning. I want it to exist, and I want to share it.

But I don’t want to share it with another person sitting one couch cushion away. I don’t want them to be in my vision or my scope as I grin and bear it. I can imagine this is why men stash their porn under mattresses and behind socks. Their wives and girl friends wouldn’t understand their desire to experience different angles in different locations with different kinds of people. It’s a matter of being accepted. I don’t fear my fantasy; I just don’t want to invite anyone into it that doesn’t belong there. If someone sat next to me throughout the Secretary experience, I’d have to excuse myself for a glass of water every five minutes. Either that or I’d have to cover my face to hide the excitement. Where’s the fun in that?

Someday, when I get into the right kind of relationship with promising momentum, I’ll sit him down in front of the TV, tell him to watch my movie, then leave him to think about what he’s getting himself into. And if he doesn’t like it, I guess I’ll have to be turned on by the world with somebody else. Because fantasy is reality, and I refuse to hide it in the back of a sock drawer.
05 March 2006
  Why do I blog?
1. I'm no photographer.
2. People like to sleep.
3. Egomania.
4. I have journal attention defecit disorder.
5. Practice makes perfect.
6. Passive aggression.
7. TV isn't my bag.
8. I see a lot of cool people on the bus.
9. Boys, men, mutants.
10. Mom doesn't answer her phone.
11. Running doesn't clear my mind.
12. A need for closure.
13. Words make me happy.
14. Summer nights, cold winter afternoons.
15. Good lighting.
16. Cowardice.
17. My Inspiron600m travels.
18. Processes of elimination.
19. The power of "<-- Backspace".
20. www.stephanieklein.blogs.com
21. The beauty of non-fiction.
22. Left-brainedness.
23. I think I can solve my own problems.
24. People quote me.
25. People are so damn quotable.
26. Glamorous self-perception.
27. Bouts of insomnia.
28. I relate to movie scripts.
29. Bold, underline, and italics.
30. I don't want to do the dishes.
31. The laundry's piling up.
32. Two tests and a paper are due.
33. I come home to myself.
34. An expressive upbringing.
35. I (don't) need therapy.
36. June 2006.
37. April 2005.
38. October 21, 2005.
39. February 15, 2006.
40. I remember everything.
41. Matt thinks I'm good at it.
42. Growin' up ain't easy.
43. Erin can sleep to the sound of typing.
44. Life is beautiful.
45. People die.
46. "Dear Diary," stopped working years ago.
47. Introversion happens to me sometimes.
48. Acoustic guitar lessons never work out.
49. Fiona Apple.
50. Readership.
27 February 2006
  A Public Service Announcement

Never smile at a crocodile
No you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his welcome grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin

It's the ones that smile first. Touch first. Laugh first. Open you up. Ask you to be yourself. They reach into your bread box, butter your toast then leave you with a load of crumbs to clean up after you've eaten up their charm. They write verses to ode your beauty, dance circles around your heart and offer the world. These scaly crocs seem docile. Easy. Uninterested in the bite. But once you're in their reach; they are predator, you are prey. You've been measured up and down and reduced to a mere lunch.

Never smile at a crocodile
Never tip your hat and stop to talk a while
Never run, walk away
Say good night, not good day

Even if you're a cynical, hard, unyielding relationship phobe, even if you don a hook and are prepared with ammo, you're no match for him. Don't trust your guard. Avoid relying on your supposed self-control. Your weapons are obsolete. It's code red once he holds you in his grip. You've lost the battle and surrender the war. He comes fully equipped with technique. Strategy. Aged logic. He's plotted your coordinates and senses your fear. His reinforcements come parading on white horses - princes with swords and words to back you into a stalemate. At every angle, each attempt out, your mate's been checked.

Clear the aisle
And never smile
At mister crocodile

Take heed. Step away from the smile. You'll know him when you see him. That wrench will turn when he stands there oh-so-cavalier. His shirt pressed, his pants creased, his arms open for the chomp. Don't give in, don't give a second glance. Be brave in your walk and confident in your rejection. You needn't show your fear. See him disappear in your peripheral as you march to safety.

You may very well be well bred
Lots of etiquette in your head
But there's always some special case
Time and place
To forget etiquette

He'll stammer his words into a persuasion of sorts as you bypass his trap. He'll offend your reasoning and call you a chicken. Remember, as you boast rudely and walk assured, you are a chicken. You are afraid. You are doing what's best for you. After all, a chicken doesn't stand a chance against a crocodile. He'll be hurt and blurt accusations of your pride. Your ego. Your inability to look him in the eye and take a risk. Manage yourself and let him disappear into your past, let him fade into the distance. Because you can walk away. You don't have to run. Crocs don't chase. They arouse your curiosity and fuse your fear into an obsessive dance with death. But you're only a speck on the map of chickens before you. That turned around and looked once more. That walked to his grin. That thought they could run away. That waved the white flag into a jaw-clenched affair.

So be sure. Be ready. Take the high road and save your self. Forget the formality of saying "no, thanks" and invest in the market of getting the hell out of there. Because you're weaker than you thought. And he's stronger than his grin will ever show. Stronger, more proud, a chief sadist. Stay away from the aforementioned species, and you will be fine. You'll be better. You'll survive.

I promise.

20 February 2006
lil sib reported that she'll be in d.c.
this summer.
at george wash u.
and that she wants me to visit .
so i can look at apartments.
places to start fresh.
jobs to jump start my career.
and all i could think of was him.
and what d.c. would be like.
with him.
but i guess maybe not.
more like absolutely not.
never is a scary promise.
and i made it recently.
but i have to cope and mend.
forget about hands in public.
breaking in new matresses.
learning to cook his way.
i forgot about this d.c.
the one that is lonely.
the one that won't love back.
maybe i don't want to go.
maybe i'm having an episode.
19 February 2006
  the placebo effect
typically when i get invitations to parties requiring set attire, i decline and claim to have something better to do. i hate being told what to wear. more than i hate being told that i have to pay $5 at the door for old milwaukee tapped from a keg. when the st. lunatics (sloth, satan, spacey) sent out the evite for their black and white birthday bash, i actually checked my calendar to see if i could make it. unlike the lameness of pimps and hoes parties, this theme piqued my interest. black or white in any other-color exclusivity look phenomenal on me. with the exception of black and white with red shoes. that's a killer. i recently bought a pair of hot white pants that need to strut around more often. i rsvp'd. then found out that pbecca (not to be mistaken with ptolemy) would be going and knew it'd be an extravaganza. pbecca loves to wear ties and i relish a good pair of crisp editor pants draped over some pointy and dangerous jet black stilettos. sexy partying is the only kind i do.

my pre-planned outfit was the only thing keeping me sane while i stood at work waiting to open the door for incoming dinners for two. the phrase "your server this evening will be anthony, and he'll be right with you. enjoy your dinner" feels official maybe the first five or six times you say it. after that, it feels autobot and untalented. in fact, i'd rather be a mediocre server using phrases like "y'all" and "you guys" than a smiling, lipstick-wearing, shmoozy door-opener with wicked talent for menu-placing and coat-hanging. being good at something that sucks means that i suck. i don't suck. needless to say, i'm looking for another job. one that will give me the opportunity to be much cooler and much more talented, like filing alphabetically or typing memos.

glee is the only expression that comes to mind when i recount the moment my boss came up to me and told me to go home. three hours early. i shook his hand, bid him farewell and danced my way to the exit, with fortune cookie in one hand and bus pass in the other. on the ride home, i called pbecca to let her know that drinking would begin promptly. she was on her way back from a hookah bar and insisted that i help her pick which outfit to wear to the party. at that point, i was certain it would be a great night - dress up and fashion shows are my fave. especially when girls who like jeans and sneaks with a nice cotton blend tee shirt submit to prim and gloss. i plotted eye shadows and sassy pre-party tunes all the way to my front door.

franzia and dessert commenced at eight. we sat on the kitchen floor leaning against the heat of the oven as it omitted the sweet aroma of yellow cake batter. we grinned and laughed realizing the potential of the evening. moments before snuggling with my favorite kitchen appliance, we'd put the cups for the cakes in the 12-holed pan and i predicted that there were either just enough or just over enough. there were exactly 12 little cups for the caking. i don't typically believe in fate. signs tend to make me laugh when others allude to them. but at that moment, i felt a serenity inside me because something i anticipated to turn out awkwardly made a turn for the best. and it entertained me. pbecca and i agreed that it meant our night would be victorious; not too hot not too cold. not too much, not too little. just right. it'd fit. then it made me decide to warm up next to the stove as the cupcakes baked fragrantly. we were content on the floor the way puppies are content basking in the rays of a sunny window on the floor. we were primed for a night of laughing and smiling. at anything.

then we got pretty. prettier. pbecca tightened her tie as i stood in the best full-length mirror ever testing two versus four inch heels. for a second I cut away to alicia silverstone and liv tyler in the aerosmith video for "crazy". alicia sported a tie and hat, liv wore white pants and some mid-drift scandal for an amateur striptease contest. come to think of it, pbecca and alicia are both vegetarians, and liv and i are both brunettes. incredible similarities, really. minus the part where i took off all my clothes except for the thin undergarments and spun around a pole for money. i like to think we're so cool. and as uninhibited. young is such a great thing to be when you're very good looking and free-loving. we're well on our way.

the party was in good shape when we arrived. pbecca and i were greeted by drunk hosts, oreos and flip cup. those in attendance wore black and white fashionably. all looked snazzy as we chugged from red and blue solo cups. i met new people, danced with new people, heckled new people from the edge of a beer pong table. the general vibe at the party was that of ease - beer on the carpet no longer phased the hosts and when "40 oz. to freedom" played for the second time within an hour, we sang once more. took in the lyrical stylings of brad once more. side conversations turned into conversations in circles, sharing personal stories with strangers like they were our kindred girl friends at sleepovers. white boy dancing followed the sublime chill when disc 3 turned over to disc 4, justin timberlake. some whore in big hoops and a tacky tex mex studded belt turned off jt mid-"rock your body" and the crowd erupted. confrontation was brief. the whore retreated back to her make-out niche in some corner of the kitchen and we proceeded to dance. and laugh. and pour bad beer into each other's cups at any sign of emptiness. we did jell-o shots. i recited an ode to everclear.

we gave up on sporting and drinking when the words "jimmy john's" were dropped. suddenly, the goal wasn't fixing the tapper on the keg. it was footlong sandwiches. we left the party - hosts included - to indulge. i ordered quite coherently and made sure to get a giant pickle on the side to share with pbecca. i talked to people in line behind me and made unnecessary remarks to the sandwich artists behind the counter. pbecca pointed to the kind of soda we wanted and giggled. i yelled "no ice!" at the machine and we sat at a wobbly table. a sticky, wobbly table. it'd been violated already by the drunks before us who'd overfilled their cups then set them down without forethought or finesse. we enjoyed our meals and invited people to eat with us that had beat us out of the beer pong tourney. i offered meat to a vegetarian. then i offered lettuce to a vegetarian. nothing went unenjoyed. no one went unrecognized.

we were basking in our drunken victory. we achieved the ideal drunk. we dressed as we wanted, drank as we wanted, talked to who we wanted, then ate what we wanted. and we did all of it drunk enough to giggle on command and sober enough to make it coherent. we had a great night. and i didn't stain my white pants. when we got home, we scarfed a few cupcakes with a couple of drunk dudes we lured back to my apartment, chad and a danny (even though i've been calling danny patrick for about six months now). they delighted the yellow cake snacks we gave them, and we leaned back in my love seat fully entertained by the biggest cupcake in the pan. a simultaneous giggle ensued when we unwrapped it.

it had two wrappers. there were indeed 13 wrappers in that pan, not 12. not perfect. not fit. not fate. but 13.

that thirteenth wrapper went unnoticed earlier in the night and we were none the wiser about the true potential for it to effect us. had we found it before the baking ceremony, we would have seen a different night before us. we would have wondered if it was a sign that it was going to be that kind of night - the kind that's off a little. the kind of night that happens because two people share the pessimism needed to pre-determine mediocrity and inevitable boredom. we didn't anticipate those things. we didn't expect loss or stains or mention the possibility of drunken chaos. we took the alleged 12 and felt optimistic instead. even though 13 were there. we were fed the 12 mentality. we turned a deaf ear to bad attitudes, tasted corona instead of old milwaukee and went home with a good buzz because of it. so, when we discovered the thirteenth wrapper, we looked at each other fearfully. i told her to crumple it up like she'd never seen it before and forget it existed. so she did. and we moved on to the passing out round of the evening with images of little cupcakes dancing in our heads.

i have always believed in the placebo effect. the power of the mind and self-healing attitudes. and last night further affirms my belief. i am so glad i could enjoy last night the way i did - looking back now, it wasn't a star-studded and monumental ocassion. 13 wrappers could have made it an intolerable and dead end night. 12 made it just right. and we were just right because of it. and fate's got nothing to do with it. fate is nothing.

and apparently, attitude is everything.
15 February 2006
  cold turkey
i quit kent tonight.
those of you who know me will know what that means.
to those i've promised.
then reassured once more.
that i'd be me.
that we wouldn't talk about him.
that he wouldn't change everything.
i'm shaking.
i'm unnerved.
i am scared to be me without him.
my heroine.
my addiction.
i will need support.
affirmation in the late hours.
so i don't fall off the horse.
i need something new.
be here for me.
cut me a few slices of that turkey.
and make it cold.
14 February 2006
  A Farewell to Arms?
He puts his arm around me like I’m his.

It doesn’t feel good being wrapped up. It feels like half the air and twice the work. Entertaining this strange ritual. Big arm, little woman. I’m not good at being inside another’s constructed comfort. Why do I hate this so much? I didn’t have to beg or fight to feel wanted and possessed. I’m the Queen of What Every Girl Wants and want the crown on another head. How can he be here already? Caressing my head when he notices that I’m feeling drowsy. Patting my thigh to emphasize jokes or me-directed points. Poignant nudges and that damn arm. The arm that holds and reassures. The arm that says “cool, let’s do this.” Around the girl that says nothing. And looks out the window counting the seconds until she can get up without seeming like she’s making a run for it. Yet I sit and oblige. Entertain and allow.

Maybe the fear of being heartless does this. The fear that it isn’t just this arm. But any arm. Any man. Any sign of unconditional affection. So I nestle in closer and signal affirmatively. Is it a lie? Or do we all warm up like this? I don’t understand non-verbal communication. I can’t say what I want. I just want to talk it through.

“Listen. This arm thing is kind of throwing me for a loop. Do you actually want to hold me close or are you transitioning to something more believable, like a spunky petting session?”

I’m cynical and painful in the moments when a man wants to calm things down to a soft roar. “No, seriously,” he’ll assert and frown at my macho reaction to sincerity. He’s the one that shows up when I pull a typical chick move and yearn for an unreceptive guitar player or cool guy impossibility. He doesn’t realize that the arm, the smile, the nudge of approval equate my version of two steps back. His guard is down too soon. He’s too compliant, too excited to let this work. He’s ready. Which means I have to decide if I am ready. I have to do something. I have to react. Affirm or deny. I’m making things complicated. Because I’m me.

The girl who wants everything at the price of nothing.

Arms included. But arms don’t offer themselves for nothing. Casual sex, kisses, symbolic dancing under neon lights – those do. But this isn’t casual. This is a heavy price and a long arm that wants to be there tomorrow, too. I want it to go away. I don’t want to be “Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow” Girl. I want to be Sara. Not Sara plus man with generous arm. Sara plus one could turn into Sara plus one karat. That’s a life of arm. A life of giving in to public rituals and compromise.

“Relationships are built on compromise, you know.”

He insisted that I let him pay for the wine he didn’t drink, and I refused. I didn’t budge. I might never. But then I’ll have to weigh the possibility of being alone. Alone in the pathetic, publicly rubbing away welled-up tears sense. Alone and sitting in coffee shops pining over new couples sharing a fruit cup with a curly-haired Emma baby. Alone and bitterly flaunting my anti-love movement of the week. Alone in the most preventable manner imaginable. The woman who chooses to be alone. It’s an unnecessary practice. I can’t be her. The bitter single twenty (or thirty) something that pokes fun at public displays of affection and digresses into a compliment-fielding drunk at weddings.

I talked to my Mom today and asked her what prevented her from arranging a marriage for me at birth – considering my inability to pull this dating thing together. She laughed and told me I’d fight tooth and nail to emancipate myself from the concept of having the right I do not practice taken from me. That’s why. Naturally I knew that’d be my way. Give me choices; I use them to an advantage so extreme that my only concern is maximizing me. Give me no choices; I stomp and scream without rest until you wish there was no you and demands are met. I’m impossible. Even the woman who should be advocating for my life of love and relationships has a grim outlook on things.

“I think I ruined you relationship-wise. I’m not sure. Maybe marriage just isn’t for you.”

I date back to childhood discussions and teenage sleepovers and realize that I’ve avoided saying “... when I get married” and have always preferred “…if I get married.” As a result, I fear all things that entertain whens. The when becomes so much more eminent with the initiation of new relationships. Because eventually, if things go well, emotions run wild and me-motivation becomes we-motivation. Each new man is a new chance to engage in the process of stepping one foot closer to being committed to someone. Forever. All I have to do is say yes once to a date, an extended hand, a curiosity that is half-terrifying, and it could happen to me. Things could go well. Things could be great.

I could fall in love.

I could fall.

Or I could count the seconds until being held is over. And let go before he does. So that way he can go home and I can imagine how long he would have held on if I hadn’t gotten up. Rather than waiting to be let go of. To be left. To be without a choice because one was already made. Even if that choice was simply about the removal of an arm around me. I pick when the letting go happens. Just like I pick when holding on happens. Why should I let arms come and go? I come and go. Arms are just there. Men are just there. Relationships are what I say they are, and so far as reality is concerned, my vision is far-fetched. I’m a love-patrolling lunatic.

Yet, I let the guard down and pick less these days. I’ve been letting things slide, like winks and looking chummy in public. To test. To learn. To allow some affection outside of fantasy land. Things are good there. Men aren’t defined by their looks or their personalities there. They’re defined by what I want. When I want it. They’re around if I like it then gone when I don’t. They’re not arms and questions and compromise. They’re disposable. But we all know that people aren’t disposable. And that fantasy is a strange place we go because we feel shame in wanting such a taboo reality.

So I’m trying to be realistic here. I take deep breaths to preserve oxygen until I can come back up for some relief. And I might let him stick around. I might let him hold me longer next time. I might let there be a next time. I make choices realizing that they lead to the same fork in the road that I’ve only imagined walking down. On one side, I make choices that lead to an ultimately successful relationship, resulting in marriage, kids, happiness, whatnots. On the other, I make choices that lead to being alone. Being surrounded by couples with smug looks on their faces while they flip through wallet photos of toothless children and runt puppies. Being independent and free to do whatever whenever with whomever I please. Neither appeals. Neither feels optional. Both feel inevitable. Both force loss. Both require compromise.

I’m working on it. I’m working on it one arm at a time. One reciprocation at a time. Letting feeling like being his mean nothing more than momentary comfort. Not letting myself pair feeling his with the fear that enjoying that emotion means vulnerability of needing that emotion and being lost without it. I’m trying to find a win-win rather than waiting for my win-lose. There doesn’t have to be a loss. I don’t want to be unmeant for marriage. I don’t want to be a relationship leper. I don’t want to be a quitter. Quitters never win. And I can’t lose.

I’m adopting a new if…then philosophy rather than separating relationships into if or when statements. There are no guarantees. There is no merit in hiding behind possibilities, either. Men and women put their necks on the line every day – why can’t I? Maybe I’m not hopeless. Maybe I just need to grow up and accept whatever comes because so far I’ve got nothing to lose. Well, there are a few things to lose - some of which I've been dying to get rid of. I guess I'm already seeing the upside of things.

I guess I'm more of a girl about relationships than I thought.

Who let's an arm wrapped around them invite the possibility of marriage, anyways?

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Location: Chicago, IL

I'm just about as smart as I look.

Hi, Mom.

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