Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rent Check

I pay rent every month to live in a townhouse that I haven't slept in but a handful of times. I have my favorite clothes, my makeup, my hair supplies and my good shoes over at Billy's. I have a dresser full of underwear and bras, jeans and sweaters, all at Billy's. The need for me to even visit the home I pay to live in has dwindled to almost nothing. And, in fact, the only time I'm there is when I'm required to watch my roommate's dog.

When I first started dating Billy, and staying over at his house every night, I felt the need to distinguish "my house" from "his house." When he'd call to tell me he was on his way home, he'd ask where I was. "Your house," I'd say, clicking away at his computer, one of his glasses in my hand, filled with the soda from his refrigerator. But now that distinction has fallen away. He calls at the end of his workday and asks "Are you home?" And I say yes, both of us knowing that when he says it, he doesn't mean the home I pay to live in.

Last week, for one night, I had to stay at my own house. Normally, Billy comes with me, but a difference in work schedules forced us to spend - gasp! - one night apart. While Billy lay nestled into bed, taking in the Olympics, I hustled around the room we share, gathering clothes into the big gorgeous Coach bag he gave me for Christmas for just this reason - shuttling my belongings between his house and mine. Needless to say, I haven't gotten a whole lot of use out of it. I was grouchy, tossing my hair dryer and hairspray into the bag, searching for my makeup and an outfit to wear to work the next day. He asked me why I seemed so mad. "I just hate it," I said, surveying the room for my earrings, "that I have to go there tonight."

"It's just one night," he said, calmly from beneath the sheets.

"Yes, but I," I argued, pointing to myself with a cell phone charger, "am a creature of habit. And this," I swept my arm across the room, "is my habit now. It just fucks up my whole routine."

He laughed at me, then watched as I threw a few more items into the bag. "You sure are packing a lot to spend the night at home." I stopped packing for a second and looked at him. "I mean," he continued, grinning from the King size bed we share, "don't you have clothes there? Do you have to pack so much? Couldn't you just use something you have there?"

I couldn't come up with a sufficient argument. "Well," I stammered, "I like these clothes. And, besides, hair and makeup alone takes up half that bag."

The truth was, I stopped doubling up a long time ago. When I first started dating him, I had two of everything: Two deodorants, two razors, two bags of makeup; It was so I could function completely in either house. It kept me from believing I was even sort of living with my boyfriend. Every day I made the drive from work to my house to pick up clothes for the next day, and then drove to his house to spend the evening. But then he told me, invited me, even, to keep clothes in his house. He gave me some closet space. And dresser space. And counter space. I didn't take any of his space by force, though. I waited until it was offered to me. This is the girl who dated a guy for almost four years without ever leaving clothes at his house, who stayed over maybe once a week. I am not in the business of imposing upon people. I have to be invited. And Billy invited me. So I accepted.

Pretty soon, the need to travel to my own home had all but vanished. Everything I needed could be found in the confines of Billy's house. My own home is basically just a storage unit for my extraneous odds and ends.

So something about the way Billy said I was going "home" struck me as odd. I had sort of come to think of his home as mine.

"Why don't you just move in with him?" My brother asked me over the phone the other night.

"Well, that's not really up to me," I'd replied. Once again, the burden of invitation falls squarely on his shoulders. "Besides, I like having my own place."

Yesterday, my landlord/roommate, Joe, called from Florida. He thought I should know that he's putting the townhouse up on the market. "I'm thinking about buying this penthouse apartment down here," he said. This is the third time now that he's had to drop that particular bomb on me. In the time I've been living with Joe, I've moved three times. Five if you count the time I had to move back into my parents' house for a three-month-in-between-homes stretch, only to move right back out. "I have to sell the townhouse to do it. But it doesn't really matter, right? I mean, you're always at your boyfriend's anyway."

It's true, I am. But I still like having a home where I can go if I need to. If I need to be alone, I can go to the house I actually pay to live in and decompress. I can listen to my music as loud as I want to, and dance around my tiny room if I so choose. Or I can just lay in my bed and watch TV, knowing that no one is going to interrupt my coma-like state. Rarely, though, have I chosen to exploit that option. I feel completely at home in Billy's house.

But, no matter how at home I feel there, I still like the idea of having a house of my own, someplace to go if things get rocky, or if my need for space gets the better of me. I may never use the house that I pay for, but at least I know it's there. And what if Billy and I don't work out? Our relationship is less than a year old...I always knew that, if it fell apart, I'd just cart my belongings back to my house. Now, I'm not so sure where I'd take them.

According to Joe, the real estate agent will be there today, assessing the home and preparing to list it. I will go there this weekend and clean up the room I so rarely use, even though I hate the idea that, if I don't start looking now, it may not be long before I don't have a place to call my own at all.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


It's funny what happens to you while you're perched in front of a computer on a Friday night, laundry tumbling and clicking in the dryer. For one, you realize you're an adult, that your Friday night now consists of whites and darks and detergent and softener, not bars and mixed drinks and thumping music. And two, your mood can change with the wind.

I sat at Billy's computer, with the intent to download some Stevie Wonder songs: If You Really Love Me, For Once in My Life, Overjoyed. And when I typed in Stevie's name, about a billion songs popped up. Songs I'd forgotten about, that sit in my ever-expanding CD collection, long forgotten. All I do (Is Think About You). And Lately. After Lately was stored in my library, I played while the rest of my songs made their way from cyberspace and into My Music. It was slow and sad, and it reminded me, for some reason, of a Susan Tadeschi song. So I followed my flow of consciousness and downloaded her songs, too; Another set of music I had forgotten to love. And hearing her songs made me think of Counting Crows, Anna Begins. So I found that one. But along with that song came a steady stream of even more Counting Crows. Piano versions, acoustic versions, slow sad songs that were on constant repeat when I was...well...sad.

I played them all in succession, my mood drifting steadily out of pleasant and cheery and into somber. I drank straight cranberry juice and thought of the exact moments I'd played the songs before, each one bringing to life a specific memory, a slideshow of me, then.

Billy's Music files are filled with my memories. Memories of my first days with him, memories of my sadder times, high school, junior high, childhood. I can sit at his computer and make a playlist of my life. It's good and bad, though. Sometimes I listen and soak in the past, happy to have made my way out of it and into where I am now. Sometimes it makes me sad for the person I was before.

Billy came home from work as I compiled my list. His day had been horrendous, his eyes weary. He looked defeated. The one highlight of his day was the pitfall of mine: He'll take his vacation in April. Coupled with the long stroll I had just taken down the alleys of my memory, his good news fell flat on my ears. It made me want to indulge in my music, to feel sorry for myself for some strange reason. But I went upstairs with him to bed instead, where he curled himself around me and told me about his day. I listened and offered the only support I could. He told me he loved me, then faded into silence. I listened to his breathing until it went slow and steady, the sound of sleep. I turned off the TV and kissed his sleeping eyes. I went to sleep with my arms around him, my face next to his, wishing I could make him feel better.

This morning, before work, I burned a CD of those slow songs, the thick melodies and heavy words that have followed me around for years. I listened to it on my dreary drive into work, singing along with the blues, over the pianos and guitars. I indulged like I'd wanted to last night, but for some reason I didn't feel the sadness I thought I would. It just reminded me of how good everything is now.

Friday, February 24, 2006

In a Cloud

After seeing one on Snapperhead's blog, I just had to do one of these "word clouds" for myself. I'm pretty pleased with the results.

Do one for yourself here. I, of course, took the liberty of making mine pink. But you don't have to.

Last Rights

I walked into the River Rock restaurant last night, pink coat buttoned up against the chilly wind, alone.

Billy was working late, as usual, and Nancy and Alex invited me to join them for a drink. So, with freshly painted nails, I drove to the restaurant to join them in a Thirsty Thursday bar outing.

Vicki, a friend of ours, stood in the front yard in the cold, talking on her cell phone. Her tone was that of frustration mixed with compassion. She's a realtor, and it's her job to stress out over the purchase of someone's home, while simultaneously reassuring them that everything will be fine and it will all work out in the end.

I waved to her and mouthed Hello, so as not to disturb her conversation. She waved and rolled her eyes at her phone, to indicate how fed up she was with working well past eight o'clock at night. I smiled and gave her a sympathetic nod to say "I know," and opened the heavy wooden door of the restaurant. Inside, at the cozy bar, sat Alex and Nancy, Vicki's boyfriend Jim and a friend of the group, Bill. I went around the room, giving kisses to the friends I so rarely see anymore, then plopped my overloaded purse on the floor and took a seat next to Nancy.

"Is Vicki still outside?" Nancy asked, setting her Vodka and Tonic on the bronze bar.

"Yeah, she's talking on her cell phone." I shimmied out of my coat and relaxed into the cushioned chair.

"She's working," Nancy said sadly, feeling sorry for Vicki that she'd have to work when she was supposed to be having fun.

I ordered my drink, and the conversation moved quickly to plans for the weekend, town gossip, light hearted jabs at one another. A third of my drink was gone when Vicki walked through the door with a gush of cold air.

"God, this sale is going to drive me crazy," she announced, kissing each one of us on her way to her seat. Her face was cold from the night air.

"You shouldn't work so late," her boyfriend said, helping her out of her leather jacket.

"I know! But I was talking to your ex," she said, pointing at me.

Vicki's been in the process of selling Tom's house for a while now. Unfortunately for both my ex and my friend, the sale just isn't going through.

"It still hasn't sold?" I said. "I saw him at the Turkey Hill before Christmas and he said he'd be gone in a few weeks."

"Shitty buyer," Vicki said, taking her first sip of the evening. "She's jerking us all around."

"That's too bad," I said earnestly. "He really wants to go."

She nodded as she swallowed her martini and set the glass on the bar. "He's been ready to go since December."

"No, he's been ready to go for four years," I corrected her.

"Yeah, but you kept him here, you bitch," Vicki said, following her accusation with a loud burst of laughter.

"Yeah. I guess I did."

She went on and on about the sale. The buyer, the buyer's boyfriend. The problems. The frustrations. I sat and stirred my drink, wondering why people assume I'm interested in knowing every detail of what goes on in my ex's life now.

But I thought about what Vicki said. How I'd been the reason he stayed so much longer than he'd wanted to. And it had to have been the truth. There really was no other reason to stay: Sure, some of his family lives here, but he'd lived away from them for ages. Distance is nothing to him.

And it made me think for a second. For all of the blame I toss around, for all of the hurt I still hold him responsible for, I forgot that there were sacrifices made on his part, too. He stayed around for me. We may not have ultimately wanted the same things, and we may not have ultimately wanted each other, but I wasn't the only one giving up what I wanted. I wasn't really the martyr I made myself out to be. He cared enough to stay here when he could've left a long time ago.

And I thought, sitting there, listening to Vicki talk about where my ex wants to live next, how happy he is to have the chance to just travel, I thought that maybe that very moment was one of my last steps in moving on. The bitterness had faded. I was genuinely sorry that his house hadn't sold, genuinely happy that he'd be doing what he wanted. I honestly, truly hope he's happy.

I feel like I finally put that ghost to rest.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Big Finish

I was soooo tired yesterday. Exhausted. And at the end of my workday, I looked at the gym bag in my passenger seat and tried very hard to convince myself that I wanted to go work out. It was, after all, my favorite class of the week: Kickboxing. But all I could think of was going home, curling up with my boyfriend (who had the day off and was actually home before 10:00) and watching American Idol.

But, at 5:00, I found myself in the gym's locker room, changing out of my work clothes and into my workout clothes.

After my class, I went home, sweaty and even more exhausted than I was before I went. I felt not unlike a toddler who hasn't had her nap: Grouchy, due only to lack of rest. I got home to Billy, who had just come out of the shower. I kissed him hello.

His first question to me was "What's wrong?"

I answered with my standard reply of "Nothing."

"But your eyes look so sad," he argued.

I love that about him. That he can tell, just by looking at me, that something is amiss. "Really," I said, "nothing is wrong, I just feel tired and...I don't know...blah."

So while I took my shower, he organized his ties. While I made dinner for us, he began to hang them all back up. After we ate, I buried myself in the blankets on the bed and watched American Idol while he continued to move ties from one side of the room to the other. I could feel the grimace I was wearing, unintentionally, on my face. Billy looked at me while he sorted through his hundred or so ties. "Cheer up," he said sweetly. I offered him a half-smile. "I will," I meekly assured him.

We turned our attention to the TV, where one the AI finalists was singing Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." The guy was dancing around, and finished his song holding a fist out at the camera. Billy and I both laughed. And then Billy busted out the moves he said he would use, were he ever a finalist on American Idol.

Singing the classic "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," he demonstrated the dance moves that would catapult him to American Idol fame. He was unsure of his big finish though. "What do you think? An ice-dancer style finish," he showed me the arched back and swooping arm final pose favored by the Olympic ice dancers we watched all weekend, "or jazz hands?" He held his arms out, fingers spread and fanning the air. I laughed until my stomach hurt.

And that's love. When a man is willing to use jazz hands to make you laugh.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Scrambled Eggs

I got the information in the mail on Friday. The stocks my former employer had purchased in my name totaled almost ten thousand dollars. It was one of the few benefits I reaped from working at the bank. I was giddy. I calculated, quickly, how much of that would have to go to taxes in 2007, then how much would be left over. I fantasized about paying off my car and my credit card - the only debt I have in my life, besides my phone - and tucked the paperwork back into its official-looking envelope.

"Dare I say it?" I said to my mom. "That things could be -"

"Don't!" She interrupted. "Don't jinx it!" She knew I was going to say Things could be working out for me.

"Oh! Right!" I said, and we shared a giggle over our insane attachment to superstition. But I still thought it: Yes, this is all going to work out.

I called my "Financial Advisor" yesterday to tell him the good news. We had already discussed what I'd do with the money once I got the statement. I told my friends, my family, my boss that I'd be debt free just as soon as everything went through. Visions of extra money each paycheck danced in my head as I faxed the statement and the accompanying paperwork into my advisor. Mentally, I had already written out the checks that would rid me of my monthly obligation to the bank and the credit card company. I was as good as unchained from debt.

And then I got the call.

"Uh, Laurie," Pat, my advisor, said into the receiver, "this is a retirement plan. If you take it out, you're going to pay a hefty penalty to the government on top of having to claim whatever you take as income."

I wasn't aware of any penalties.

Quickly, I scanned the documents that came with the statement. Clearly, I had been blinded by the bottom-line total of my money, and paid little attention to the subparagraph 1-B that said withdrawing any money while I'm under 59 and a half years of age - I suppose that "and a half" is very important - will result in a penalty. Taking anything will cost me 30% of whatever I take. Minimum.

"But," Pat continued, "you can roll it over into your current retirement account, or another qualified plan, and there aren't any taxes or penalties." His voice was hopeful, suggesting that I shouldn't be as pissed off as I was starting to sound.

"But I already have a retirement account. I wanted to use this now." It wasn't his fault that I didn't pay attention to what the bank gave me. I suppose the fault was solely mine. But I was still angry. I was so ready to have that extra money. So ready. And, just as quickly as I found it in my mailbox, it was gone.

My mood, since I accepted the fact that I will still have to pay my credit card bill and car loan every month, has been gloomy. It's like I have this little dark cloud hanging over me. The money was right there, so close I could almost taste it - or use it, as it were - and then it was ripped away from me. It felt like the bank seized one last opportunity to fuck me. And that just brings me down.

So, naturally, I was late getting up this morning. And I knocked over bottles on the bathroom counter while I did my hair. And I got stuck behind a bus on my drive in to work. I can literally feel my nerves, and everything that's getting on them. My hair is pissing me off, my shirt itches, and I feel fat.

Yes, obviously, I'm in the throes of a feminine cycle. Obviously. But I think that if even I weren't, I would be irritated right now. Because all it takes for me is one inconvenience or disappointment - like ten thousand dollars that I can't use until I'm Fifty-Nine-And-A-Half years old - and suddenly any and every occurrence in my day is a possible catalyst to a breakdown. I just know I'm going to cry before this day is over. I just know it.

I suppose this is what happens when you count your chickens before they hatch; You don't get chickens at all. Just eggs. Fucking eggs.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Why Am I Always Late To Work?

This is why.

This is the new King Size bed that was delivered by two men a few weeks ago.

The sheets are 470 thread-count Egyptian Cotton. All six pillows are there for the using - No decorative pillows for us; We are serious sleepers. The bed itself is deliriously soft, with a six inch pillow topping on the firm mattress. It's like sleeping on a cloud, but with support.

The frame, box springs, mattress and bedding take up roughly, oh, half of the room. It's so big, my six-foot-four boyfriend can stretch out his arms AND his legs and not have one digit hanging off. It's high, too. We had to elevate the TV so that it could still be seen from both sides of the bed. The old bed was much, much lower, hence the hanging artwork directly above our pillows. I'm constantly banging my head into the frame, threatening to knock Billy's painting right off the wall. I worry about how much trouble I'd be in if I actually knocked it off the wall and it fell, say, on top of my head, in the style of some played physical comedy sketch where the canvas tears around my scalp and I wind up wearing the painting and the frame as one big, obtrusive necklace. Billy painted that years ago, and, needless to say, it's a one-of-a-kind. I don't think I could "Whoops!" my way out of that one. And there's very little room to walk around the mammoth yet luxurious Kingsdown bed, causing a massive reduction in floor space, which results in the room looking ten times messier than it should with only a few items miscellaneous items on the floor.

But it is so worth it. Last night, I fell asleep watching TV, on my back (I'm a stomach-sleeper) and with full makeup on. And I woke up in exactly the same position with the TV still on. Billy turned it off in the wee hours of this morning, since he didn't have to get up for work for another two hours, and said "I can't believe we fell asleep with the TV on again." It was the third night - in a row - that we awoke having not moved a muscle, with the Olympics still on from the night before. "It's the bed's fault," I said. And I rolled over to go back to sleep, but was careful not to smush yesterday's mascara into the pillowcase.

Making that bed, however, has become a task of epic proportions. What once took me all of two and half minutes, now involves many trips from one side of the bed to the other, tucking and pulling and even-ing out the sides. And then we get into it and it's a mess in just under a minute.

But it's such a treat to sleep in that thing. Sometimes I actually look forward to laying down in it. And getting up in the morning has become a near impossibility.

So when my boss (who did, by the way, call before I made it into work yesterday, and made a point of saying "I called at ten after eight and no one was here." I got busted.) gives me the rats for being late all the time, I'm going to blame it on the bed.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Random Afternoon

So, I do a lot of blog-reading. A lot. Like, an inordinate amount of my day is spent checking and re-checking that list of blogs on the right to see if they've been updated. Along with a handful of others that are either saved as favorites on my computer (I've been too lazy to add them as links) or from links on other people's sites.

And I follow the daily life of so many people that I get a little, I guess, weird about it. I actually caught myself referring to an awesome fellow blogger - with whom I've never exchanged personal words beyond comments - as a "friend from Ann Arbor." Huh? And then, of course, I have a small network of people who have become what I consider to be friends through the blog. (Casey and Dale and Scoot and NJ and Julie fall into this category. And they're all familiar with my horrible KIT skills.)

But then, there are some blogs that I've never commented on. But I read them daily. And two of these just recently came out with big news. One of the bloggers announced a pregnancy, an engagement, and a miscarriage in the space of three days. One just announced a pregnancy.

And it's so strange, but I totally wanted to tell someone "Oh my God! Guess who's pregnant! [Insert Blogger's Name Here]! Can you believe it? I'm so happy for her!" And "Oh my God! [Blogger] is engaged! Isn't that wonderful!" But I'm pretty much the only person I know who is deeply involved in this whole blogging thing. So no body would know who I'm talking about.

But isn't it strange to get this involved in some stranger's life? I mean, I love it, don't get me wrong...But isn't it a bit peculiar to realize that you've just felt genuine glee or sorrow for someone you've never met? I can't believe how close I feel to some of these bloggers.

Is that strange?


It was almost sixty degrees here yesterday. Standing out in the parking lot at work, I could smell the sun on the asphalt. Wearing my sunglasses and no coat, I savored the taste of spring that Thursday offered.

Today, the morning DJ I listen to said the high would around fifty-five. When you're used to snow and thirty degree weather, 55 feels positively tropic.

It was raining this morning, though. And I was late. I sped down the road to work with my windshield wipers on full speed, clearing the glass of the thick droplets of rain that threatened to impair my vision. I drank my coffee and listened to Howard Stern, sure that today would be better than yesterday, maybe not in terms of the weather, but at least in terms of my mood.

And then I saw it: My boss's car, heading in the opposite direction. I couldn't be sure he recognized my car, but if he had, I'm sure he took a second to look at his clock. It was already past eight, and I was a good fifteen minutes away from the office. I'm supposed to be in at eight.

Climbing into my car this morning, I thought of the reasonable excuses I could employ for being late: I got stuck behind a dumptruck/tractor-trailer/school bus on the drive up, and I had no chance to pass (I take a long, two lane road to work). I had no power this morning and was therefore not ousted from sleep by an alarm (even though the power was fine and I just hit the snooze button about thirty times). I couldn't sleep last night. I have stomach problems. I ran through them all, wondering which excuses sounded better than the truth which was that I just didn't realize how much time I took getting ready this morning.

I pulled into work, unlocked the door, turned on the lights and sat down at my computer, sure that the boss would stroll in only seconds later. I figured, since he was going in the opposite direction, he was probably just stopping at the local mini mart for coffee and would be right behind me. I made myself look busy in preparation for his arrival. I also expected the phone to ring, with him on the other end checking that I'd finally made it in. I decided to go with whichever excuse popped into my head in the exact moment I spoke to him. If I gave any excuse at all.

And, just as I suspected, the phone rang.

And, just as I suspected, it was my boss.

However, not as suspected, he was calling me from Atlantic City. "We came in to gamble last night and decided to stay over. We're leaving now," he said through the receiver. "I'll be back in about three hours. You can call me if you need anything, I'll be on the road."

Ever have one of those days where you just feel lucky?

Because, now, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining. My other coworker called and said she'd be stopping to see some customers on the way in, which means I'm alone in the office for at least another half hour; which means I can check my email and drink my coffee in silence. And I don't have to work tomorrow. Hopefully, this is a sign of a good weekend to come.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Reach Out and Touch Someone

I have been a really shitty friend.

Last night, I met with my friend, Laura, for a quick drink right after work. The purpose of our meeting was to exchange Christmas presents. Christmas presents. It's February, for Christ's sake.

On Valentine's Day, for the first time in probably a month, I spoke to Pollo. And why did we speak? Because I got a text message from her that read "Even if you forgot about me, I hope you have the best Valentine's Day ever." We texted back and forth until I was able to get away from my desk for a second to actually call her. I missed her accent, her laugh. I missed her. But it took her reaching me for me to reach back.

I made plans, oh, probably a month ago to meet with Melanie. But snow came. And then work got in the way. After three failed attempts at seeing each other, we forgot to reschedule for a fourth time.

I haven't gone out dancing with Derek in months, longer if you don't count the one night we both wound up at the same Christmas party.

I haven't seen Ed & Scott since before winter's first snowstorm. In fact, the last time I was there, I don't even think I wore a coat.

Nancy and Alex are probably the only people I see, but even they are getting scraps of my time. They'll call to meet for drinks or have dinner, and I'll go over my schedule, and come up with a day a week from now where I can see them.

I have not called my amazing friend Tumbleweed in ages. And I haven't spoken to my friend Dominique since she got married in May.

And don't even get me started on how little I see my family. When I'm staying at Billy's (which has been for the last, oh, five and a half months), my parents live literally two minutes away. Yet I still have a hard time finding the time to see the two people I love most in this world. And my brother? We haven't had a conversation that lasted over five minutes since he went back to school in January.

And it's not that my evenings are so chock full of activity that I just can't squeeze in any socializing. After work, I might go to the gym, but then it's home. Throw a load of laundry in the washer and plop myself in front of the computer or the TV with a glass of wine. I'm so tired on my half hour drive home, that I sometimes wish it were acceptable to just go to bed at 6:30. But if I went to bed that early, I wouldn't see Billy when he gets home at 9:00. The only thing I want, in driving home at the end of the day, is to curl up in bed with my boyfriend and something good on DirecTV.

I just quit my second job at a local township, freeing up the whopping two evenings a month that it claims. I just got a new phone, with a new plan so that I can talk during the day and not worry about going over my minutes. I should be all caught up with my friends. I'm making more money now, so I can't even blame my homebody behavior on lack of funding. Hell, when I was making no money, I was out every night. I found a way to afford a social life.

But then, when I was out all the time, when my roommate Joe would see me right after work and say "Lemme guess: You'll be out tonight, right?", I was single. Or, I was in a relationship, but my boyfriend lived a half hour away and only wanted to see me if I wanted to drive to see him. And going out was more appealing than staying home with a phone that wouldn't ring. Most nights, anyway.

I go through phases: I'll be extremely social one week, then a complete introvert the next. Apparently, I've been an introvert for the last six months, sequestering myself from everyone but Billy. And it's not that I'm not allowed to go out without Billy. He'd give me his blessing if I said "Hey, I won't be home till late tonight; I'm going out with some friends." He'd tell me I looked nice, kiss me, tell me to have a good time and tuck himself into bed with a Jack & Ginger, a pack of cigarettes and the remote. And I'd come home to find him in the exact same spot. Only, probably, he'd be asleep. It's just that I really enjoy spending my time with him, doing nothing. And he feels the same way. At least that's what he says. We truly enjoy each other's company. Whether we're out somewhere or home in bed, I'm having a good time. And, unfortunately, I've turned out to be one of those girls who neglects her friends because she's so enamored of her boyfriend.

And I know that's so bad. I've heard all those "boyfriends come and go, but friends stay forever" lines. And, trust me, if anybody knows that to be the truth, it's me...

But it isn't just when I have a boyfriend that I'm like this. It's pretty much all the time. Yes, I'm more sociable when I'm single, but even then I got into a mode where I can't stand to be around people, and I'd lock myself up in my house and just be by myself.

The problem is this: Single or attached, I tend not to be a very demonstrative person when it comes to my friends. And most of them know and understand that. Usually, if someone wants to talk to me, they have to call me. It's not that I don't think of my friends and family often, but I'm just a very hands-off friend. I'll go three weeks without talking to someone and think nothing of it. It doesn't mean I love them any less, or that I'm angry, it just means that I haven't thought to call them, not that I haven't thought of them. Besides, I hate to talk on the phone (though Verizon does disagree with me on that), so a phone call from me takes extra special effort.

But now, when I next see any of my friends, it will be six months' worth of recaps. I'll have to go over everything about Billy and my new job, my family and my personal triumphs and failures. And my friend will have the same responsibility, to catch me up on all the happening in his or her life. Which means we have to block off, like, a four hour chunk of time to do all the catching up that needs to be done... And the longer I wait, the worse it gets. I know I'm going to get shit for not calling, then I'll have to make excuses, and I'll feel guilty...And it just gets so overwhelming that I...I don't know...hide, I guess.

Some of my friends understand that: That my absence, my disappearance is nothing personal. That we'll reunite sooner or later, and we can pick up exactly where we left off. But they know I'll be there for them if they need me, just as I know they'll be there for me when I need them. Some people, and some family members, don't understand that at all. Feelings get hurt, and I'm the thoughtless friend/daughter that never calls and never makes time for them. The people that I do call regularly...That's an effort. I have to remind myself to call, tell myself to keep in touch.

I always swear I'm going to change that about myself. That's been a New Year's Resolution of mine for ages. "I'll call people when I say I will. I'll make time for friends and family..." And then December comes and I've gone another year as the person people have to track down to talk to.

Maybe I should try that resolution now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


She never really got over what happened
Says she'd be better if she left it alone
She said it always seems to end up in heartache
Couldn't be bothered, it's a waste of her time.

Here I am, at work, only succeeding in working myself up into a frenzy of questions about my boyfriend. I worry that, suddenly, he's grown tired of being with me, of handling me with the care I require. I'm upset, wondering how I will fix myself this time, how I will do it without scaring him. How I will control the damage that I seem to always find with my delicate and wounded psyche.

And then Billy walked in the door, cup of coffee in hand for me.

He said if she would open up to the option
He thinks that maybe he could change her mind
She knows it's possible that he could be lying but
Maybe it's worth it, maybe he's the one

I forget that you do nice things for the once that you love. Whether it be coffee in the middle of the day, or remembering to favor your sore spots. That's what you do. And just as I can't let myself collapse into the whiny, insecure, desperate person I was in my past relationship, I can't expect myself to just be okay. I'm allowed to carry around some doubt, some trepidation. And we both - Billy and I - have to work to make it work. I have to work on trusting that I won't be hurt, he has to help me believe that. Just as I'll make him believe I'd never do anything to hurt him.

There it goes,
on your heartstrings
Once again, did you ever think that you'd get away
There it goes, calling you to jump into its fire
All you can do, is pray that you don't get burned

Of course we all worry about being hurt. It's natural. Your heart is crushed in one way or another, and you're left with the bruises that remain. So you're careful. If you plummet from the Monkey Bars in grade school, fracturing your elbow, you're not so quick to climb back up and try to do that flip again. You wear the sling. You save the climbing until you've healed. And even then, you're nervous. That's what we do. It's self-preservation.

She's never had a lot of luck with romance now
It's only logical that she'd be afraid
But something's telling her to give it a chance now
Don't wanna listen but she has no choice

But no matter how much you try to stay away, that playground equipment calls to you. Maybe you start with just dangling. Then you walk across the laddered silver bars with your hands. Then maybe you flip upside down, your knees hooked over the bar. And then, later, once you're comfortable with it again, you try the flip; You're lulled by his voice and his eyes and the way he kisses, and the way he genuinely cares. And you know that, even if you try and swing, he might be the kind of guy who will be your spot, who will catch you if you can't hold on.

Something about him makes her wild and excited
And when he calls she can't contain how she feels
Lately she wants to know if he's alright
She's starting to believe that maybe it's real

And eventually, you get to a point where you realize that falling maybe wouldn't be so bad. That it's so glorious swinging there, it's worth the chance. And he reminds you, constantly, of his presence. And sure, he may want to do his own thing, too. Maybe go over and use the slide, use the swings...But he'll be within earshot. And as long as you don't require his constant, undivided and unwavering attention, he's happy to run back if you need him. And you can't get over how amazing that feels.

There it goes,
on your heartstrings
Once again, did you ever think that you'd get away
There it goes, calling you to jump into its fire
All you can do, is pray that you don't get burned

Pretty soon, you start to stop worrying about the fall. And about whether or not he's right beneath you. And you start to trust yourself, your instinct to grab a hold with your hands if you feel unstable. You've been ignoring that instinct for a while, but you remember you have it. But, more than that, you start to trust the man who's promised he'll be there.

Anthony David

Everything That Used To Be

It must be hard to be my boyfriend.

For one, I'm obviously needy. Yeah, well, so what? Big deal. At least I admit it.

And two, I carry a lot of baggage. Baggage that my boyfriend is forced to unpack on an almost daily basis. He knows my luggage so well, in fact, that he recognizes it. He knows when I've found a stray knapsack of something and am threatening to run with it. He sees it. He calls me on it. But, first, he tries to avoid letting me find it in the first place.

Billy's aware of most of what transpired in my relationship before him. He knows there were good times, and he knows there were bad. He also knows that I'm terrified of a reincarnation of the bad times.

He reminds me, from time to time, "I'm not him. I'm not that guy." And I have to remember that. But it's hard sometimes.

You live your life being disappointed for so long, eventually, you just give in to it. You spread your arms and fall backwards into deflated hopes and extinguished expectations. And you don't bother trying to pull yourself out, or convincing yourself it'll be different, because you know some things never change. Death. Taxes. I'll be disappointed. It's that easy. And, now, when you see even a glimmer of a possibility of the disappointment that came before, you sigh, "Here we go again," and fold yourself into sorrow before he even has a chance to prove you wrong.

You're wary of being built up because you know what it leads to. You think promises of the future are just fairy tales, offered purely for the sake of keeping you quiet in the now, nevermind what's really in store for later. It just serves to make you shut your trap. You find yourself really, truly happy, and you stop dead in your tracks and look around you. No. Wait. This isn't right. If I'm this happy, it means that something is about to be taken from me, or broken, or both. I can't be this happy without some sort of addendum. There has to be a catch. And you just stand there and wait for the hammer to drop. And if there is, in fact, no hammer, you look for it. You scrutinize the way he holds your hand, how he kisses you, how often he calls and look for proof that something's missing. That things are about to change. Because, obviously, you are not allowed to be this happy for long.

You hate Valentine's day because it's never been anything but a day that makes you cry. You always cried on Valentine's day. Always. Because you thought "Okay, this year, things are going to go alright. I'll get flowers, or dinner, or a card or something," and you were always left with nothing. Okay, you got flowers from the Grand Union and dinner at a chain restaurant. And the one time he took you to a cute, local restaurant, he decided (again) to take you without calling ahead to find out if they had seats available, so you ended up sitting at the bar and eating crabcake appetizers for your Valentine's Day dinner. You just knew that he never took your feelings into consideration. That even though he loved you, you never really meant enough to him for him to treat well. He was always late picking you up, always, but not because he was held up at the office or anything. Because "time got away from" him while he was on the computer doing God knows what, and he let you sit and wait and wonder and worry. And the tears built up in the time between when he said he would be there and actually showed up, threatening to ruin the eyeshadow you so carefully applied to your lids in preparation for the evening. But the tears didn't actually spill from your ducts until after you got home. You got through dinner, and you got through the drive back to his house. But as soon as you got into your car to drive to YOUR home, they fell. One after another. Another year, you thought, that I've spent crying. Maybe, your mind continued, it'll be different next year.

So I know how Billy must've felt when he called from work last night to tell me he'd be late, that there was no way we'd make our 8:00 reservation. He apologized, hoped I wasn't mad, and said "I know you've been let down in the past."

And I love that he knew that, that it mattered to him that I wasn't let down yesterday. So we went to dinner when he got home. He made sure we went out, even though it was after nine and he was exhausted. Because he didn't want me to be disappointed. And I wasn't. I loved every minute of it.

But he just seemed so weary. I try to tell myself that, because he loves me, he's willing to make sure I'm happy...But I'm terrified of the thought that one day his patience will just wear out. That he'll get sick of handling me with such care to avoid a meltdown or my running away. That he'll grow tired of reminding me that he's not the guy who hurt me, that he's not in the business of hurting me.

And I'm trying so hard, so hard, to not hold him accountable for what happened to me before he came along. I'm really doing my best to separate the hurt of yesterday from the wondeful man I have today. But it's just so fucking hard. I live with all of these scars that threaten to pop open at any given second. And I tend to them daily, fighting back the insecurity that seeps out, the doubt that festers, the fear that infects them. But sometimes it just takes so much to nurse them that it gets away from me. And it's then that Billy picks up the gauze and helps. It comforts me, to know he's there and conscious of how I feel. But now it's fostering more fear. What if he gets sick of helping?

I know I probably sound crazy. Maladjusted. Needy. Fucked up. And maybe that's all true. But you find someone for whom you would do or give anything, you want to make sure he's happy too. And you worry that your peccadilloes are standing in the way of him being as fulfilled as you are. Because, most times, I forget the wounds are even there. I can live every day with him knowing I'm loved, not worrying about being hurt. And then one fucking rusty edge of a feeling gets exposed, and I'm back to licking my wounds.

This post will probably come down shortly. I'm only posting it because I need to get it out of my system.

Besides, I feel like this is even more personal that I usually get. I feel pretty naked right now. And I'm not a big fan of being this vulnerable.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


God, how I hate heart-shaped jewelry. And cards that boast texturized roses, with large cursive script across the top saying "To the One I Love." These are often the cards that have tissue-like overlays and embossed messages the size of short novels. I loathe vats of red, grocery store roses, the easiest, cheapest, most cliched way to say "I Love You." They also say "These are a sure bet; Because, who doesn't like red roses?" I hate Mylar balloons that scream "Happy Valentine's Day." And I hate them even more if they're obnoxious and LARGE. Like, the size of a medium-sized child.

But I do love flowers, original arrangements on special occasions that make you stop what you're doing to admire them from time to time. And love songs. And simple notes of affection. Text messages that say he's thinking of me, voicemails that remind me I'm on his mind, emails that say he can't wait to get home. I love dining out on Sunday nights, at our favorite restaurant at a corner table. Candles and shiny silverware, soft gold lighting and hand-holding across table linens. I love a kiss for no reason, professions of affection out the blue.

I love when we lie down to sleep, and he pulls me into him. I love when we wake up, our bodies curled and facing each other, like closed parentheses. I love when he says, for no reason in particular, "I love you." I love when we make each other giggle, when the bed beneath our bodies shakes with our laughter. I love when he opens the door for me, lets me walk in ahead of him. I love how, when we're in a crowd, involved in separate conversations, he places his hand on the small of my back, just to let me know he's there. I love when he brushes stray hairs from my face, when he tucks a lock of it behind my ear for me when we talk face to face.

I love his smile, broad and consuming his whole face. I love his eyes, how they crinkle with a chuckle, widen with surprise. I love how he asks me if I've had enough to eat, if I need anything to drink. I love that he comes home with little surprises for me sometimes: The Twix that I mentioned the night before, the coffee I said I prefer, a bottle of red wine. I love how he listens to me, remembers my preferences and my requests. I love that he gives me the side of the bed where it's easier to see the TV. I love how he asks me if I've slept alright every morning, and if I had a good day every night.

I love that he sees in me exactly what I'm feeling: He knows when I'm sad, frustrated or angry; and exactly when I'm happy. I love that he asks to see my smile when I'm upset.

I love when he tells me I'm sexy, when he tells me I'm beautiful. I love that he makes me feel like he wants no one in this world but me. I love the way he looks at me when he gets home, the way he consumes me with tired eyes. I love that I feel beautiful around him, even with no makeup on and messy hair.

I love that he loves me for exactly who I am, that he doesn't want me to change in the slightest. I love that I know that what I am is enough for him, that I don't have to lose or gain a few pounds, that I don't have to watch what I say or how I say it. I love that I know he's going to love me even if I have a bad day, if my mood isn't always good.

And I love who he is. The way he makes everyone around him feel at ease, the way he gracefully slips into any situation. I love his intelligence, the broad knowledge he keeps, but doesn't flaunt. I love his sense of humor. I love everything he's done in his life that makes him who he is. I love the way he kisses, the way his hands feel on my skin, the way his skin feels beneath my fingertips. I love him.

I love that I was afraid of him, that our romance blossomed from nothing into something beyond what I'd ever imagined. I love that he took me completely by surprise, in being a gentleman, in being good to me, in being the man I had given up looking for. I love that he loves me back, just as much as I love him.

I love that, for the first time in a long time, I don't need Valentine's Day to know I'm loved.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I'm the kind of person who asks these sorts of questions a lot:

What's wrong?
Are you mad at me?
Is everything okay?
Etcetera, etcetera.

More often than not, these questions are directed toward coworkers, friends...And, more than likely, toward a female.

Women are strange creatures. They don't come out and tell you they're upset with you. They're catty, and they do sneaky little things that let you know you're on their shit list. I should know; I do it myself. I can't look at you if I'm upset, or I'll answer your questions in quiet, monosyllabic responses. I won't let you tell me I'm wrong, I'll argue with you for no reason, just to show you that you're not the boss of me.

I didn't say it was mature.

So when I see these traits exhibited in the women in my life, I instantly seek out the cause. But, frankly, I don't really care if you're upset because your car is on the fritz, or because you're stressed out. I just want to make sure the root of the problem isn't me.

I have a problem with wanting everyone to like me. I want to please everyone, I want to be the cool girl you work with, the cool chick you hang out with. I don't want to be the one who gets on your nerves, and I can't stand the thought of you saying something like "God, I just can't stand Laurie today."

I'm especially aware of how you feel about me when I feel less-than-spectacular about you. For some reason, if I'm upset with you, it's extra-special important to make sure that you're not upset with me. I start to wonder if my latent anger toward you has seeped out and has become obvious. Because very rarely will I want anyone to know I'm angry with them.

My frustration with the people in my life, women especially, comes in waves. My affection or disdain for someone ebbs and flows, and if I like you today, I'll probably shift back into dislike in a matter of moments. But that dislike will pass, and before I know it, I'll like you again. That's just how I am. I let little things get under my skin; Like the way you say my name, or how often you call, or how often you unknowingly invade my personal space. But these, I realize, aren't character flaws. They can't make me hate you, and they can't warrant my distaste for you beyond a few hours. They're just my little idiosyncrasies that I'm projecting onto you. And I know that. So I try not to hold you responsible for my obsessive-compulsive disorder.

But, sometimes, my frustrations get the best of me, and I'll find myself grotesquely annoyed with someone over something silly like two phone calls in a row. I get overly competitive, and find myself angry over a bout of I do this better than you. Even though I know I'm probably the only one competing. So I'll seethe, and maybe even vocalize (out loud, but to no one but myself) how irritating you've become. But I know it will pass, if given time.

And, of course, there are times when my aggravation with someone is warranted: Perhaps you've made one too many jokes at my expense, knowing that I'm too good-natured to stand up for myself, and too proud to let you know you've hurt my feelings. Or maybe you've taken the liberty of calling out one of my many flaws. Flaws that I try my best to ignore. Maybe you've been mean to someone I love, or you've challenged my intelligence. These things, to me, are sufficient reasons to be upset with you.

But if I'm annoyed with you, and I begin to notice that you may, in fact, be annoyed with me, too, I go into repair mode. What did I do to make her mad? How can I fix it? I simply cannot let sleeping dogs lie. And I cannot live with knowing someone is mad at me. It drives me crazy.

In my head, I go over the things I may have done to upset you. And I'll think of excuses and explanations that I feel will dismantle the situation. So I'll try to drag it out of you by offering you the opportunity to tell me how pissed you are at me. And then I can offer you my prepared "explanation" (that is, probably, really just an excuse...An attempt to explain away truly shitty behavior on my part.) and we can get on to being friendly again.

And, deep down, I'll be annoyed with you for being annoyed with me.

Men, I don't envy the fact that you have to deal with women.


Not to state the obvious or anything, but Valentine's Day is tomorrow. And because I have this wonderful boyfriend who makes me blissfully happy, it's fun for me to reflect on Ghosts of Valentine's Days Past - The Horrible, the Just Sorta Bad and the Good.

Reflect with me, respectively: Here, here and here.

Also, I appreciate all the help and comments with regard to my question about Divinities's design.

Because DesignGuy said it would be costly to get a new one, and I'm not really a fan of the other templates Blogger provides, it looks like we'll be staying the same (but what about a banner? Would that be any easier, DesignGuy?)...And yesterday I actually put my digital camera in my purse, which means that it'll be with me everywhere that I go. Billy's camera is the same as mine, so it should be relatively easy to hook my camera up to the computer at his house. Which means that, yes, I will (hopefully) be posting pictures very, very soon.

Nude ones.

No, not really.

But I will post pictures.

That all being said, I'm actually quite busy here at work today...Which means that I don't really have the time right now to devote to a real post. Later tonight, hopefully.

But anyway, Happy Valentine's Day Eve!

Friday, February 10, 2006


Now that Divinities is a year old (and I've proved to myself that I'm going to stick with this whole "blogging" thing), I've been thinking about making some changes.

Namely, the design.

But I am clueless - CLUELESS, I tell you - when it comes to template changes, much less a whole redesign.

I clicked on some links from some of my favorite blogs (things that said "Design by:") and perused the templates and portfolios of a few people. But I'm not finding anything that blows me away. And, really, I don't quite understand it.

Do you tell these people what you want, and then they go to town designing something for you? Do you pick a few elements out of their portfolios? And what if you have no idea what you want your blog to ultimately look like? Do they help you? Do they look at your blog and give you ideas? And what if you don't like what they do? What then?

Also, I saw on one "Transferring of posts begins at $35.00" or something like that. What? Does that mean I have to pay to have all of my eighty billion posts transferred into a new template? Because that, to me, sounds like it could get expensive. I'm wordy. I post a lot. I'm not concise.

But I think Ol' Divinities looks pretty boring. Don't you? I mean, sure, it's alright, but I think we need some, I dunno, pizzaz around these parts.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Tips? Help? Advice?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fear of Flying

Billy goes away once a year. His commitment to travel somewhere new annually has allowed him to pepper his conversations with phrases like: When I lived in Africa...When I spent the summer in Costa Rica...When I lived in Italy...When I traveled through Morocco... But when he says it, it doesn't sound boastful or pretentious, it's not look at me, at how much I travel, how much money that implies I have. It's just more of a fact, a puzzle piece of a conversation. And you expect, even upon seeing him for the first time, that he's worldly. There's an air about him that announces his experience; A calm confidence that few people posses. A desire to be nothing but who he is, and an acceptance of everyone around him.

He travels modestly, packing what I'm assuming is just enough to clothe and sustain him in his journey. He stays in hostels, with friends he's met in previous travels, where ever there's a bed. He's bartended in Central America, can name people he knows who live in places I've never heard of. It all adds up to make him larger than life, a soul full of experiences and lacking in judgment. He fits in everywhere, as an individual.

I always try to picture his life before I knew him - before the two-story home in the Poconos, before a job that held him hostage from eight in the morning to nine at night - in some strange foreign country, smoking cigarettes and talking to whomever finds themselves in his proximity. When he talks about what he's done, where he's been before, I always picture him in some strange locale, and he's always smiling.

The life he lived before me, before this job, allowed him the freedom to pick up and go whenever he felt like it. With no need for fancy hotels or gourmet meals, he backpacked around whatever continent he found himself on. He mingled with locals at hole-in-the-wall cafes and bars on the beach. To me, it sounds simultaneously horrible and delicious.

But now, working where he does, with a mortgage to pay and a house to keep, his traveling is limited to one month a year. When he took his current job, he negotiated a month's vacation time. One month, at one time. Not four weeks throughout the year: One month. Thirty days of vacation taken in one shot. So that he can quench his desire to travel, not just vacation.

It's good for his soul, the traveling. It makes him rich in personality and tales. It thickens his stories, it compliments his character. It makes him sexy. But, too, he needs it: To get away.

We had been dating for only a few months when Billy regretfully mentioned that there was something we'd need to talk about: His vacation. Originally, he told me he would be gone for "a couple of weeks" in February. But I knew, before he told me anything, about his yearly trips."A couple weeks?" I said. "Like, four weeks?" Almost against his will, he confirmed that, yes, it's a four week trip. "But you won't even notice it, I promise. It'll fly right by," he said. "And don't be mad. It's just something I have to do." His tone was soft and reassuring.

I wasn't mad. But it was a question of whether or not I could handle it. For my delicate security issues and desire to be around him, four weeks apart is a lot to consume; I knew there was no way I wouldn't notice his absence. And while I can support him and accept it, I don't have to love that he'll be gone. And I don't have to want to talk about it.

Thanksgiving Eve we went out to Perkin's for a quick dinner. We sat across from one another in a plastic booth, the cheap overhead lighting magnifying the flaws in my skin, his tired eyes. I was starving, slurping my complimentary water while we waited for our meals. The waitress finally placed our food before us, hunger forcing us into silence as we freed our silverware from their napkin cocoons and started into our meals.

With his spoon neck-deep in his cup of soup, Billy broke the quiet and said, "So I was checking on airfare today for my trip. It's outrageous."

My appetite vanished. It felt like my stomach had shriveled into a tiny nugget and was trying to crawl up my esophagus. I dug through my eggs benedict with my fork. "Oh."

"I'm not sure where I'm going yet, though. I'm thinking South Africa. Or maybe the Maldives."

Shut up shut up shut up, I thought. My whole body felt the same way it does when you have the flu. The skin all along my back and neck and arms felt prickly. "Interesting," I said, trying to stay involved, checking my initial reaction to throw up. I didn't want him to think I was mad. But I didn't want to talk about it. At all.

"What do you think?" he said, looking at me.

"I don't know, babe," I shrugged, staying noncommittal.

"What do you think," he said again, setting down his spoon, "about coming with me for a week?"

I looked up from my dinner and into his face, in disbelief.

"Now, I want you to know," he warned, "that you won't be able to wear your heels or makeup. This is a backpacking trip. But I'd like you to come with me, if you think you can do that: You know, survive without makeup and hair products for a week." He offered me a smile.

I laughed. I didn't know what to say.

The point is, it doesn't matter whether I go or not. The point is, he asked. Whether he really wants me to go, or just knew I'd bow out at the threat of no high heels, he asked. He asked me to accomany him for at least one leg of a trip he takes every year, alone. And there's something about that that touches me so deep...I was, and am, beyond words.

We've only talked about it a handful of times since then. The trip was supposed to be taken this month, but work has kept him around against his will. But, any given day, he could come home and say "I'm leaving for _________ in five days!" It'll be at that point, I suppose, that we'll once again, breach the subject of my travel time with him.

And even if I do decide to stuff a backpack full of cigarettes and contraband makeup and go, the problem of other three weeks remains. They terrify me. Whenever he brings up the fact that he still hasn't decided on a locale, I tell him I don't want to talk about it. I tell him that I don't want to think about his vacation until I have to. Because it kills me.

But I want him to go, I do. I know how important it is to him, and how much he loves it; All I want is for him to be happy. But insecurity rears her ugly head and I'm consumed by questions. What if distance doesn't make the heart grow fonder? What if he doesn't want to come back? Or, what if he comes back and everything's different?

Strangely enough, I don't worry that he'll cheat, or meet somebody better. What I worry about is that we'll lose something - something intangible, but important - in all that time. As though we must be around each other every possible second to maintain this unbelievable connection. Sometimes I wonder if I depend on our proximity to keep him reeled in. If he's in Africa, how will I prove what a catch I am with morning coffee and folded laundry and a good laugh? How will he remember the blue of my eyes? Will he think of me? Will he miss me? Will I miss him more? If I can't remind him how much I mean to him with my actions, how will he remember?

Perhaps I need to remind myself that he didn't tell me he loves me because I fix his coffee, because his shirts are folded. Sure, those are nice little benefits, but they don't make up who I am.

But still, how, after waking up to him every day for the last six months, will I be able to go for three weeks without even seeing him?

I don't worry that another woman will creep in and get him. I worry that freedom will. It's not an issue of his fidelity, his ability to remain faithful; It's an issue of my own insecurities. That, no matter how much he loves me now, he'll fly to some foreign country and remember what it was like to just travel, to be solitary, to move around at will, and just be. And, suddenly, I won't be enough - or maybe I'll be too much. I worry that his trip will make him happier than I ever could. And, as silly and irrational as that is, it scares me.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Last Night

Time I got home from work: Five O'Clock

Loads of laundry done: One half (which means the whites were washed, but not necessarily dried.)

Hefty bags used to hold all of the garbage I emptied from my car in preparation for Billy taking it today: One whole bag

Number of winter coats removed from the backseat of my car: Three

Number of empty cigarette packs found on the floor of my car: I don't know...maybe a million

Number of meetings I have to listen to on tape, and subsequently type the minutes of, for my very-much-neglected second job as secretary for a local township: Ten

Average length of a meeting: Forty-five minutes

Average number of pages I have to type to transcribe each meeting: Two

Date they should have been done: Oh, AUGUST. Of 2005. But that's flexible.

Last possible date all ten meeting minutes must be delivered to my second employer: Thursday, February 9, 2006

Number of meeting minutes I actually finished last night: Seven

Hour I always wait until to finish any project: Eleventh

Time Billy got home from work: 9:30

Layers of clothing Billy donned to go outside and check out my car: At least three

Pieces of sushi I ate while Billy tinkered with Gwen the 4Runner: Eight

Billy's diagnosis for Gwen's faulty starting: It's not the starter, it's a sensor on the clutch.

Could he fix it, though?: Yes

Items he used to fix my bum clutch: A flashlight, electrical tape, a discarded button from a coat

Number of tries it took to start the car following his solution: Only one. Just like new.

Amount I'll have to spend to fix my car now, thanks to Billy: $0.00

How I plan to repay Billy for fixing my car, saving me both money and a trip to the mechanic: [Censored], multiple times. (C'mon, I can't put the details in here...My parents may read it.)

Times I thought "I'll be lucky enough to meet a man who is smart, funny, incredibly sexy and good looking, who will love me just as much as I love him, and who will love and care enough about me to take care of me in all the right ways, without being overbearing or possessive; A man I trust and miss all the time, who I can't wait to see at the end of the day; A man who will make me laugh and make me delirious with happiness, who lets me be exactly who I am, and whom I will love because of exactly who he is; A man who will make me feel safe and cared for and loved, who I will love in ways I never even thought possible before.": Never

Monday, February 06, 2006

Oh, Happy Day

The sarcasm of that title doesn't quite come out in the written word, does it?

This, so far, has been my Monday morning:

Wake up. Late. Again.

Hurry through shower with Billy. We're both late, and vying for the water.

After finishing my shower, making coffee, putting my face on and getting dressed, I run outside to start my car.

It doesn't start.

I fear that my car, as much as I love her, may drive me crazy with all of her issues of late.

I storm back into house, throw keys on the table and ask Billy's cousin for his girlfriend's keys, since she has taken a different car for the day and her Hyundai is sitting outside, unused. (I may never have explained before that Billy owns a house with his cousin, James. James's girlfriend, Kelly, lives there, too.)

James gets off the phone with Kelly to report, sadly, that she accidentally took the keys to that car with her. And there isn't an extra one in the house.

I try not to cry.

James and Billy, on their way out the door to work (they work together), take a look at my car before they leave. They decide it is my starter. I feel guilty for perhaps making them late and insist that they go; I'll work something out. Billy tells me to pop my clutch and gets in front of my car to push it, backwards, down the driveway.

I'm sort of scared to pop my clutch going backwards; I have to make sure to avoid the rock wall alongside the driveway AND the two other cars parked there. Plus, I'm not sure how quickly or slowly to let the clutch out. So it doesn't work.

I stand outside in the cold and, like an idiot, watch helplessly as Billy hops in my driver's seat and James pushes the car backwards down the driveway. Of course, it works when Billy does it.

Thank Billy and James over and over again, then apologize profusely for taking their time, while they hurry into their shared car for the day to get to work.

Go back inside to do my hair only to realize that I am late and have no time to do it. So I get my coat and purse and coffee and head to my (thankfully) running car. With wet hair.

It is below freezing outside.

After driving for ten minutes, I realize that I have only four minutes left to get to work on time...And another ten minutes worth of a drive left. I thank God for the sunny day and, therefore, the ability to speed. Although it is freezing cold out, the sun is shining. I put on my sunglasses.

But I spoke too sun. I run into a complete white-out. The sun has disappeared and been replaced with a ridiculous amount of snow pouring from the heavens. It is snowing so hard, I almost don't see a giant dump truck driving all of 15 miles per hour on the road ahead of me. You can't slam on your brakes in the snow, so I sigh with relief that I saw the guy early enough to downshift my way to 15mph.

I try not to cry. Again.

I have roughly five miles left until I pull into work. It takes me well over fifteen minutes to drive that five miles, because I had to follow the dumptruck in the whiteout. So, after driving 15 mph in the thick snow, I finally make it to work. Obviously, I am late. Very Late. I get out of my car and nearly fall on my face in my weather-inappropriate shoes.

Walk into the office to find a coworker at my desk, loading a program on my computer and talking on the phone. Drop my purse on the desk and curse under my breath at the fact that I am once again without a desk.

Fight the urge to scream each time someone stands behind me to use my phone, go into one of my drawers. Also, fight the urge to break something when I come to my desk twice to find Lisa sitting in it.

I ask Lisa how to enter something into the computer, and rather than tell me how, she sits in my vacant chair to let me watch her.

I try not to cry; Only this time, the tears would be out of annoyance that I'm never going to learn anything if people continue to not teach me how to do anything besides answer the phone and pay the bills. I'm starting to feel stagnant and useless.

My hair, which has finally dried, is flat and clinging to my head for dear life. It has no volume, no body. It just lays there, mocking me. This upsets me.

I try to make small talk with my coworkers to distract myself from my mounting frustration. I tell them the story of how I cut off all of Billy's hair on Saturday night. I tell them how his mane of longish curly locks was all over the bathroom floor when I was finally done with the cut, and that he now has roughly an inch of hair on his head. This is a huge deal for me for a number of reasons. One, I cut it. I've never cut any hair besides the plastic "hair" on my Barbies' heads when I was five. Two, I absolutely love it. Although I loved his long curly locks, he looks even sexier now. I wasn't sure it was possible for Billy to look any sexier than he already does. So this is big news for me.

No one cares, or bothers to acknowledge my story beyond a disinterested "Oh yeah?"

My freshly-shorn Billy calls to discuss my car issues. He tells me to park it facing out so that if I have to pop the clutch again, it'll be easier going forward than trying to do it in reverse. He tells me to start it often to keep the motor warm (it seems to start when it's warm). He tells me we'll get it fixed, not to worry. I feel instantly better knowing that he's there for me and willing to help. I hang up the phone and say out loud "I love that man." Again, no one acknowledges me. To make myself feel better (and less like a social pariah at work) I remind myself that my statement didn't warrant a reaction.

I write myself, and everyone else in the office, paychecks. This makes me happy.

Shortly after my check is written and deposited, a generous chunk of that paycheck is transferred out of my account to my savings (for my February bills) and to my car loan. I think of how much more of my paycheck will be gone after I replace my starter. The happiness of only moments before vanishes.

Billy calls with good news: He knows someone who used to work for Toyota and may be able to fix Gwen for me. He'll take my car tomorrow and leave me one to drive. I smile, thinking that I may have the best boyfriend ever.

I realize that this means I must clean out my car so that he and James will actually be able to sit in tomorrow to drive to work. This is bound to take up a large chunk of my evening. Yes, Gwen is that messy. But, looking at the silver lining, I realize that this needs to be done anyway. I continue to smile, due to the awesomeness of my boyfriend.

I answer the phone at 12:08 by saying "Good morning..." and the snotty customer on the other end of the line chastises me for not realizing that, clearly, it is after noon now. I check my urge to throw the phone at someone or something, to kill two birds with one stone.

It's one o'clock now. Obviously, I'm already ready for this day to end.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Child's Play

It is one of the greatest mysteries of my time. I have tried and tried to solve it, but the answer still eludes me: Why, oh why, do people stick me with their kids?

At work on Tuesday, a friend of the boss came in with his three year old son. As my boss, his sister, Lisa, and the friend spoke, I heard the friend say "Go talk to Laurie."


Good - and outgoing - little boy that he was, he came right over to me. And I, the twenty-five-year-old-girl-with-little-to-no-experience-with-children, was forced to make conversation. With a three-year-old. So we talked about dinosaurs, naturally. And his new toy truck. And I asked him how old he was and if he went to school (I don't know when kids start school) and he told me how strong he is and how he lifts heavy boxes all the time.

He was very cute, I'll give him that. And not at all annoying. It was about the time, however, that he decided to demonstrate the speed with which he can run, that I started to lose the gumption required to undertake this particular task at hand.

I find it hard to relate to kids. Of any age. I know I always hated being spoken to like a child, so I tend to speak to children the same way I would speak to an adult. And I feel like an idiot. Because, clearly, a three-year-old is not an adult. And I don't know what kids like to do. I don't know what they enjoy, what their interests are. I have to watch my language, for both obscenities and big words.

But I get through it. I seem interested, and I ooh and aaawww at the appropriate points. I usually punctuate a conversation with the wee one with a "S/He's so cute" to the parent. And, for that, I think the parents think I enjoy the kids.

But I don't.

When I worked at the bank, I had a particular customer who would burst through the door with her two awful grandchildren and instantly instruct: "Go see Laurie!" And the little monsters would run over to my desk, try to open my drawers, try to tell me about their days...And it drove me nuts. I had work to do. I had things that I could be accomplishing beyond babysitting. But, obviously, somewhere along the line, I gave the impression that I liked to have them crawling all over me and offering me the remnants of their half-chewed lollipops.

Don't get me wrong, there are kids out there that I love (Okay, ONE kid out there that I love: Adrian, my Godson). And I know that there are women out there who love other people's kids. But I'm not one of those women. I don't even like other people's dogs.

I'm starting to wonder if I was born without the maternal instinct.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fit for a King

We have a new mattress! It's a King Size Kingsdown mattress; Plush and without the body-shaped valley in the middle.

It comes today.

The search for this mattress has been long and trying. The born negotiator that Billy is, he refuses to accept the retail cost of anything. Many of our shopping excursions include the phrase "Can you do any better on that?" This phrase always falls from his lips, not mine. And, you know what? They usually can do better.

He got the mattress at a price that can only be described as obscenely low when compared to the original price. I thought he was crazy, going from one mattress store to another trying for the best deal. But, as it turns out, he was right. He actually got the damn thing at the price he wanted to pay for it.

And, tonight, we will be sleeping on our brand new mattress. Which means we will also be on brand-new sheets, and we will not have to claw our way out of the canyon in the center of the bed.

I'm so excited!