Thursday, September 15, 2011

As the summer days fade

School starts back up next week.  I only have 6 more days of summer break.  As nice as it's been to have some time where I didn't have homework hanging over my head, I think I am about ready to hit the books again.

I can't really sum up these past 5 weeks in one word.  They weren't exactly great, but they weren't terrible either. 

I took a fun little trip down to Stevenson, WA for the West Coast Subaru Show.  We stayed in a cabin on the river with another couple and it was glorious!

I taught the wife in the aforementioned couple how to knit, and it's been fun to see her progress!  She is a great student.

I got a lot of knitting time in myself and started going to knitting group again.  I went through almost four seasons of Nip Tuck while I worked on baby blankets.  I also finished a novel I'd been reading since April and started two new ones.  (That is one thing I miss during school: by the time I'm done with the required reading, the last thing I want to do is read for pleasure.)

My 3-day work weeks flew by since there were no classes in the evening....

I saw Midnight in Paris.  It was whimsical and charming.

I applied for new jobs and had an interview (but didn't get it). 

I got a new guinea pig named Cozi.  She is super friendly and loves to be held.  Right now she is in quarantine but next week I'll introduce her to Punky.

F and I had our relationship tested due to money issues but we're ok for now.  I think we have been growing as a couple lately and we are becoming more comfortable.  But at the same time that terrifies me and so I have been guilty of lashing out due to fear.  We also witnessed the dissolving of his BFF's engagement, and I think that has both made us stronger and simultaneously put extra stress on us. 

A lot can happen in a few weeks but they seemed to just fly by...

It is amazing to think about last fall and how I was still settling into my new relationship and my new school.  This year the relationship is older and more familiar but definitely not stale, and I am finding myself anxious to get back to the routine of school!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Messages from the universe

I am not much of a religious person, but I do believe that sometimes things happen for a reason.  I've had experiences where in the darkest hour a stranger held a door for me, or let me go ahead of them in line, or offered me a ride to the bus stop when I was running late.  I believe that people are generally more good than evil, and that a little kindness can go a long way.

In the past few months I've realized that my current job is not really a good fit.  After working in research for over six years and completing a year of graduate school in education, I am ready to move up and on.  I am a very committed person, so I did go to my supervisor first to talk about advancement since I'd like to stay where I am until I graduate. Unfortunately, he is not open to it.  I'm at the top of the pay scale with the highest title I can have for the kind of work he needs.  So I've been looking for a new job that is a better fit with my goals.  I finally landed an interview last week and it went well.  She was checking my references and I had a second interview lined up this week.  However, I got a call today that she had chosen someone else.

Yes, I am a bit bummed because it would have been a great opportunity.  I went to have coffee with a my coworker during our break and on the way back we were riding in the elevator with a woman who started talking to us.  "I like your shoes," she said to me.  And then she called my coworker and me "cute" and told my coworker she had a great smile.

It wasn't a big deal, and the woman seemed a little crazy, but it was just the perfect boost at the perfect time.  It's things like that that make me remember that even if I'm a little disappointed now, things will work out in the end.  Maybe there is a better job out there, or maybe I will be able to quit in a few months and be a full-time student.  Who knows?  In the meantime, I will keep persevering...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The many layers of love

The recent breakup of a friend's engagement has me thinking a lot about love lately.  What is it?  What makes it disappear or endure?  What, exactly, is "true love"?  Is it that sparkly passion of Scarlett and Rhett, or is it the comfort and security of Ron and Hermione?

In the past, I have been guilty of dropping the L-bomb a bit too freely.  I think I said it at one point or another in every monogamous/serious relationship I've had, although the frequency varied.  For example, with non-bf I probably said it less than 10 times over three years because he never returned the sentiment.  With my boyfriend before that, we said it daily.

When I ponder over past relationships, of course with hindsight being 20/20, I think, "Oh, I didn't love him," or "That wasn't true love."  But that thinking is faulty.  Because I did love them.  At the time.  I loved them with what I knew about love when I was with them.  Sometimes the love was more about teenage hormones and other times it was more about friendship.  Sometimes it was about passion and excitement, and sometimes is was about loving love itself.  Sometimes it was about the other person, sometimes it was about me, and sometimes it was just about not wanting to be alone.  We are all guilty of that. 

This love I feel for F is different than all those past loves.  I have been comparing it, trying to figure out why.  I've been dissecting the reasons he is the only one I've ever even considered cohabiting with, trying to come up with an explanation other than "I just know," or "It just feels right."  Finally, I think I've been able to figure it out.  It's not that I love him in a particular way, it's that I love him in all the ways.  We have a strong, connecting bond that only happens when you've been friends for over a decade. I am deeply attached.  I am fiercely protective of him and our relationship.  He is a member of my family, my inner circle.  But on top of all that, there is sparkly chemistry.  My heart pumps an extra beat or two when he seeks me out at home to give me a random kiss, or when we cuddle together on the couch.  And even though I enjoy my alone time, I am always happy to see him when he comes home.  I am as at ease with him as I am by myself, and that is saying something.  The combination of the sparks, comfort, and the fact that his presence adds to my life instead of drains my energy is how I know this is for real.  Really reals. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

"This life has been a test. Had it been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go and what to do."

I took a good emotional tumble last week.  It had to do with work.  My boss not only rejected my request, but did so in a way that stung like hell and broke me for a while.  

Although I am sensitive, I try to be strong at the same time.  I get knocked down easily, but I don't stay down for long.  Well, this week I stayed down for longer than I'd have liked.  

It happened on Wednesday, and I called in sick to work on Thursday.  I still don't know if I was being a coward or not, but I do know that having a day off to recharge really helped.  And I know that I wasn't a coward in asking for what I wanted, and I was brave to keep asking even in the face of roadblocks.  I saw it through to the end, and I have no regrets about what "could have been" because I did my best.  I think that's important.

I also let my fears get to me on Saturday when I was supposed to go on a bike ride with the guys.  I'm not proud of that.  But maybe being brave twice in five days was just too much.  And maybe that's ok.  

Tomorrow is my first day back after the incident.  I am worried, but I will get through it.  At least my coworkers are sweet and understanding.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em?

I am avid reader of the blogs Living Single and Onely: Single and Happy.  Bella DePaulo is so passionate and has prompted me to think about some things I previously took for granted.  The one that has stood out to me the most is the issue of rights and benefits for people not in a romantic relationship, especially marriage.  We have a long way to go still, but great progress has been made in the area of gay marriage.  However, what about people who aren't partnered?  Shouldn't they be able to add a close friend to their health insurance?  Or what about those in an opposite-sex domestic partnership?  At my place of employment, same-sex domestic partners can access benefits, but opposite-sex domestic partners cannot.  Sure, opposite-sex couples are allowed to get married.  But what if they aren't ready for that, or can't afford it? 

I am pro-marriage equality, but for the past few years I've been convinced that I would never end up tying the knot. It just wasn't important to me and I think a lot of the traditions are sexist: Why does the woman have to wait for the man to propose?  I know so many women who waited around for their partners for years.  Why isn't it socially acceptable and normal for women to do the asking if marriage is their desire?  And then there are the engagement rings.  I refuse to wear one unless my fiance does.  I am not a piece of property, I am not a prize (well, no more than he is).  Either we both wear engagement rings, or we both go ringless until the wedding day.

Anyway, you get my point.  Marriage was never something I "needed."  It was never a life goal, and I'd never break up with my partner for not wanting to get married.  We'd probably just continue living together indefinitely, which is perfectly acceptable to me.

BUT (yes, there is a but), since we started sharing a residence two months ago, I've been noticing all these little things that would just be easier if we were married.  For example, he doesn't have health insurance.  I've checked and double checked, but there's no way to add him to my policy unless we get married or are over 62, and that is a looooong way off. 

Then there is the matter of grocery shopping.  How do we split the bills?  Do I pay for my stuff, and he pays for his?  Or do we just divide it down the middle?  Sometimes we eat totally different things (I'm vegetarian and he is not), but sometimes we cook for each other.  What then?  Or what about the housewarming gift cards we got from my parents that were to both of us?  How do we keep track of ownership of that stuff?  So far whenever we want something for the house, one of us buys it so we know who it belongs to in the event of a breakup.  If we were married this stuff wouldn't matter so much because everything would be "ours." 

On top of these issues, there are the smaller ones that sneak up on me and make my heart twinge a little.  Last weekend was F's nephew's birthday party, and we signed the card "Uncle F and AMT."  A little part of me was sad that I wasn't "Auntie AMT."  And even though F's family has been nothing but kind and welcoming to me, I still feel like an outsider.  I like his family so much and sometimes wish I belonged in a way that only a spouse can. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finding pretty in the ugly

I feel like I have been busy lately but that isn't entirely the case.  Mostly I just feel sluggish and unmotivated.  We are all unpacked in the new house, but I think I need a few weeks of normal routine-stuff under my belt to feel back in balance.  I also have been annoyed by not enough knitting time.  I haven't been able to go to knitting group this quarter and I sorely miss it. 

A couple of weeks ago I was violently ill for a night.  It was not pretty.  Not only was the hours of puking miserable, but I felt so out of control and anxious.  I don't know how to explain it other than to say, part of being sick was not the sickness itself, it was the frustration and anger at not feeling well and not knowing when I was going to feel better.

Fortunately it lasted only about 12 hours or so, but F got to witness the whole ugly mess.  I was kind of horrified at myself when it was all over.  One of the things that freaks me out about cohabitation and marriage are that you get to see ALL sides of your partner, not just the fun ones.  And then, somehow, despite the morning breath or the puking or having the death flu, you are supposed to still want to be intimate.  How does that work?  Well, I am figuring it out.  I am learning that if you love someone enough, you want to be a part of their world, with all the good, bad, fun, not fun, ugly, whatever.  And hopefully they feel the same way about you. 

In the morning I apologized, saying "I didn't want my boyfriend to see me like that."  His reply: "I'm more than your boyfriend.  I'm your SO."  Somehow, one of my most un-beautiful moments evolved into us being closer than ever.  I guess stuff like this is what it's all about.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The agnostic gives Easter a makeover

I seem to be getting worked up over things lately.  Maybe because I feel more like an adult now that I have a house (even though it's rented).  Maybe because of my advocacy training in grad school. 

Anyway.  Easter is about to change in my family. 

Old Easter:  Brunch at my mom's with my dad, two step-dads, and brothers.  Dinner at my grandma's with everyone, minus my dad & step-dad, plus some extended relatives.  My dad was never invited to dinner because Great-Uncle J attended, and he doesn't like gay people. (He actually walked out of my birthday party ~10 years ago because my dad & step-dad were there.)

New Easter V.1: No brunch because my mom is taking over Easter dinner since Grandma is getting older. 

This means 2 things:

1. I don't get to see my dad on Easter because there's no brunch.

2. I suggested to my mom, since it is at her house this year, that she invite my dad AND Uncle J, and if Uncle J doesn't want to come, that's his problem.  He is the one with the issue, so what right does he have to make it so I can't have Easter with my dad?  Mom did not like this idea, since it is important to Grandma to see Uncle J (who is Grandma's brother).

Okay.  I decided that I am not going to attend dinner, because I do not condone this discrimination.  My mom and dad, even though they are divorced, are still friends and happy to spend holidays together.  This is unusual and special, and yet some distant uncle is making it so this can't happen.  WTF, I say. 

New Easter, V.2: F and I are going to have Easter brunch at our house!  I invited everyone, including all my parents, grandparents, and Uncle J.  Here is what I said to him:

I have been sad that I have been unable to spend certain holidays with both you and my dad in the past, and it would mean a lot to me if we could all be together from this point forward.   I intend to make my home a positive and welcoming place for all of my family.
I doubt anything will change, but at least he will know how I feel.  We are not close, and so I'm not sure if he sees it from my perspective of not being able to spend holidays with my dad.  I think the fact that I'm not tip-toeing around this any longer, trying to keep the peace, will send a powerful message to my family even if he disregards the invitation.  
My mom pointed out that he and Grandma aren't going to be around forever.  True, but neither am I, and neither are my parents.  I want to spend time with them while they are still here and healthy.  If I let Uncle J pass away without at least trying, then I will most certainly regret it. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The early days

F and I moved in together over a week ago, and things are getting better every day.  I have been spending every spare moment unpacking, desperate to get the house in some sort of liveable order.  I hate moving down to the core of my being, and it upsets me greatly not to have a home where I feel comfortable and safe.  Therefore, my goal is to have everything put away ASAP.

Overall, it is going well.  Sometimes there are blips though.  I have moments where I become frustrated and overwhelmed and unable to organize for one more minute.  Luckily F has been very helpful in those situations, as he is able to make an assessment and give me direction and motivation.  Last night I was really hoping to get the upstairs finished (two of the extra rooms are mine, while he gets reign of an office downstairs and the garage).  I was unsuccessful, but I finished most of the kitchen instead.  Now it will be much easier to cook, which is always a plus.

Mostly, things just don't feel normal yet.  Not only has my home changed, but our relationship is changing.  None of old rules apply, and we are still working on making the new rules.  Weird things happen.  For example, sometimes after we both have spent the entire day in the house, with me unpacking and him working (he works from home), I find myself desiring to actually spend time connecting with him, despite being "together" for hours.  And when he has to work late into the night and I have to go to bed so I can go to my 8AM job, it's hard not having that.  Who would have thought?  The woman who savors her alone time like coffee ice cream has become all domesticated!  On Saturday night, on the way to meet friends for drinks, I had to stop at Fred Meyer to buy towels.  TOWELS?  On a Saturday night?  Huh?

Anyway, it's good, this whole living together business.  I find small moments to savor instead of blocking out huge chunks of boyfriend time.  It is the best thing in the world when he makes me dinner.  Doing my own activities and then take a quick break for a hug and a kiss and a little chat and then going back to whatever I was doing is great.  And the moments sleeping at night, where we can just be together, are something that I look forward to.  No matter how hectic the day is, even if I have school until late, I know at least I'll see him at the end of it all.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 in review

January: Things really started to go downhill with my non-boyfriend (NBF).  We went through yet another breakup, and this time I (mistakenly) thought it was for real.  I also started to get my things in order to apply for grad school.

February: On Valentine's Day the NBF and I hadn't talked for a couple of weeks, and I woke up to discover my guinea pig had passed away.  She had been sick all weekend so it wasn't exactly a surprise, but I was pretty sad.  Happy Valentine's Day to me.  A few days later, NBF contacted me again.  We resumed a very shaky relationship, but he rarely had time to see me.  He had filled the hole I left in his life with so many activities that it was almost impossible for us to see each other.

March: More of the same with NBF, but around this time I had at least picked myself up enough to start dating again.  However, even though I didn't know if I was ready for a boyfriend, I did want to meet someone I could have a connection with.  Submitted grad school applications. 

April: Grad school interviews at the end of the month.  I got interviews at both schools I applied to!  Dating continued, and I discovered that I just wasn't into the geeky software guys that are so common in these parts.  They were all super nice, but I needed someone with a little more...je ne sais quoi, comprenez-vous?

May: Was accepted at my first choice school!  I was rejected by my last-choice, but that's ok because I don't think it would have been a good fit.  Also went on an epic first date with a guy named H.  He was in the process of moving here, but had to go back home for a while to tie up loose ends and travel around and see people.  We kept in contact online for the rest of the month.

June:  H came back 6 weeks later for the solstice, and we dated for another 6 weeks in person only to realize we were not very compatible after all.  He was very pushy about things that I was uncomfortable with, such as PDAs.  I also realized that he and I had very different ideas of fun.  He wanted to sit around on my couch or in a bar all the time.  If I wanted to do something else I'd have to plan it.  He also didn't have a job and was couch surfing since he'd just moved and after a few weeks that grew old.  I think he would have moved in with me if I'd let him.  Oh, and all he did during the day was hang out in parks and coffee shops! 

July:  I kept dating H into July.  At that point I pretty much knew it wasn't going to work out, but I had to see it through to the end just to be sure.  Then one night during a live theater performance he tickled me and wouldn't stop.  That was it, he was out.  Around the same time I had the asthma incident with F and I knew that was going to turn into something real.

August: F and I made it official on the first.  We finished out the summer by going on a weekend road trip and getting to know each other as partners again after 10 years of being just friends.  Had my final conversation with NBF early in the month.  Haven't heard from him since. 

September: I started grad school!  It was a big adjustment for sure, but I loved my classes so that made it easier.

October:  F and I turned 29 and had birthday dinners with all our family and friends.

November: I continued to adjust to the big changes in my life. 

December: I finished up my first quarter with a 3.6, F and I took our first trip together and I bought a car.  We spent Christmas with each other's families and our relationship just kept getting better and better.