29 May 2009

A week of introspection

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week about my relationship with T. Cuz, as we all know, it takes two. I can say, “She’s this, she’s that, she’s whatever” but what am I?

Here’s how I see myself: Strong, independent, opinionated, compassionate, generous, smart, hard working, thoughtful…

I’m getting the idea that my friends aren’t seeing me the same way.

I like to think that our relationship is 50/50 in most things. In the important things, anyway. But, it’s not 50/50 if I am always letting her have her way; if I am giving in to her demands. She has a lot of insecurities. I think that I tend to overcompensate to make sure she knows that she is number one with me. But, it’s not healthy to put myself on the back burner all the time. To make sure that she gets what she needs at the expense of taking care of myself.

Oh, it’s not all one way. Don’t get that idea. I get my way plenty of times. But I definitely let her think that she is the boss.

One time, not long after we got together, she said something about being the boss and I said, “Only because I let you be the boss.” She didn’t really like that. But, that’s how the dynamic works. Only with my consent; not by right, or might, or anything else, but only because I let you.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. It’s time for me to reassert my individuality. To do the things that I like to do that have nothing to do with her. I’ve invited her numerous times to try out my martial art and she is not interested. That’s ok, I don’t need her to participate for me to continue training. But, when she complains that I don’t do things with her, it’ll just be too bad ~ cuz you could do what I’m doing but you choose not to. And, when she wants to watch some idiotic program on tv, I’ll just go upstairs and read. Cuz that’s what I like to do.

This weekend I have a bunch of stuff going on at my dojo. I’m going to be there a lot. I’ve already given her a head’s up about it. I’ll be checking for any signs of disgruntlement. I don’t really expect any because she’s got plenty to do herself this weekend. But, I think I am in the process of redefining this relationship. I’d like it work. Time will tell.

26 May 2009


Most of the time I am such a Pollyanna. I like to see the bright side of things. I prefer to be happy and think the best of people. It feels better to live that way.

Today, though, I’ve lost my rose colored glasses. Well, probably misplaced them (Pollyanna!). There is so much crap going on right now; in California, at my work, in my life.

I went to visit my two best friends for the Memorial Day weekend. We met at KA’s house in Mountain View, California. Lisa lives in Long Beach, California and I live in Portland Oregon. We have met at my house and Lisa’s more recently and it was KA’s turn. Plus, I hadn’t seen her new back patio – aka, the Lanai. She has the tiki theme going strong out there.

I got there Friday at midday. Lisa arrived in the evening. We drank champagne and toasted our long friendship. We are all turning 50 this year and have known each other since high school. That’s more years than I feel like counting. We had a great time, exchanging gifts and catching up with each other.

In the morning, my girlfriend called, hysterical. Our young cat had been hit by a car and was dead. To say she was distraught is an understatement. Now, of course I was broken up by this too. He was a wonderful kitten and would have been the best of cats had he lived. So sweet and affectionate; he liked nothing better than so sit on one of us and soak up all the loving we could give.

T has suffered the loss of a pet before, and more importantly, the loss of family members. I don’t know how she handled those occasions because we’ve only been together a little over a year and this is the first time something painful has happened. Yes, our pets are like our children, and maybe I see it differently because I also have a human child. Her grief was profound and wrenching. And loud.

T’s family rallied round. Her brother in law and nephew came over to bury the kitty. Then her mom, brother, niece and nephew came over – they had been coming anyway for a barbeque. They hung out with her for the day and her niece spent the night at the house so that she wouldn’t be alone. They are a tight knit family.

I went home early. I knew that my partner needed me. I’m not callous, or insensitive to her pain. I loved that kitten just as much as she did and keenly felt the loss. I did want to be with her to grieve his death. But what difference would it have made if I had stayed for the rest of the weekend? Would that have made me seem indifferent? I’m staying to have a good time with my friends while my partner stays home crying? Probably.

Instead, my friends are unhappy with me. A little history on that is that last summer the same friends and I and an extended group of us all met in Hawaii for one of the group’s birthday. We had a great time and yes, I went home earliest. Partly because of my gf and partly because I wanted to get home a day or two before going back to work. But, my two bff’s were unhappy and thought that I was letting myself get lost in a relationship. I didn’t think so. But, this weekend was the first time we’ve gotten together since then and to have T call and ask me to come home early confirmed their feelings.

I had a very forthright conversation with KA this morning. She doesn’t pull her punches and just said what she thought. I very much prefer that to someone pussyfooting around and not saying what they mean and quietly drawing a conclusion that may or may not be right.

So now, my two best friends think that I am in an emotionally untenable relationship. If I am completely honest with myself, I will admit that on the surface it looks that way. T doesn’t want to keep me from my family and friends, but why are things playing out that way? I have to give that some serious thought. I love her, certainly, and she loves me. But…

And, my mom was disappointed that I came home early. Hmm…

So, with all of that going on and too much to think about, when I get to work I have a request from my manager to send my updated position description to HR. That’s never a good sign. We had a round of layoffs back in January. There was talk of another round in June before the end of the fiscal year. That’s all I need right now! T was laid off from her job last summer and has been scraping by with unemployment and then a series of crappy jobs. We can’t afford for me to be laid off. I don’t really think I will be – I have a lot of seniority here. But, it doesn’t make me feel to secure.

So, I’m sitting at my desk, working on my position description and when I check my Google account, I see the headlines: California voted the wrong way. It’s incomprehensible, really. What about our fucking civil rights?!

I’m not having a good day. That’s the long and short of it. I need to spend some time thinking and prioritizing my life. I have to look within and decide if KA and Lisa are right. And then think about what I will do about it. I’ll have to leave off my rose colored glasses when I take that internal look.


07 May 2009

What a week!

My big-ass birthday party was great fun. Had just over 50 friends there. I would have enjoyed twice that many but it was sufficient. I got to chat with most and (I think) greeted everyone. T survived. She doesn’t like big parties but she rose to the occasion. Several of her friends came, which was nice. A friend of mine from New Mexico came up on the Friday and went home on the Monday ~ honestly, house guests are harder on my girlfriend than big parties. She has to do a lot of accommodating to be with me.

I had arranged ahead of time to take the following week off work. I have a big project to take care of and this was my chance to get a solid chunk of it done. It’s an odious task, really. I’ve been putting it off because I felt overwhelmed by it. Cleaning The Basement.

I bought the house in 1994. My daughter and I have a moderate pack rat tendency ~ we are not hoarders, and are in fact capable of throwing out old and broken stuff. Our problem is that we are very sentimental. I probably had every piece of art she ever created. And all of the cutest kid clothes that she wore. She wanted to keep every stuffed animal she ever received. And the toys and games, and, and, and…

Add to this the coincidence that when we moved into our house, my parents were moving out of theirs and one of my brothers had been storing stuff at their house. So, we had boxes of stuff from the parents, the brother, AND the roommate who was moving in with us. Some of the stuff from my parents house had actually belonged to my paternal grandmother and had been schlepped around for a decade or so. What a mess!

The biggest obstacle for me was an old couch that the roommate had left behind. When she moved in it went directly to the basement and there it stayed. It is incredibly heavy! And ugly! And long, and curved, and just plain difficult. Besides the couch, there were two large area rugs and their pads that didn’t survive house training the dog. Yes, they had been sitting down there for years! It’s shameful and embarrassing but what can I say? I’ve been busy! So, getting the couch, the rugs and pads, an old foam camping mattress, the world’s largest stuffed dinosaur (I kid you not, this thing was about 8 ft long), and various odds and ends out of the basement, into the truck, and off to the dump was my goal for Monday. I had two people to help and it nearly wasn’t enough muscle power to get it done. But, we did. I felt so relieved ~ that couch had been a plug and once it was pulled, things started flowing.

Now, when I say ‘flowing’, I mean it literally. On Tuesday, day 2 of Operation Purge, I discovered that we had a little water problem. For an old house, the basement has been remarkably dry in this wet climate. I’ve only had a leak one time (in a different part of the basement) and that was because my neighbor’s downspout was pouring into my side yard. Once he fixed it, we dried out and it’s been dry since. This time however, it was entirely different and so much worse.

We had used one half of the basement for a tv area years ago. TV and storage, of course, for all that crap we couldn’t part with. So, that part of the basement had carpet on the concrete floor. Wow! Carpet holds a lot of water! And supports the growth of fungi! The things one learns in the basement… Everything sitting on the carpet was wet. Boxes of toys, baby clothes, out of date encyclopedias, childhood art projects, stuffed animals, assorted crap, you name it ~ all wet. All going in the truck and to the dump.

Over the course of the week, I took two loads of junk and one load of recycling (free!) to the dump. I have one more load ready to go and still lots of stuff to sort through. It made me a little sad and a lot nostalgic to see all the phases of my daughter’s life in those boxes. I was really fine with throwing out stuff that should have been chucked out years ago, but some of it caught at my heartstrings. I saved photos even if they were wet, and some of her art. Plenty of stuff was not salvageable, though. I tried to be strong and very firm with myself. I had asked Zoe for a list of things she really couldn’t part with and amazingly, about 80% of what she wanted to save was in a box together and dry. That made me happy.

So, I got rid of a bunch and sorted a bunch and still have lots of work to do, but it is a much more manageable task now. The real drag of the whole project was that two days after I got the wet carpeting out and everything spread out to dry, we had some torrential rain and sure enough, the basement still leaks. But now, I didn’t have the carpet to hold the water in place so it spread out further than it ever had! Criminetly! Stuff that I had saved was now wetter than ever! Argh! I made a dam out of an old blanket which had not yet made it to the dump, and held back most of the water. Of course, we are having the wettest spring on record and I’m going down to the basement after work every night and soaking up stinky water with old towels and wringing it into a bucket.

I told a coworker about my leaking basement and he said, “Oh yeah, we call it the indoor pool!” I guess it’s a Pacific Northwest thing… ya gotta laugh ~ there’s already too much water to cry.