Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It's Pronounced "Fooooooking"

"Brits driving Austrians bonkers over rude village name"

I can't believe I've never heard of this place before. I lead a sheltered life.

Only one kind of crimimal ever stalks the sleepy 32-house village near Salzburg on the German border -- cheeky British tourists armed with a sense of humour and a screwdriver.

Well, can you blame them? I mean, when I was in high school, it was a favorite pastime of my... well, I guess you could call them a clique... my clique to steal Taco Bell signs and such. For no good reason. Just 'cause.

But, then, we were kids. In a boring midwestern town with nothing to do and a lot of free time.

Local guide Andreas Behmueller said it was only the British that had a fixation with F---ing.

What cracks me up is the obvious fun the reporter is having with writing this story.

Guesthouse boss Augustina Lindlbauer described the village's breathtaking lakes, forests and vistas.

"Yet still there is this obsession with F---ing," she said.

"Just this morning I had to tell an English lady who stopped by that there were no F---ing postcards."

Yes, it's true. Snopes has the scoop, and what is arguably the best pic of all:

Bitte - nicht so schnell! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 28, 2005

New Life, New Love, New Moisturizer, New Me

My favorite moisturizer - indeed, the ONLY moisturizer I have ever loved - was Nina Ricci's Le Tiente Ricci Extrait de Jeunesse. Nina discontinued her beauty product line a few years ago, and I was devastated. CRUSHED, I tell you.

I have oily skin. Well into my 30's, I break out like a 13-year old. Always have. I never use moisturizers unless it's the dead of winter, and then only on my cheeks. The only reason I even tried Nina Ricci's stuff is that, one day, while wandering through Sak's Fifth Avenue, I wanted a makeover, and the Chanel counter was snobby.

It was the spring of 1996. Kristin was getting married in a few months. She had asked me to be a bridesmaid, and to sing at her wedding. I was depressed.

Kristin's older brother was the love of my life. We dated on and off for five, long, frustrating years. I was a lousy girlfriend, and he wasn't the best of boyfriends, but I was desperately in love with that short, blonde, blue eyed idiot. Kristin was there the night we met, at a New Year's Eve party. The guy had nowhere else to go on New Year's eve, so his little sister let him tag along to our party at Lisa's place. I was there with another guy. Kristin was in her usual star-studded party mode, but her brother was slopping drunk by the time I arrived, and, well, had no inhibitions. Little did I know how unusual that was for him.

Five years later, when we finally broke up for good, everything inside me shattered. (blah, blah, sad breakup story, get to the Nina Ricci part.) I moved to New York, went through the performing arts academy, got a new boyfriend. Whole New Life.

Kristin asked me to be in her wedding, scheduled for October of 1996. I knew her brother would be there. It would be the first time in over a year that we had seen each other - the first time since the breakup. I knew I was going to feel something.

I was terrified. I knew I was still in love with him. I'd been dating anther guy, and I was still aching for the emotionally stunted short blonde underachiever from Springfield. I cried a lot, working through conflicting emotions. I called Lisa and cried on her shoulder. "I'm scared of how I'm going to feel when I see him, and I'm scared of how I'm going to react." Lisa listened sympathetically. "Just do your best, Didi. We'll be there for you."

About a week or so before the wedding, there came a day when I had nothing to do. Peter had punched up my red hair a few days prior. I had my gorgeous, tailored Oleg Cassini bridesmaid's gown and the matching strappy spike-heeled sandals ready to go. I knew the song I was to sing, and I'd been a bridesmaid before, so I wasn't concerned about myself in an official capacity. I was looking forward to seeing my girlfriends, and my family and their families. I was trying to be calm about the prospect of facing HIM.

I was also, however, feeling more than a little lonely. The guy I'd been dating for the last year was flaking out on me. Glamgal was in her first year at the Actor's Studio and usually too busy to hang out. The other few friends I'd made at the academy had left New York. So for that day, I was on my own.

I busted out of my tiny apartment. I jittered down the sidewalks. I clenched and unclenced my jaw so often, I remember my face hurt that day. I was fidgety, physically and mentally. My mind kept playing possible scenarios over and over like CNN newsreels of things that haven't happened yet. I worked myself into a frenzy of worry. I sweated in the unseasonbly hot late September sun.

I had done everything I could think of to make myself feel like a force to be reckoned with. I needed to feel that way, facing the worst rejection of my life. I wanted to show that I was more than ok - I was skyrocketing into an exciting future. I needed to look gorgeous. I needed to show everyone - no, I needed to show HIM - that I was more than ok without him. I was better off.


So here I am on that day, fresh out of Performing Arts school, underweight, underfed, nearly broke, in a long thin flowery skirt and a tank top, no makeup, no jewely, my hair in a bad-hair-day braid, feeling terrified that the real me might - just might - show through my disguise when I have to do the wedding.

Suddenly I felt like having a makeover. I'd never had one before. New makeup! And I would invest in nice makeup, not drugstore stuff. I had a credit card. I walked all the way from Ninety-Fifth Street and Columbus over to Saks Fifth Avenue. I remember I got there in surprisingly little time.

I walked in the doors and aimed myself at the cosmetics counters, an archipelago of eyeshadow palettes in a sea of women with lacquered nails and designer clothes. It was a weekday. I was surrounded by people who didn't have to work for a living. I looked down at my thrift-shop outfit. Fuck them all, I thought to myself, I've got Visa.

As I approached, a tall, handsome, blonde young man, very thin, with blue eyes and a McDonald's smile brayed "How are you doing today!" at me.

I just looked at him. God, he was cute. God, he was gay. "Fine, thanks," I quipped.

He made a sad face. "You look like you've had a long day."

"I've had better ones," I growled.

"Are you here for a makeover?" I nodded. "Oh, it's just the thing! Lancome is having a special now on all their skin care products. This is their new fragrance." He brandished his atomizer like Vanna White displaying a vowel.

I took a slight step back "Actually, I'm not really good with perfume. I'm allergic to most scents."

"Oh, my sister is the same way." He looked closer at my face. "Are you a singer?"

Really! "Why yes, I do sing, but I'm not famous," I answered, flutting my eyes and blushing slightly. "Not yet anyway."

"Oh, I could tell by your voice. You have a beautiful voice!"

*swoon* "Thank you," I said. His teeth were so white my eyes hurt. "I think I'll go get that makeover."

"I promise, it'll make you feel better!" the pretty little bird chirped. I gave him a smile over my shoulder as I disappeared into the crowd.

I cruised by the Lancome counter, but they were mobbed. Must be some special. I tried Chanel, but they were so snobby I couldn't tolerate them. They looked down their noses at me while they informed me that a minimum $100 purchase was required with a makeover. All their customers were older women who exuded wealth. I walked away.

I considered Clinique - too boring. Shiseido? Too exotic, and likely overpriced.

"Can I help you with anything?" a voice sang out.

I looked over, and it was coming from the Nina Ricci counter. A perky twenty-something blonde with brunette roots and way too dark lipliner beckoned me over. Their counter wasn't completely empty, but it wasn't mobbed either.

"Actually, I'd like to get a makeover." I leaned on her counter a bit, feeling tired.

The gal laid her hand gently on my shoulder. "Let us help you with that. George?" An older man seemed to materialize from out of nowhere. "This young lady needs a makeover."

"This beautiful girl?" George said. "She doesn't need anything but a smile."

Oh, now this is what I need, I thought to myself, smiling obligingly. The older man looked at me. He cupped my chin and squinted at me like I was in a petrie dish. "It's warm out there, isn't it?" he asked me.

"Yeah," I sighed. "Pretty hot."

"I have something that will cool you off."

He clearly enjoyed working on my face. He used an astringent cleanser that did indeed cool me off very quickly. "Your brow is wrinkling," he murmured. "What's on your mind?"

"I've just had a really long week," I confided. "My best friend is getting married, and I'm in the wedding.

"Oh, we have a wedding to prepare for!" He announced to the entire world. The gal at the counter beamed. "Perfect time for a makeover!" she affirmed.

"How old is your friend?" George asked.

"Twenty-five," I responded. George lifted his eyebrows at me. "I'm twenty-four." I heard the girl behind the counter say awww.

"And where is the wedding?"

"Chicago," I sighed.

"Oh," George clucked. "Is that where you grew up?"

We chatted about my friend's wedding. I said nothing about the real source of my visible angst, but I think everyone could tell I was hiding something.

While George was smoothing a moisturizer on my face, I breathed in a zing of citrus, and felt something lifting off of me, like shrugging off a heavy coat. "That smells incredible," I said. What is that?"

It was Extrait de Jeunesse Moisturizer. It was a peach-colored, cloudy gel. It was impossibly light and not the least bit oily.

My skin didn't feel a thing as it absorbed in, no heaviness, no stickiness, nothing I usually got from moisturizers. I touched my cheek, and it was soft as 300-thread count cotton. I'd never felt anything like it before. It came in a pretty little jar with a pump, and only a drop dispensed at a time, on the tip of my finger. Two drops were plenty to quench the thirst in my skin.

Two drops were enough to quell my nerves with a tropical sniff. Two drops of calm. Two drops of spoiling myself. Two drops of something you could never buy in the midwest. I later discovered that Le Teinte Ricci was not available in Chicago.

I bought a jar of it that day, in addition to some eyeliner in two colors, some under-eye concealer, and some pale-as-a-ghost foundation, which made my face glow like porcelain. I felt gorgeous. I felt well-prepared. I felt... like maybe I really was just fine without that boy.

In addition to my purchases, George and his Counter Girl threw in all sorts of free makeup samples. They gave me a discount too, for no apparent reason. They hugged me goodbye. I clutched my little bag of treasures, thanked them for a lovely day, and floated toward the exit.

I passed the Perfume boy again. "Oh, you look beautiful!" he sang. "I knew a makeover would cheer you up!"

"Yes," I said to him, "You were right."

"Oh... but it's not Lancome," he remarked sadly, pointing to my bag.

"I'm sorry," I said, "I just went to the first counter that wasn't Chanel."

He laughed. "Aren't they awful!" He whispered conspiratorially. "You look wonderful. Is there someplace you're going?"

"My best friend's wedding in Chicago," I replied. "It's next week. I'm a bridesmaid and I'm singing in the ceremony."

The boy pressed his hands together and squealed. "Oooh, what are you singing?"

"One Hand, One Heart from West Side Story," I admitted. He looked confused. "They're pretty traditional out there in the midwest."

"Oh," he said, rolling his eyes. "I'm sure you'll sound beautiful!" He gushed.

"Thanks," I giggled

He stuck his hand out. "My name's Brian. What's yours, in case I see your album at HMV someday?"

I shook his hand. "It's Ouiser," I said. "It's nice to meet you. Thanks for the conversation."

"It's been nice talking to you," he said, pumping my hand. "And have a great time at the wedding. Do you have a date?"

"No," I said, leaning in, "But neither does my ex-boyfriend." I allowed a giggle to escape my lips.

"Oh, you are going to make him one sorry man!" Brian crowed.

"I hope so," I said, a warm glow filling me from top to toes. "Thanks."

I walked out into the glare of a late summer sun, feeling ready for anything.

The wedding was beautiful. HE was there, and it was as difficult as I had feared. I handled it by not speaking one word to him, or even looking in his direction for the entire two-day affair. It wasn't the best strategy... I felt him there. At times, I felt him looking at me. Once, I caught his eye, and he waved at me. He appeared to think we might be able to talk, say hello. I quickly looked away.

I made it through the ceremony. I sang ok. I was paired up with a smart-assed groomsman, which I appreciated, for his humour. As we were recessing out of the church, the emotional release of the close of the wedding seemed to release my own self-control, and the tears began flowing. I sobbed as my groomsman led me out of the church. Unfortunately, everyone noticed.

As we entered the anteroom behind the chapel, the entire wedding party (including HIM) was looking at me. "Are you ok?" asked Kristin's Mom.

I stood on one foot and grimaced. "It's the SHOOOOOOEES," I wailed. Everybody cracked up laughing. I laughed too, and my tears subsided.

My parents were proud of me for doing it. I felt good about it. And I never used another moisturizer again.

When I finally ran out of Extrait de Jeunesse - almost two years later - I went back to Saks to buy another jar. I couldn't find the Nina Ricci counter anywhere.

I asked the information desk. "I'm sorry," the latin boy with the beauty mark said, "We don't carry Le Teinte Ricci anymore."

My heart stopped. "You're kidding," I said.

"No, we just stopped carrying it a few months ago."

My head reeled. The only other places in the United States that sold Le Teinte Ricci were Dallas and Los Angeles. I just stared at the guy.

"Sorry..." he repeated.

When I got home, I went online and searched for any information I could find about Nina Ricci cosmetics. I learned that Nina Ricci had discontinued the entire product line. My heart sank.

Years later, when my Grandmother's health was declining rapidly, and she was living with my parents, my Mom and I went shopping for Christmas presents for her. Mom bought her some Lancome Bien Fait moisturizer for about sixty bucks. I had to admit that it was lovely, but I didn't buy it for myself. Eventually I bought some Neutrogena Oil-Free SPF15 moisturizer, which is a very similar formula to the Lancome, but I was never in love with it like I had been with L'Extrait de Jeunesse. Nothing had that amazing, uplifting, energizing-and-soothing-at-the-same-time scent. It feels good on my face and doesn't clog my pores, but it's a less than thrilling experience.

Friday night, for my birthday, this Beauty Queen gave me some of this:

Origins "A Perfect World" White Tea Skin Guardian Posted by Picasa

This morning, after my shower, I smoothed some of it on my cheeks. It's a pale white cloudy gel with a peachy tint.

The smell hit me instantly. Orange. Then florals - mimosa and bergamot. Lusciousness beyond compare. I actually sighed as I smoothed it over my cheeks this morning, much to my boyfriend's amusement. It took strength to resist the urge to use more than two tiny drops on my face... and two drops, again, is all it takes. My spirits lifted and I laughed. "This is AMAZING," I said out loud.

I don't feel ten years older than I was when I discovered Nina Ricci. I don't think I look ten years older either. But I am ten years wiser. And after ten years, the specter of HIM is long gone. I don't cry over tight shoes or men who don't appreciate me anymore. I have a new love now that is better than anything I could have imagined back then. And now I have a new happy-smelling moisturizer too, given to me by a new friend.

Comment admirablement s'approprier.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What I Learned In My 33rd Year

Or maybe, "What Sank In During My Blow-Out."

I've been having trouble finding a salon that is close to me, that I like the look of, and that has hours that work with my schedule. A month or so ago, I found a small place in downtown Nyack that looked promising. They use all Aveda products, they have a nice brick-walled interior with Jane Magazines to peruse, and are a nice walk from my place. So I made an appointment to have a blow-out this morning.

The blowout is lovely, but those people didn't speak a word to me. I sat in silence while I was washed and yanked. My appointment was for 10:30 AM, and the stylist, the shampoo girl and the receptionist were ordering breakfast. And I was SO in the mood for Queen Latifah! I have a birthday tomorrow and a night in the city to look forward to! Where's the anticipatory banter?

Well, I was the only customer in the place. "Is it always this quiet on weekdays?" I asked.

"I'm the only one that's willing to work this early," my stylist replied. 10:30? I thought. The silence settled in again.

When he was almost done blowing my hair out, the stylist wrinkled his nose and said "When's the last time you had a haircut?" I wracked my brain, and came up with July 4th weekend. "I had eighteen inches chopped off back then," I opened.

"You need a cut," the stylist replied. Then back to the silence.

I guess you're not interested in giving me one? I thought to myself. I made a couple of other lame attempts at conversation. I told a funny story about a previous stylist that I thought might make this guy feel superior. (Male stylists seem to like that.) Nothing.

Very quickly, I was done, and the stylist just walked away from my chair without a word. "It's perfect, thanks," I called. He said something under his breath that might have been a "you're welcome," but I wasn't sure.

When I approached the receptionist with my debit card in hand, she informed me rather apologetically that they only take cash or checks. In this she-she place? "It's ok, lots of people don't know that," the gal soothed. "There's a bank right across the street with an ATM."

I ventured to the ATM, came back and paid the bill, leaving a $10 tip to be shared between two people for a $30 style. "You don't need to make another appointment right now?" the gal asked. "Not right now," I replied.

Probably the most unsatisfying salon experience I've ever had. What a couple of snobs.

So I walked down Main street towards home, and my eyes strayed to the little nail salon I've walked past a hundred times. I made a snap decision to spend the remainder of my cash on getting a manicure. I'm going out in Manhattan tomorrow night, I should really get my hands pretty. And manicurists are always chatty! As I approached the door, I noticed the salon had a deal - $23 for a manicure/pedicure. Great, I have $30 left! It's my birthday! Get the pedi too! I walked in, asked for the mani/pedi, settled into the bubbling footbowl, and relaxed.

My pedicurist was as chatty as my stylist. I was crushed, but English was not her language, so I couldn't blame her. She was at least very sweet and gentle, and wordlessly, genuinely concerned about my comfort. Maybe the manicure lady will talk to me, I thought.

About halfway through the pedicure, I noticed a sign on the wall that said "Manicure/Pedicure Special Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Today is Thursday.

I turned to the manicurist sitting in the nearest chair. "How much is a mani/pedi on THURSDAYS?"

"Twenty-eight," she said.

"You're kidding."

"Is Twenty-eight dolla."

I made a face.

"You want manicure/pedicure, right?"

"No, I'll just finish the pedicure now. I don't have the cash without the special." especially since I know you AND this pedi gal expect more than a one dollar tip apiece.

I fidgeted. If I had known, I would have opted for the mani. Nobody's going to see my damn feet this weekend.

So here I am, with a lovely blowout and a beautiful pedicure, with ratty fingers and a feeling of emptiness inside.

The truth is, a girl doesn't go always go for beauty treatments because she wants to look prettier. A girl goes to a salon for the conversation. For the gossip, to help her forget her own worries for awhile. For the cameraderie. For something that feels like friendship. For something to take the place of friendship, when your friends aren't around.

While my toes were drying, I called my Mom. We talked about the second mortgage on their house, and some other awful money issues that I am powerless to affect. We talked about how Daddy is silent and uncommunicative when it comes to talking about finances. We talked about how awful it's going to be for me when they die and how it will kill me if I have to sell the house I grew up in. We talked about how that house was my safety net, if I should lose everything, and how it's pretty much gone now.

"Try not to worry about us. Have a good birthday," she said.

I left the salon, walked down Main street, and turned onto the street where I live. Several large machines and a collection of larger men were re-paving the road in front of our apartment building. I started jumping up and down, cheering. "IT'S ABOUT TIME!" I screamed, pumping my arms like a cheerleader. "WHOOOO, YEAH!" I clapped and bounced down the sidewalk.

The men all started clapping and cheering as well. It was like a Yankee home run, right there on the street. "THANK YOU!" I shouted, "THANK YOU!"

I guess I made their day. It's not those guys' fault that our road has been shit for two years. It's not their fault that, about two months ago, after they jackhammered the road surface off, leaving the two-inch-deep recessed, rumbly sub-surface exposed, that the order wasn't given to finish the job. They're just driving the machines and laying down the asphalt. Rolling it smooth. Warning me not to step in it while it's hot. They're finally getting done what some city bureaucrat didn't care enough about to push through until now. Yeah, I was glad to see them. I channelled my frustration into exuberance. I funnelled my lonliness and need for companionship into a genuine delight at seeing these hard working men doing something that benefits me directly. And they appreciated it.

They say that when you are feeling needy, you should give to someone. Maybe that's what I was doing. I don't know when I learned this trick. I also don't know exactly when I started to resent it.

My piano friend that I used to date said something to me once about how it's not ok that my needs are so seldom met. I shot back that I don't need much. He said that may be true when it comes to things - a new outfit, an invitation to a high-profile party, a prom date - but that when it comes to personal connections, I was kidding myself. It took me two years to figure out what he meant.

The need today was not for a hairstyle - it was for someone to talk to. On Valentine's Day, I don't need a fancy expensive dinner and wild sex - I need a heartfelt, simple affirmation that the love in my life is real, and will last. And tomorrow, for my birthday, I don't need to be made a fuss over. All I really want is to be surrounded by friends, in a good mood, enjoying ourselves and each other, and to be reminded that it's good to be alive, that it was good to be born.

Well, a little fuss is nice.

No, seriously: isn't this really what life is really all about? I mean, why are we glad we were born? We joke about it all the time: that silk dress makes you glad you were born, that sweet chocolate dessert makes you glad you were born. Yes, these things are sensual delights. But at the end of the day, what do we value most? Friends. Family. People. Knowing we are cared about. Knowing we are loved.

Tuna mentions in her post about love that we choose our family, and we bond ourselves to them. I guess for me, being born into a family of around 400 people, spending holidays with gatherings of 20 or 30 cousins, I never really got that concept until this year, when I am grown, and my Grandmothers have passed, and I find myself dreading family gatherings even while I'm picking out a new dress. I didn't choose my cousins, and if I could choose them, only a very few would remain. And those few... most of them have not chosen me.

I myself have changed so drastically over the years that my oldest friendships are now being tested, re-evaluated. I realize that I must choose my friends again... or choose to let them go. Two of my older friends are very much on probation right now, which sounds judgemental, but really it's very sad.

Today I set out into my little town looking for conversation, some laughs... maybe, a new friend. I was disappointed. But, I'll keep trying. A few years ago a day like today would have left me crying on the couch, headed for the bar later on in way too much makeup, drowning my bitterness in people who don't give a damn about me and screaming my frustrations into a microphone while the guy on guitar wonders exactly how much I stuffed in the tip jar. But not today.

Today, instead, I'm going to make salad dressing, watch some Star Trek reruns, and give myself a manicure. Then I'll have a spinach salad with G, watch some TV, enjoy the company of a man who has chosen me, and fall asleep in his arms, feeling lucky, liking my hair, and knowing that tomorrow, I'll go to work at a job I love, and meet some friends that I chose, who also chose me, to celebrate being alive.

And some damn good mojitos and fried plantains will surely enhance the mood.

After that, I'm going to keep partying. If anyone wants to come bar-hopping after dinner, come to Azucar at about 9:30. It's gonna be a night to make you glad you were born.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More Birthday Goodness

The morning was grey, light and soft as a newborn, and I languished awhile, watching the misty rain blow against the screens outside my windows, the doves splashing in puddles of water collecting on the eaves. There was nothing to do that day, and the rain provided the perfect excuse to loaf about the house. I made almond tea and sipped it on the divan, my legs tucked under an afghan of blue softness, channel-surfing with the sound off, letting the gentle rain provide a soundtrack to moving pictures of famous faces in exotic locales.

It was in this relaxed state that I noticed the box on the table. it announced passively. It seemed to tease me, sitting quietly in the background, knowing I'd notice it eventually, content to wait until my curiosity overcame me, and I padded over on bare feet to inspect the address label.

To MzOuiser, it invited. My lazy mind processed the presence of the box, it's address label, and the day and date. I have a birthday coming in a few days, I thought to myself. This must be a present for me!

It took some restraint to place my teacup delicately on the desk, but once I had done so, I abandoned all notions of propriety and ladylike manner. I proceeded to jab savagely at the box with a large pair of scissors, stabbing and slicing viciously, like a peasant woman disemboweling a rabbit for the stew. Excitement and wonder grew inside me. What it could be, and who had sent it?

My deductions were confirmed: Within the box lay two small rectangular packages wrapped in apple-green paper that reflected the light like a newly-plucked fruit. A satin ribbon of the same hue was bound about the packages, and the effect was overall quite lovely, evoking springtime and sweetness and the fresh smells of an orchard. I inhaled deeply, thinking of my mother's pies, and clasped the packages to my breast.

Upon removal of the pretty green dressings, the contents revealed themselves to me: First to meet the light was a DVD of "The Callas Conversations," recordings of the 1968 interviews of Maria Callas with Lord Harewood. It includes recordings of several arias by Massenet, Bellini and Puccini. Ms. Callas's sly smile graces the cover, her eyes heavily lined, her brows slightly raised with an unasked question. I squealed with deight, remembering a snippet I had once heard of these interviews on the radio, where Ms. Callas had sung O Mio Babbino Caro with such innocence and grace that I had wept softly in my cubicle at work. I thought of the lush recordings I was now about to hear from Manon and La Sonnambula, that, indeed, I could now hear whenever I so desired, and squealed again in childish glee.

The second package contained a DVD of Pride and Prejudice starring none other than Colin Firth, that lovely Englishman who romanced Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jone's Diary, playing a role that I remain convinced to this day is merely a modern interpretation of that scintillating Mr. Darcy in Ms. Austen's novel. I had been longing to see the real thing ever since. I deftly removed the shrink wrap and let my fingers glide over the image on the DVD, remembering the scenes in the book I had loved so well as a young girl, the dashing and dour Mr. Darcy brought to his emotional knees by love for a woman younger than himself yet wiser in the ways of goodness, and able to see through the snobbery which imprisoned him, and so many of that time and place. Ah, the betterment of man through the love of a smart woman. Ah, the fantasy of a rainy day and an excellent cup of almond tea.

I spent that evening listening to the lilt of English voices, laughing women and boasting men, and gazing upon the rosy cheeks and rakish curls of Mr. Firth, dreaming of wearing high-waisted gowns and elaborate up-dos while dancing with a man who feigns disdain while he suffers for love of me. My cat curled into the crook of my knee and purred, and as the rain stopped, the setting sun gently glowed on the moist horizon, and I drifted off to sleep with Mr. Darcy's words in my ear: " I admire and love you..."

With such darling friends, I am a rich woman indeed. Thank you dears.

I have received several other glorious gifts as well. Yesterday I received a T-Shirt from this website from Trip and Slam, who saw it on the internet and knew it was for me:

Fits like a glove! Posted by Picasa

I love it, thank you!

I had previously stated that this lovey sent me my first birthday present of 2005, but I realized recently that this was incorrect. My sweet G actually bought me a birthday present a week or so prior, at the opening day of the New York Renaissance Faire. When we go back to the Faire in a few weeks, I'll post a photo of me wearing it. Let's just say it's leather, it's custom-made, and it's something I never would have bought myself.

I have also received a beautiful E-card from this gentleman, with truly beautiful sentiments. Thank you dear, I played it over and over this afternoon!

Jess has arranged a birthday party for this Friday, which was supposed to be a joint party for me and this Charming Man, as we are Astro-Twins, sharing the exact same birthday, but alas, The Charmer can't make it, so I'll be happy to soak up all the birthday goodness myself. I'm looking forward to some yummy cuban food, some refreshing mojitos, and some awesome company. Let's send the summer out in style!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a free evening and some DVDs to watch....

Friday, August 19, 2005

Off of my Chest, Out of My Mind, Into My Heart

Being filled with all that vitriol yesterday was seriously bumming me out, so I wrote that post to purge it. It didn't feel good writing it, it didn't feel good posting it, and I don't feel better now that I've said what I have to say. I am convinced that if I were to call up said friend and try to talk to them about it, I'd feel even worse, and the friendship, such that it is, would end.

I'm not quite ready to end that friendship, or I would have done so by now. I've been holding all that in for a good number of months, and it's been contributing to my depression. Now that I've admitted what's going on, and faced the fact that this person isn't going to magically transform into a better friend overnight, I've got something else to sit on.

I haven't lost all faith in this person. I truly believe they do not realize what they have been doing to me all this time. I think they'd be shocked to read this. If I were to call them up and confront them, they'd never be able to admit to this one-upmanship behavior. They don't see themselves that way, and dragging past crimes across their lap isn't going to change that.

That said, I think if this person were to realize this, they'd genuinely feel bad. They might even feel just a teensy bit ashamed. This is, basically, underneath their desperate need to always be on top, a good person.

I mean, that's possible, isn't it? To be a genuinely good person, even if your primary need in life is to be perceived as the hottest shit in the room?

This isn't going where I hoped it would go. Maybe I'm just still too angry to get to the understanding and forgiving part.

Patience has never been one of my virtues.

Instead of confronting this person now, I'm going to forget about this for a while. The next time this person pulls this shit, then I will speak up. I'll do it calmly. (No, really, I will.) I'll simply point out what they have said, tell them how it makes me feel, and see what they have to say. And we'll see how things go from there.

I'm not usually the sort to react to things with a punch or a snarl. Generally, things hit me in the stomach and wound me, and while I'm doubled over licking myself I'll mutter "bitch" under my breath and try to change the subject. I'm a wimp. I've never had the self-esteem to really defend myself. I always, somehow, deep down inside, believed that I was inferior to a lot of people. I never knew my own worth.

That's over.

If someone who considers me a friend doesn't know my worth, then it's up to me to know it, and show it. It's not my style to wear it on my sleeve, but I have my ways of making myself known, and of making it clear that I'm not the punching bag or the fall girl or the wallpaper or the cheerleader anymore.

The problem is that when I take someone as friend, it's because I see the worth inside them, and want to be around them, and have them in my life. The problem is that I care about the person I have labeled "friend." I wouldn't label them that if I didn't care about them. And it hurts to learn that someone I care about doesn't value me. It hurts bad. Some more than others. Some a great deal more than others.

Dysfunctional, codependent relationships can go so many ways. Parents, children, lovers, friends, roommates, office lunch buddies, church group fellows. How much are we using people? How much are we giving of ourselves? How much are we taking in that we shouldn't? How much are we not taking in that we should?

This is 2005, and my motto this year is hope, not fear. Am I afraid of losing this friendship? Yes.

I hope, however, that I will not.

I haven't mentioned it much, but this year I re-joined the Weaver Circle. The Weavers are a year-long spirituality program, part education, part sisterhood, part coven. We meet once a month to learn about earth-centered faith traditions, their practices, and various goddesses. We also create sacred space, talk about our lives, how they relate to our spirituality, our relationship to the divine and what that means to us. This weekend my sisters and I are going on retreat. I'll be cooking for everyone Saturday night, and participating in a Full Moon Circle and some other rituals. I'm so glad I have this opportunity for spiritual immersion right now. I have a lot to think about, and a lot of prayers to offer.

I'm partly sad to be missing some gatherings. My glorious Galpal is throwing herself a birthday party at this place tomorrow night, this darling couple is throwing a birthday-versary bash at their beautiful home tomorrow, and my old office crowd is getting together tomorrow. For some reason August 20th is a really big day this year. Enjoy the full moon, everyone!

However, I made a commitment to the weavers, and the retreat is where I belong. I also know it's what's best for me right now. I would like to suggest to all of you readers, that tomorrow night, if you should find yourself outdoors under the glowing gaze of the full moon, that you pause for a moment and offer thanks for your friends. And if, like me, you have been feeling hurt, ask for a reminder of the love in your life. It may manifest itself in the most surprising and wonderful of ways.

Have a blessed weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I have Something to Say

Let me rephrase what I said in my previous entry: a few of the people in my life who I call friends have at times called me a fanatic. Usually a liberal fanatic.

I strongly believe that one of the best parts of American Freedom is the right to live our lives the way we see fit. Sometimes it's all we can do to simply get our laundry and taxes done and keep food on the table. Activism isn't for everyone. It's our right as Americans to choose how involved we want to be. It's ok if you never send a check to anyone, if you can't afford it. It's ok if you never attend a rally, if between your famly and your job you're worn out by Saturday. I don't have a problem with people who take care of their own.

The problem is when these people start putting down people like me for being so activistic.

What's wrong, are you jealous? Do I make you feel guilty? Does that make it ok for you to put down what's important to me while I'm standing in front of you? Is your pride worth sacrificing our friendship? Because that's what's happening.

I've been sitting on this for a long time. As I said, I have a few friends like this... and they are very similar types of people. However, I am increasingly disgusted with them.

These people are white, straight, thin, well-educated, and have never known hunger or poverty in their lives. They have never been deeply in debt, they have never had to rely on public transportation, and they have never been anywhere near homeless. They have always had health insurance. They come from divorce-free, drug-free families - and I'm not just talking illegal drugs.

These are not rich people, they're middle class, which makes this even more disgusting. If they were from gated mansions and had never seen a Wal-Mart before, I might be able to excuse their complete indifference to the plight of others. But they're not. They have gay friends, black friends, and friends who never went to college. They have family members without health insurance. I can't figure out if they think they are immune, or if they are too afraid to risk being treated the way they treat me.

I'm white, but I prefer blues and hip-hop to anything else on the radio right now. I'm a girl, but I love cars, motorcycles, whisky, and being on top. I'm straight, but I have a CD collection full of Indigo Girls and country music, and I prefer cowboy boots and drinking beer out of the bottle. I'm not Jewish, and don't plan on converting, but I have no problem sending my kids to Hebrew school, if I marry a Jewish man and that's what he wants. I'm... well, I don't know why it's so surprising to my friends that I have no qualms about hanging in a gay bar. Maybe it's because I'm not bothered by the idea that I might be mistaken for gay.

People, in general, don't scare me anymore.

But I digress. This post is about people who find out I see things differently than they do, and decide that since we are such close friends, this gives them the right to make fun of me to my face about it, or worse, put down whatever it is I like that they don't.

To all of you, fuck off.

If you can't respect the way I feel or what I like, and keep your damn judgements to yourself, then I am no longer your friend. I'm cutting your power cord. You see, I've figured you out. You like to say that when you put down things that are important to me, you aren't putting ME down, but this is bullshit. You do it specifically to shut me up. I can see how puffed up you get when you think you've won.

What exactly do you think you've won? What's the prize? Since when is this some sort of competition? And for how long has winning something been more important to you than hurting my feelings? At exactly which point in time did your ego become more important than our friendship?

What kind of friendship is this?

When you condemn something that matters to me, them's fighting words. And when you sniff indifferently at something I am passionate about, you may as well have slapped me in the face - so don't be surprised if I haul off and slap you right back.

I do my best to respect the things that are important to people I care about. If I don't agree, I won't judge you, and I won't try to change your mind. I won't go off on a 5-minute sermon about my view unless you ask me to. Let me repeat: unless you ask me to. And rest assured, if you ask me, I'll tell you. So next time, think before you ask me to tell you how I feel about something. Including you. Think REALLY hard. Because I'm through kissing ass.

Especially since you have never seen fit to kiss my ass in return, for any reason. I'm through stroking your dick - excuse me - ego. Find someone else to do that. I'm sure you'll have no problem finding another follower.

Right now, I'm wondering if I was ever really anything more than that.

No Surprise...

You scored as Politiqueer. You go gurl! You are out to change the world, one vote and voice at a time. You do your work through telling people how it should be, doing it, and running for office. You keep marching honey, cause one day the world will change thanks to you!



Drama Queen


Attitude Queen




Out and Proud Queer


Circuit Boy


Drag Queen




Abercromibe Boi


Str8 boi




Gym Bunny


What gay personality are you?
created with

(from his blog)

Among my straight friends, I am considered a bit of an activist fanatic. All I want is equality for everyone. I don't know why that's so hard for people to get. If one more straight person looks at me funny or yawns when I talk about gay rights, I'm going to slap them.

It pisses me off when people only care about things that they think will only affect them. The truth is, you never know what's going to affect you. This attitude of "It's not my problem, so why should I help do anything about it?" stimulates violent impulses in me.

Maybe underneath it all I don't understand people whose friends are all carbon copies of themselves.

Or, maybe, I do understand them, and they disgust me.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

And the Birthday Begins Early!

So I get home at a non-descript hour yesterday, like 5:30 or so. And it's been a non-descript workday, a Wednesday. I'm wearing non-descript work clothes, black pants, a black top with something colorful embroidered on it, and a blue cardigan, and no makeup or jewelry other than my glasses. I had a nondescript crappy hospital cafeteria salad and diet coke for lunch. I got home and had a nondescript frozen meal for dinner. Big deal.

At some point G comes home and hands me a typically non-descript brown box, clearly from "Did you order something?" I asked him?

"It's for you," he said, grinning.

"I didn't order anything," I said. So I rip it open, and whatever is inside is shrink-wrapped to a piece of cardboard. I managed to extricate it, and now the thing is wrapped in green paper. Pretty green! With a very pretty green satin ribbon. And a piece of paper taped to it that says "Don't spoil the surprise - open your gift first!"

"OH MY GOD SOMEBODY GOT ME SOMETHING OFF MY AMAZON.COM WISHLIST!" I shreiked. I stared at it, grinning for a couple of minutes. "It's a book! I wonder which one it is!?"

"Open it." G commanded.

So it's this - I know, sounds cheesy, but I have a friend who is a life coach, and people pay her a lot of money to help them work through major life changes and transitions, and she recommended I buy this book. I figure when someone does something for a living and recommends something that someone else did, it must be pretty good. And I certainly have been going through some big life changes and transitions. Hell, I have been for almost three years now.

I jumped up and down, and proceeded to tell G exactly what I explained in the previous paragraph. "This is SO AWESOME!" I screeched.

My first birthday present of 2005! And the name on the card? This lovely man.

I immediately started leafing through the book, reading bits of it aloud to G as he munched on grilled cheese:

What, specifically, am I willing to do to make an investment in myself and my transition?

Well, I'm willing to drive to and from New Jersey four nights a week and some weekends and Friday nights for 13 months, and take out a new package of student loans. I'm willing to work whatever day jobs I can get to finance what those loans don't cover. I'm willing to pretty much give up one year of my life to this training. And I'm so excited to do it.

Exercise: Write Your Fiction

...put on your best novelist's hat. Write five different and distinct scenarios that are possible ways that you can get from where you are to where you'd like to be. Your fiction can be close to your real life, or it can be outrageous. Whatever occurs to you as a joyful way to have your possibility become a reality is fair game.

Oh yeah. I have no problem with this. Why waste time? Here's my Fiction:

I'll find a temp job that pays better than the MBIA gig did, and on top of that, I'll finally meet the right bunch of fellas and sing gigs at music clubs on Saturday nights. This will enable me to pay more of my debt off faster and get through school with a light heart. I'll get the highest marks in my classes. I'll pass my National Certification Exam AND the New York State Licensing Exam with the highest scores on the first try. I'll be hired by stressed-out executives in Westchester county, and make obscene amounts of money. I'll eventually join a clinic and specialize in pregnancy massage, which will pay less, but will be twice as rewarding.

I'll buy a small house on the Metro-North line, move my grandpa's piano, the rest of my furniture, Marge and G into it, and live happily ever after.

This feels like the Mondo Beyondo list that I created last year. Funny, Brian was responsible for that too.

Thanks, Brian, for making a nondescript Wednesday very special, and very inspirational.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Second Take

Well, I am now enrolled in a new massage therapy school. This one will give me more than enough education and experience to pass the New York Licensing exam. It appears that a certain population of their student body is there for that reason. It will cost about twice as much, and take about 13 months to complete. I'm on board.

So here I go again, learning a new commute in and out of New Jersey. Today's first run wasn't completely awful. 287 to the Garden State to 4 East to 4 West (yes, you read that right) to a local road to the school. I think from now on I won't be going that way though. I hear the Palisades parkway is easier. *blink blink*

But I really don't care anymore. I get where I need to be.


I may have a new temp assignment - just for a week - at a super-cool company in Westchester!! Hopefully I'll be able to continue my hospital assignment afterward. But the week-long gig - even though it's only one week - ought to pay my regular rate, and right now I really need that cash. I just dropped $150 registration & Application fees, and have to start shelling out over $200 a month for school starting October. That's out-of-pocket - what the student loan doesn't cover. So even if it's just for a week, I really could use that cash. (fingers crossed)

My dad turned 65 yesterday, and I didn't even send him a card. With everything going on in my life, I plum fergot. The man deserves something good. I have some ideas.

My 34th birthday is in two weeks.


I'll get back to you on that.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Part 1: The News

I dropped out of the Massage Therapy School, after only three days of classes. I realized that this school wasn't really setup to provide the kind of education I need to practice in New York State. My heart broke a little, but really the most prominent emotion I felt regarding this was anger. Now I have to research schools and get into a new program.

I have learned a great deal about how to choose a Massage Therapy Program. I learned that New York State is the most difficult state in the USA when it comes to getting a license. For many states, being Nationally Certified to practice is enough. For a number of states, you have to pass state licensing requirements, which isn't really all that bad, since this normally involves simply passing an exam. New York, however, wants more.

The standard Massage Therapy training program, at most schools, offers 600 hours of study with around 150 hours of hands-on clinic traning. New York requires no less than 1000 hours of training. Not only that, but there is a short list of schools that are approved by the state of New York. If you get your training anywhere that is not on that list, then New York State examines your education to see if you qualify. They could, conceivably, not allow you to obtain a license even if you have completed a professional training program. What's good for the rest of the country is just not good enough for New York.

Of course.

So I found a school in Englewood, NJ that will give me over 1400 hours of training with 150 hours of clinic work. AND they'll take federal student loans! Sweet! The other shoe drops when I see the cost of this program is $12,000. Ouch. But I'll be in and out in twelve months, and will have six months to get licensed and start working before I have to start making loan payments. This is doable. Their next semester start date is September! I'm so there.

However, this Englewood school is not on New York State's short list of approved schools. Bad.

I tried to speak to someone at the New York State Board of professions about how to choose a program if it's not on the list. The gal in the BoF office told me I needed to speak to someone in the licensing office, and transferred me there. The gravely-voiced crone in the licensing office said "We don't speak to anyone who's not applying for licensure." Really now.

I called the BoF girl back, and explained that the licensure office refused to speak to me. "I'm going to transfer you again," she said. "Ask for Jane Smith this time."

"Can I have your name?" I asked meekly. "They were SO unpleasant to me..."

"Sure, it's Carol," she said, and transferred me.

So now I'm back to the chain-smoker. "Can I speak to Jane Smith?"

"Call back after 1:30," she barks. A glance at my watch told me it was 1:20.

"Fine," I said. She hung up on me.

Ok, I'm clearly not getting any answers out of the state. 15 minutes later Jane Smith wasn't available. I left a message. I don't expect a call back.

Tuesday, I trotted two blocks down from my apartment to this place, and asked one of the massage therapists if she could recommend a good school. She directed me to a place in Westwood, NJ. She says she knows people who practice in New York State who were trained there. So I check them out - they have a special 400-hour post-graduate completion program for people who want to practice in New York! Awesome! And they cost the same as the Englewood school! Sweet! The program takes a little longer, but Westwood happens to be a very short, easy drive from Nyack. I can handle an extra 6 months of study to reach this goal, especially with an easy commute.

So this morning, I call my student loan people, and explain the situation with the switching schools. I ask them what I will need to do when it's time to transfer my loan to another school. "Which school would you like to go to?" The nice gal asked. I gave her the school name, and she set to typing.

"I don't see anything in Westwood, NJ," She said.

Huh? "It's there, it's called ("Nice Massage School for New York-Bound Therapists"). In Westwood, New Jersey."

"I don't see it," she repeated. "Unfortunately, if it's not in my system, then we can't send your funds there."

My jaw hit the floor. A quick phone call to the school confirmed that they only take loans from Sallie Mae, which is a private company, and is not the same as your old-fashioned student loan. For one thing the interest rates are twice as high.

So, here I am, with a school that has a proven track record of training New York therapists, but won't take my Federal Student Aid. On the other hand, I have a school that looks awesome on paper, that will take my student loan, but I don't know anyone practicing in New York (or anyone who knows of someone practicing in New York) that has studied there. And of course is not on the short list of NY-approved schools.

"But, Ouiser," you may ask, "Why don't you just attend one of the schools on the NY-approved list?" Well, I'd love to, but check out the list. Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island... none of those places are driving-accessible to Nyack. And the place in Manhattan? It's the Harvard of Massage. Twenty-five thousand smackers. Not an option for me, even with financial aid.

Besides... the feds aren't giving me a lot of money. They seem to think that since I'm 33 and have a college degree, I should be able to pay for a lot of it myself. That really stung. Even for the program that cost a little less than eight thousand, my student loan only gave me five thousand. bitter rant I was supposed to pull the rest out of my pathetic temp-worker paychecks and the occasional unemployment change. And I guess not eat every day. end bitter rant

Oh, and there's that whole I-was-just-forced-out-of-New-York-City-
and-I'll-be-damned-if-I'm-going-to-commute-in-and-out-of-it-now thing.
(Ok, NOW end bitter rant)

So I have spent this entire day on the phone with two massage therapy schools, the federal student aid office, and digging up info on the net. I found a third school too. I emailed them and asked for a catalog. Right now, it's 4:18pm. Now, even though I am frustrated as hell, this has been a good day's work.

My friend Glamgirl is in New York for a few months, visiting from Korea. We spent last weekend together, shopping and noshing and talking about what we wanted to do next in our lives. At some point, she said "All the time I know you, I never see you really *want* to do anything - until now."

This girl and I struggled through SCAMDA together. She gave the maid-of-honor speech at my wedding. We spent an autumn of never-ending club-hopping after my marriage disintegrated. She remembers every job I ever had, every life I've ever tried to live. "You really want this," she said. "It's good."

"Yeah," I said to her, "It is good."

Part 2: The Commentary

G said to me the other night: "Thank God you started school NOW, so you could find out all this NOW, rather than sail through the summer and find out in October that you were in the wrong place."

I said: "But I was kicking myself for rushing into this. I was saying, maybe if I had waited until October to start school, I would have learned all this and pulled out of the enrollment before classes even started? I could have gotten all my tuition back then - now ITM gets to keep ten percent!"

"No," G said, "You wouldn't have known enough to look for this kind of info."

He's right. I wouldn't have know enough to ask the questions I did. I learned about the New York State licensing requirements from a packet of information I received on the first day of classes, as part of our student massage practice insurance. I fiddled with the papers and read the card with the pretty yellow stripes that listed the licensing requirements for every state in the country... and BAM. Reality hit.

It took me a couple of days to absorb it. If I had stayed in that school, I would have graduated 400 education hours short, and the best they could offer me was to enroll in an entire additional course of study for an additional seven grand. I'd be in school for two years before I could even apply to practice in New York! I just couldn't see spending my student loan money this way, knowing there were other schools that offered the right number of hours in half the time for comparable money.

My heart broke a little when I faxed my official withdrawal notice, but I did it. I want this new career too badly to not do it right.

Now I'm fighting despair, but I notice it's not as intense as my past despair has been. Let's face it, this is a temporary setback. I still know what I want to do with my life - or, at least I want this to be the next phase of my life, however long it lasts. Where I get the training doesn't matter to me very much. I just want to be doing it.

My new temp job is in a beautiful hospital in Bronxville. I'm working in the Nursing Department. This hospital offers classes in Lamaze, infant care for new moms, CPR, and other such health-related courses for the general public, as well as CPR for Professional Certification. I'm responsible for signing people up for the classes, making sure the instructors have the info and materials they need to teach, and for receiving payments and correspondence. It's a great customer-oriented position, and I talk to expectant moms every day. It's a beautiful environment. I feel blessed to be there.

Almost all the nurse managers are Irish. Pale-skinned, red-haired, blue-eyed irish women with names from the old country. They all look like my relatives. Once, one of the directors accidentally called me Bridget, and I loved it. It's become the department joke. Yesterday someone complimented me on my computer skills, and I said "Bridget taught me everything I know." (yuk yuk yuk.) I feel like I'm surrounded by family - but a family that actually really needs me and wants me around more often than once a year. Blessed.

The drive isn't bad. Over the TappanZee (EZ pass GO), down the Sprain Brook south - which is a lovely, scenic ride - to an exit that plops me right into downtown Bronxville. A meandering road takes me to the parking garage and off I go. The only bad thing is the cafeteria, but hey, I've been spoiled. I'd rather have a great job with a shitty caf than the other way around.

There is one very sad thing about this job; the woman I'm filling in for is out sick, and I know she's been in and out of the hospital. She is out "indefinitely." She has been with the hospital for a while - everyone knows her, and everyone loves her. Someone from the Nursing department visits her pretty much every day. She seems like a lovely person and I truly hope she fully recovers from her ailment... but I know she has a hard road ahead of her. I also would imagine that if she does recover fully, she will be back to work, and I'll be out of a job again, and have to say goodbye to another wonderful workplace. It's bittersweet, but I'd rather have her healthy and strong and living a good life. For me, after all, no matter how happy I may be with it, it's just a temp job. Perspective.

I miss New York City. I fantasize about living there again, waking up in the morning, eating my yogurt and fruit and multi-grain bread, walking a few blocks to the train and riding down to the spa or the clinic or wherever I'm practicing massage therapy. I fantasize about living alone with Marge, my furniture, and my grandpa's piano, and about writing music and essays in my spare time. I want the New York life that I never really had... I want my Friday-to-Sunday life to become, simply, My Life.

I guess we all want that.

I told G a few months ago that I was resentful toward him because I have lost the capacity to say "fuck you." At least, to him. In the past, if a man didn't like something about me, even something trivial, I didn't take his criticism. I could plow through life with only the most basic regard for my lovers - it was their responsibility to fit into my life, not the other way around. When I broke up with them, I didn't look back. But I know, with Gardiner, if I were to lose him, I would have a very hard time getting past it. I am so motivated to make sure he is as happy with me as I am with him that I am doing a lot of things differently. I think I am more up front about my feelings about things, because I don't want him saying "I never knew this about you" down the road.

That was the one thing that ususally killed relationships for me. "I though you were one way, then I realized you were something else."

Well, I'll do almost anything to maintain the goodness of this relationship, the integrity, the fun, the comfort. It's too important to me. I can't neglect it, I can't disregard it, I can't take it for granted, I can't cavalierly dump it. I need it. I love G. And I am absolutely 100 percent not in control of this relationship.

And I told him I hate that. I resent that. I didn't think, when we started dating, even when I fell in love with him, that I would become so protective of this nebulous thing that we have, that we call our relationship. I'm like a feral mother. If I sense that it's sick, I freak out. I really resent this feeling. I had no idea I would love him this much.

Dysfunctionality can be so comforting.

I need to get past the idea that in order for the relationship to be healthy, I'm the one who has to take all the responsibility for convincing G that we're for real. I need to keep reminding myself that this needs to go two ways, and that I have needs other than financial that he, if he's going to be my partner, will need to address. I can't be the only one asking "is everybody happy," and eventually, he will need to let me have a say in how the money gets spent. For now, he's making all the money, and I'm doing all the emotional work. I think it's taking a toll on me. I hate feeling dependent, and I am exhausted from all the... emotional work. I can't think of a better term for it.

His complete support of my new career interest and educational pursuit is, without a doubt, enabling me to boldly charge ahead into this venture. I applied and enrolled very quickly and fearlessly, and the minute I realized I was in the wrong place, I withdrew efficiently. Now I'm diligently working to get back on track with a new school. Knowing that he will ask me how I'm doing with that is the second biggest motivator I have. It's what kept me at this for 5 hours today.

I can't just do things for myself. They say to people who are trying to lose weight, or to quit smoking, that you have to do it for yourself. But I can't work that way. I need someone else in my life, someone who loves me, who I feel responsible to, to motivate me to take better care of myself. Yes, that's a bit fucked up, but that's how it is. And frankly, I don't really think it is all that fucked up. I value myself just fine - but I see no point to living if nobody cares if I'm alive or dead.

G cares. Not only does he care, but more than anyone ever has before, he acts on it. He pushes me to do what I need. He encourages me. He reminds me of my priorities. He rewards me with nice dinners and snuggles on the couch. When he says he's proud of me, I light up like the New Year's Eve ball in Times Square. He's as much a coach as he is a lover. He may just be one of the very best friends I have ever had.

I need this man. Damn him.

I have many reasons to believe, lately, that he does not feel the same way about me. I have reasons to believe that he is disenchanted with me. My moodiness is finally wearing him down, after a year and a half of dating and almost six months of living together. I don't know if we will survive another year right now. I become oddly disconnected to my emotions when I think of this. If we break up, I'll find someplace else to live, and get on with my life, and date again. However, I feel nothing when I type this, and perhaps this is because I am unwilling to accept this vision of the future.

I am not going to "fix myself" to prove I can be a good wife to him. As much as I love him, I simply don't feel that anyone in my life warrants "fixing myself" except for me. I fix myself for me. If someone else truly loves me, if it's ME they love, then that should be enough. I am basically waiting for him to decide if he really loves me - the essence of me, the me-ness of me. I have a feeling that, after a year and a half of dating and almost six months of living together, that he does not even really know me yet.

That's his issue. He has to want to know me. He has to look for me to find me. If he's standing right in front of me, and only sees what he fears, he will never know me. And that's his dysfunction, not mine.

So I'd say we're about evenly matched. Dysfunctionally, I mean.

But it's he who will be the fool, who couldn't see what so many others could. And it's I whose heart will break, yet again.

So I have a car now - I'm no longer dependent on him for transportation. I have a new direction in life. I'm going to have skills and certification to use them. I'm going to love my new career, helping people to feel better. I'm going to pay off all my student loans. I will be back on my feet financially. In a few short years, everything's going to be different for me. And, I think, in a lot of very deep, underlying, important ways, it's going to be better.

He's in on the ground floor of this, and I hope he doesn't give up on me, despairing that I'll ever get the elevator working. Because man, it's going to be one hell of a view. Mount Ouiser is going to have a castle on top.

I see where the road leads now. Come on, G, just stick with me...