Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Love is an equation: a me and a you derives a we" - Richard Fish, Ally McBeal

One of the shows I'm currently watching from start to finish via Netflix is Ally McBeal. I used to watch this show with my mom as a youngster and I was interested in watching it again as an adult. If you've never seen it, it's hysterical. It is about a woman, Ally, in her late twenties who comes to work at the same law firm as her now married, but once long time love, Billy. As the seasons go on, the drama ensues as we watch Ally date different men, Billy's wife comes to work at the firm with them, and we see how her cases force her to reflect on her life. We see her therapy sessions and the therapy sessions of her co-workers who are all in some way certifiably crazy. In the unisex bathroom at the office, choreographed dances to Barry White songs, acrobatics, and girl fights are the norm. Despite the hysterics and the quirkiness of the characters, the over-arching theme of each episode is Ally's quest for love. I'm always curious to see how I feel when I decide to turn off the TV and go to sleep after watching several episodes. Since I usually watch the show when the man is at work or I'm just sleeping at home by myself that night, it makes me miss him. It makes me thankful that I have him, even if he isn't there that minute, but knowing he's out there comforts me. I feel relieved in knowing that I'm not "out there" looking, searching, and hoping like Ally.

It made me think about how I used to feel years ago after watching episodes of Grey's Anatomy. I would let the DVR at home in New Jersey record all of the episodes so I could watch eight in a row on my breaks from school. I thought about this one particular time sophomore year when I was dating this guy. He had already moved away and our long distance relationship was really hard. These days I don't usually go more than 24 hours without seeing the man, I don't know how I went weeks back then. Anyway, I can remember sitting in the basement, turning off the TV, and feeling like I don't express to him enough how I feel about him. Grey's Anatomy is intense and it was during the crazy MerDer times of back and forth, up and down, and just woah ("Pick me, choose me, LOVE ME"). I would turn off the TV feeling the same intense feelings as the characters but I rarely acted upon them. However this one time I called him. I told him that sometimes I don't feel like I adequately tell him all of the lovey dovey feelings that I have for him. He really didn't understand because he said that he felt very loved but he appreciated hearing it nonetheless.
Fast-foward to now, I realized that perhaps I really didn't feel those things for him, which is why I had a hard time saying them. I also think that I'm just easily caught up in the moment and the emotions of a great show, kudos to Grey's for inspiring such intense reactions from me. I know I loved him, he was my first BIG love and I don't want to take away from that but perhaps it's possible that the overly expressive words didn't come out of my mouth because he was not the love of my life. Maybe you're only supposed to show, feel, and express love the way they do on TV and in movies one time. I couldn't be sure what the answer was but I went home this weekend and was coincidentally faced with the relationship in another way...

My parents are painting all of the walls in our house over again and so my mom is cleaning out and packing everything with the assumption that the house will finally sell this spring. She asked me to go through my "boyfriend boxes" and pack them away. I only have two old boyfriend boxes and they get easier and even a little bit more ridiculous to go through with each year that passes. I was able to get rid of a lot of memorabilia that I was never able to before but I still read through most of the emails I saved, letters and cards we wrote to each other, and pictures. I stopped and asked my mom, "How did I manage to find two guys that were so overly expressive in their feelings for me and our relationship? What's that about?" We speculated that it was mainly the age at which I dated these guys, "when they're young, they fall hard and fast," she said. I was equally as shocked to read what I had written to them and about them. I had no reason to feel like I didn't express my feelings because I really did, more than I do now. I think in my current relationship, we express it differently and dare I say, more maturely. We are not a couple who is afraid to say those three words multiple times a day but there's an older, wiser, more cautious approach we take.

As we get older, as in the general population, it gets harder to so freely express our emotions as it was when we were younger because we know now that things don't always work out. New relationships that were once all exciting and thrilling are now part excitement but also part fear and expectation. I have this strange notion in my head that I have to be somewhat more fully formed before I can choose a mate for life and I was reminded by my parents this weekend that that is quite ridiculous. I think of my age as a factor in how I couldn't possibly choose a mate now but after going through those boyfriend boxes from high school and college, I realize how much older and wiser I really am now. I knew what I was doing then and I have to trust that I know what I'm doing now.

It felt right to be with those guys and when it wasn't right anymore, I made little hesitation in ending the relationships. The break-up was usually ignited by an incident that forced me to re-evaluate and ultimately decide to end things but what happens when those incidents stop happening? Or what happens when incidents occur that we successfully work through and termination isn't even on the radar screen? I think for some time I was waiting for that incident to happen with this current relationship, feeling like it can't just be that good, I couldn't possibly have met the right one right now....

As Sassarella's dad says, "All you need to know is...do you want this person in your life and is this person someone you can't imagine being without." I've answered those questions and I think I confused sleeping next to each other every night, spending time with our families, and considering each other in the life plans as really putting my all into the relationship but it's not. I never understood this before and maybe some of you reading this haven't yet either, but to really put my all into this I have to do away with the fear, the uncertainty, and the excuses for why it's not possible that I may have met my match. If I have fear, then how can I be fully and freely in this? If it's meant to stick then it can only be made better by my full attention and intentions. If it's not, then...well, let's not even go there.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, 
while loving someone deeply gives you courage. - Lao Tzu

This won't happen overnight. I'm way too analytical to completely disregard my over-analyzing brain but now that I'm aware of it, I can actively pay attention to situations where I might shy away from or be cautious and choose not to be. I believe the only factors holding me back are my fear in every aspect of my life of making a mistake and the fact that I haven't quite let go of how my life was supposed to go. I'm a type-A perfectionist who doesn't make mistakes, that's just the way it goes but I gotta take risks and trust that the risks are the right risks to take...ya know, since I don't make mistakes and all. And well, I don't think anyone can say that life is turning out just as they planned, (even though I had it written down, broken down by year, and such), I guess I have to start accepting that it's just not how it goes.

Sassarella Says...here's to us!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"You have exhausted all of your talking rights by being crazy" - Lorelai, GG

Big decisions: where to live, where to go to school, who to love, where to work, who to trust, etc. Smaller decisions: what to eat, how to exercise, when to vacation, train or bus, small or medium shirt, etc. No matter what the decision, big or small, I always seem to turn my mother for answers. Ecstatic, depressed, neutral, enraged....I turn to her for explanations. Now this is not a new epiphany, I've been doing it since I was old enough to make decisions and experience emotions but I've been thinking about it recently as I continue to grow into my relationship. I wonder when I will begin to turn to him for all answers and explanations. I wonder if I will ever turn to him in the same way that I turn to her. I wonder if it's okay that often, not always, but I often turn to him but still feel compelled to know her take on things before making a decision or coming to a conclusion. Does this mean I'm not a grown up? What does that say about me and will it ever change? Does it have to change and why is it something I even think about? I've been mulling this for a couple weeks now, trying to figure out how to make it interesting to write about, and on Sunday night, after a mini-meltdown of course, it came to me....

I had a really nice weekend. I worked at Rhino Friday night like I usually do. Saturday we got up and went grocery shopping; we bought fruit and veggies to make juice and I stocked up on snacks, sushi, and magazines for my night in. After he left for work, I nestled into his bed and watched three episodes of Shameless, followed by the Beyonce documentary on HBO, followed by another five or so episodes of Shameless. On Sunday we got up, went to the mall where I got new work kicks and mint green jeans for the spring and then over to Maddy's Tap Room for a friend's birthday celebration. I caught up with the girls, especially a Miss B.Ryan who had just returned from Peru the day before, it was a great night. We left on the early side, which I was happy about and he even offered to sleep at my apartment (WOWZA!). I danced around my room while blasting, "Pursuit of Happiness," the Lissie version, showered, and sat down on the bed. As I sat, he played his game on his phone, and I felt like crying. I couldn't tell you why, although, I believe some of my angst was about looming work projects that I just didn't want to go to sleep, wake up, and deal with, but they are not worth crying about!

"I'll be fine once I get, yeah I'll be good."

I text my mom to see if she's still up and as I wait for her to respond, he starts to notice that something is wrong. Rather than tell him that I feel like crying for no reason, I pretend like I'm fine but he's not buying it. A few minutes later, I step outside into the hallway to call her. I tell her what's going on, that he's here and it has nothing to do with him, that I can't pinpoint what the hell is going on, and she says, "well, maybe ya just need to cry...go ahead." I laugh a little and she goes off on a tangent about her day. By the end I felt better but I think he was a little freaked. "You never leave the room to talk to her, what's going on?" he asked. After some hemming and hawing, the only thing I could say was this, "I don't think you realize all the time how messed up and all over the place I feel. I think it's most definitely a gender thing, as much as I hate to say it, as well as an age thing. I get it...I'm in my 20s, I'm supposed to feel crazy, I'm supposed to feel jumbled up and confused, I'm supposed to have emotions that change at the drop of a hat....and frankly, I do. Sometimes when I feel those things, I turn to her because she has 24 years of experience dealing with me. She has 24 years of knowing me and while you and I are together a long time....1 year of knowing me is just not the same as 24. I consider myself to be more mature than most girls my age but sometimes I just want to be a kid and I think she understands that better because...well, because I'm her kid." This he understood. He loves me.

She's always going to have more years on whoever I turn to in tough times, decision times, and confusing times. Whether it was a conscious decision or it wasn't, she knew to just talk about nothing to me instead of trying to figure out why I was upset. I can't say that's a golden rule because sometimes I know deep down why I'm upset but don't want to say it so you have to dig it out (LOL craaaaay) but she can pretty much tell the difference simply because she's my mom.

It's funny and it's a weird dynamic because there are times when, for example, I'm ready to move in with the man but I feel like I have to have a conversation with my mom about it first. We've all talked loosely about it but before going in to sign any papers, I feel like I need to hear her say, "Ok, yes I support you." Does that mean I'm really not grown up enough to make that kind of decision? I want to say no because I want to say that if that were the case, I'd probably still be eating glue at a pre-school. I also want to say no because I want to move in with him and I don't want to hear that I'm not ready. Anyway....

Sassarella Says...I've decided that it's okay for me to turn to her and it doesn't mean I'm not mature enough to make decisions for myself. It means that I recognize her as the person who knows me best and that is reason enough to run some things almost everything by her...right?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's a girl thing.

On the most recent episode of Lena Dunham's show, Girls, her character Hannah spends the entire episode with a very attractive doctor. They don't know each other very well at all, in fact they had just met, but she spends the next day or two at his apartment. They drink wine, they cook dinner, they play ping pong, and have lots of sex. Although about twenty years her senior, he makes her feel comfortable, asks her questions about her life, but dodges any questions relating to his own story. He tells her that he's separated from his wife, who now lives in San Diego, but not much more than that.

The episode ends with Hannah getting out of the shower, sitting on his bed, and confiding to him about how she feels lonely sometimes. It was as if the feeling just hit her in that moment and a rush of emotions poured out of her. Once she composed herself she looked up to see his freaked out face staring back at her and she was hit with the second realization of the hour, that they are actually strangers. She calls him out for making her feel one way but reacting quite oppositely when she lets her guard down but ultimately she spends the night, gets up the next morning to an empty apartment, leaves, and we are left assuming that she will not see him again. (We'll have to watch next week to know for sure but that's just my guess). 

As the credits rolled, by boyfriend commented, "That would never happen in real life, especially to her." My first instinct was to defend Lena Dunham because lord knows what I might look like onscreen...they say the camera adds ten pounds! However I refrained and focused more on the first part of the comment. I responded very calmly and sincerely, "I related to that entire episode." He was confused and quiet but asked me how. 

I was that girl, and still could be that girl if I didn't have him, who sometimes thought that anything was just crazy and random enough that it might work out. Here she meets a guy on the street and spends a weekend with him, who's to say that it wasn't meant to be? As for me, in college and as recently as a year ago, we lived through my dating madness where I existed on a fine line between lonely desperation, hopeful romanticism/optimism, and bitter jadedness. I fell somewhere in between all three, expressing and feeling bits and pieces of each emotional state. I overlooked minor warning signs on first dates that I would never overlook today for the sake wanting something to work out. Sometimes I claimed to just do things or date people for the stories (which there were many) but let's call a spade a spade, I wanted a boyfriend. Not to mention the fact that I always dated men a bit older than myself, like Hannah. During that time I rarely hesitated when asked to...oh I don't know...jump in the Potomac River in February wearing nothing but a bra and undies. Sure it made for a great story and an experience I'll have forever but in terms of a happy ending with the guy? Not so much. He was emotionally closed off but I looked past this, which he made easy to do, by always keeping me on my toes. We crashed fancy parties, went to nice dinners, and jumped into rivers so it was easy to forget that I actually hardly knew the real him.

I think a lot of women experience this same sentiment, especially in their twenties when life just seems oh so possible of anything! We're told that "it will happen when we least expect it" so why shouldn't we have hope that meeting a random guy at a coffee shop and spending a weekend naked playing ping pong with him will ever work out? If I had seen this episode years ago or if I wasn't lying next to my committed boyfriend, I probably would've been in tears watching the closing scenes. I felt like she wrote that episode about me. Anyway, it was somewhere around this way less detailed part of my explanation with my boyfriend that I saw his face was still quite puzzled and I simply said, "well there's a reason why it's called Girls, not Boys." He concurred and we ended the discussion there. 

I didn't bother to go into this amount of detail with him because I was pretty certain that by the end of any explanation I would be left with one reason for him, "it's a girl thing." Our highs and lows are so extreme in our twenties that when we're on a high with a guy, we grab on and try really hard not to let go because we know how low the low really is. The low means sappy songs, old episodes of One Tree Hill, and five more pounds around the waist. It's miserable, trust me I know. So we let ourselves get swept away in the hope that it might just work out this one time....because really, you only need it to work out once so why not now? We are naïve and blinded by our own spontaneity but looking back I really would not have it any other way. Sure I was les misérable a lot but I had a lot of fun too. And I think pretty importantly, I really know that I'm happy now because I can tell the difference from a time when I was faking it.

Sassarella Says...there's nothing wrong with having hope that the craziest of situations might work out. The problem arises when you've got no hope left. Hang in there, mAh LaDiEZ. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I need a baby.

Growing up, Sammy and I always played house. We had a legit kitchen set, several real bedrooms to turn into fake rooms complete with changing tables and diaper bags. We had a living room, fake telephones, and a homemade Barbie house that took up an entire wall in the fake teenage girl's room. At the time, you are under the impression that it is your life's destiny to grow up, get married and have kids which is why you play games like house. However now that I think about it, I remember how I always opted to be the teenage daughter while Sammy always wanted to be the mother, it actually worked out quite perfectly. Looking back, this is fitting considering Sammy grew up to earn a lot of her money through middle school, high school, and college by babysitting neighbors, friends, and what would become consistent clients on a regular basis. Whereas I hated babysitting and only did it when a neighbor or friend called my mom to ask if I could do it but always started the call with, "I know she doesn't like to do it but I'm desperate." Sammy even grew up thinking she would be a teacher, (she's naturally maternal, I'm not, get over it) while I dreamt of professions that had very little to do with children. She has always wanted tons of babies and I've teetered between wanting lots of babies or having no babies at all.

My opinion constantly changes on the subject. One year I want six kids, all boys and the next year I don't want any. The periods of time that I thought I wouldn't have any correlated to my early college years when I would have melt downs every other day and ask my mother how she put up with me. "I'm too much work, I'm never having kids," I would say. But as I grow up it is easier to picture a happy picture of life that includes children. It also helps having someone in your life that you can see the happy picture someday with.

All of that aside, recently I'm finding myself really wanting a baby. This is coming from someone who has had a scare or two in her life and knows that she really doesn't want one right now, so why the sudden urge?

The other day I spotted a mother playing with her really freakin' cute baby boy on the metro. I felt the urge. I had had a pretty rough day and was on the verge of melt down number two for the afternoon and finally it clicked. I laughed at myself as a thought: I want a baby so I can worry about someone's life other than my own. Completely pathetic. Say it with me now, "I want a baby so I can stop obsessing over my own problems...." Good god. I don't have a hard life, relatively speaking to others, I know that, but my problems are mine and they exist. That day I was feeling completely overwhelmed wondering about the who, what, when, where, why, and hows about my job, my relationships, my weight, my life, my everything. I'm exhausted just reading that sentence.

My understanding is that when you have a baby all of your focus then shifts to the who, what, when, where, why, and hows of the kid and I would then become secondary. Obviously I'm not a moron. I'm fully aware that having a child is significant, life-changing, overwhelming, challenging, etc. I also know that my selfish reasons for wanting a child 100% indicate that I'm not ready to have a real one but I need a fake one.

A fake one? Yes. Ya know how when someone is working on an old car, fixing it up, and getting it in perfect condition, the friends and family of the person fixing up the car might call the car that person's "baby?" Well I need a baby! I need to figure out what it is that I can throw myself completely into to settle the roller coaster that is my brain and emotions. Nothing is overly fulfilling for me right now. My day job is what it is and will take time to really become something, if it ever does. My side jobs are what they are and don't quite satisfy my intellectual needs as they should. Any hobbies I have are often in third place after spending time with my man, my friends, oh and having 2.5 paying jobs. I need something that I and those around me can refer to as "my baby" other than my loving boyfriend. Part of my stress and anxiety is that I think I know what "my baby" could be but I have yet to allocate the time to get involved. Why is that? I wonder. Is it that the project feels so big that I don't know where to start? Perhaps. No matter what the reason, I really need to focus on "my baby" and not just say I'm going to do it.

Sassarella Says...I must go do. And if you know me at all, you will know that I will be working on this "baby" completely privately and you won't know it exists until I'm done...or almost done. Good day.