Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts

slightly dirty sweaters

I was watching an old woman knitting on the subway today, when suddenly she dropped her yarn. It rolled a good five feet, unravelling on the dirty floor of the train; everyone's eyes were drawn to the bright red ball.

Someone nearby handed the yarn back to her. She nodded a thank you, and brushed it off before taking back up her knitting needles.

She couldn't possibly have gotten all the filth of the subway car off of it. The dust and debris will be woven into whatever sweater or scarf she was making. Something no less sweet for the accident suffered during its creation.

It is impossible to always give love that is pure and untainted with mistakes or misapplied intention. Slightly dirty sweaters still keep us warm, though.

some of what counts

There are only so many times in life that someone will see who you really are and love you for it. Only so many times you will be known in the way that you want to be.

There are only so many times that someone will thank you, deeply and genuinely, for something difficult you did. Only so many times you will feel appreciated for what is, in fact, really hard work.

The poignance of this rarity hit me like a wave Sunday night as I was walking home. I'd had two such moments that day. One in which I was seen, and one in which I was thanked. Quiet, private moments with people I've gotten to know a little bit, and respect. It didn't hit me until I was off the train and almost back to my apartment how lucky I was.

Life is short. Moments like this are finite. Connections between open-hearted, communicative people who will see and appreciate one another are few and precious.

When you find someone like this, hang on to them for as long as you can. Find ways to give back to them what they've given to you.

Trust me: the further you get along this road, the more you will realize that this, more than anything, is some of what counts most.



a potential cure for jealousy

I've fangirled for The School of Life before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. I don't think the importance of emotional intelligence, humility, and self-awareness (all of which SOL triumphs), can be overstated. And this video about flirting is a surprising new favorite.

Historically speaking, I've been a terribly jealous partner. In 99/100 cases (how sad to think there could have been that many!), the jealousy had less to do with feeling genuinely threatened by an interloper than with facing my own insecurities; I am nothing if not well-versed in and thoroughly convinced of my inadequacies.

Watching a partner get chatted up by someone (that I perceive as) more accomplished, more successful, more this or more that - has always been an exquisite form of torture. He likes her more than me. He relates to her more than me. They have more in common. I'm not worthy, and she's helping to make that clear to him. 

Lovely, I know.

Anyway, this video takes the concept of flirting and makes something really sweet out of it.



I love the idea of a "redistribution" of confidence. I love the idea of my boyfriend - of anyone I care about - getting a harmless dose of it. Feeling just a bit more handsome, or walking just a bit taller after a throwaway conversation with a member of the opposite sex.

It's almost comical how quickly this philosophy of flirting dissolved at least one gnarly arm of my own green eyed monster.

ever being anything

I want you too much, he said, to just keep you a little while. And then he set me free.

And I said nothing, because I would not argue for my own captivity. I said nothing, but this is what thought:

How much time would be enough with me? On what clock does "enough" chime, anyway?

Must you see my hair turn white, my skin grow ashen? Or perhaps that's too much time? Would the heavy hips and wrinkled smile of middle age satisfy you instead?

How about just five years? Is five years adequate? Do you think you could come to hate my quirks and bad habits by then? Be tired of my selfishness and temper?

Maybe you only need a year. Three hundred sixty-five days of my life tied to yours, to make you feel you'd gotten your money's worth. Your return on investment. Because why else bother, right? Something to show for it, or nothing at all?

What if I said, you can fit that year in a weekend, if you do it right. What if I said, you can know someone completely, in the ways that matter anyway, just by noticing what makes them laugh? By letting them show you how to touch them. By accepting their vulnerability. 

What if I said the whole spirit of love can be contained in a single kiss? And that fifty of them is a chest of riches you could choose to be happy with, if you wanted. Who stands in a warm, soft rain, and demands of the sky a storm? Especially when the rain feels so good. 

You can't keep anything in this world. Nothing lasts. Some moments are just moments. Others can span years, if you archive them properly. I'll collect what I can and be grateful for it. 

That's what I thought, when a little of me wasn't enough.

boring explainer is boring

Hallo.

The only thing more annoying than a nobody blogger announcing an impending hiatus is a nobody blogger feeling she needs to explain a return from one. And I had no intention of doing so, because I'm not so arrogant to assume anyone notices or cares--but a few people have knocked gently on the door to make sure I'm okay here in my room.

I'm okay here in my room.

Few things going on, as to why I've hardly blogged the past month. Just gonna come right out with them, as straightforwardly as possible.

1) I was so, so, so hurt and disappointed by the lackluster response to the fundraiser I posted about. Other than, randomly, one Instagrammer I had just started following, the only readers who contributed are also actual, real-life friends of mine. That's it. No one else. And...I've been doing this a long time. Some of you have been reading me for years. I've always put my very best into this blog. Thoughtful, considered writing. Heartfelt, deeply personal sentiments. Totally free. I never once asked for anything in return, until the dance marathon came up. I guess I expected people would chip in $10, as thanks. Expectation is a killer.

Whether or not my disappointment and sadness was justified--well, that's subjective. Whether or not I had a right to expect financial reciprocation--that's a complicated question with lots of variables. But it doesn't even matter. It's what happened. And that was it for me. I was like, Fuck this. Why am I putting so much effort and honesty and feeling out there for these people. Yep, you guys became a "these people" to me. I was really, really bummed. After a clumsy attempt to get my feelings out, I decided to take a break from blogging and think about how--if at all--I wanted to come back to it. One thing I knew for sure is that I would return to withholding all information about my work life. I decided not to share what I'd been working on since last fall--the business I'd been working on. That to me is the most personal and vulnerable information, and always has been. Writing about love, depression, my relationships? No problem. That comes easy. But opening myself up to judgment about matters career and financial? Terrifying. So, as a way to get a boundary back up that would make me feel better about things, I took it off the table.

I'm not "mad" anymore. I've let it go. And I get it. You don't really know me. And you certainly don't owe me thanks, or a penny in thanks. But that's part of why I've been absent.

2) The situation with Terence has been difficult, and I just never know where to draw the line in talking about it. We get along...until we don't anymore. And while writing has always been such an important source of therapy for me, I still want to respect the rights and privacy of those in my stories. Terence and I made the decision years ago to be public with our relationship. We linked up social media accounts, tagged and tweeted at one another. And though fairly quickly down that road I realized that probably wasn't the best idea, it was important (read: really fun) to him so I kept going with it. But now the cat can't be put back in the bag. His friends and family and work associates and potential employers can get here, if they so desire, in a matter of a few clicks. And Terence asked me when we broke up to be considerate of that. So I've tried to. Even when I was in a state of bewildering anger and hurt, I refrained from writing posts about him and what's going on. Now we're down to final weeks, and I've moved on so much in my heart that there really isn't much left to say. But that's part of why I've been quiet, too.

3) I just don't know how public I want to be with my personal life anymore. Not just for my sake, but for the sake of others. For one thing, if I was dating a guy and found out he had a tell-all blog? Oh hell no. I'd run. Unless he was amazing, and then maybe I'd say, Hey, I like you...but keep me off your damn blog. 

And the fact is that in the past few months, I have met some guys. I've had some nice experiences. Not exactly dates, but interactions that have made me feel like, Okay. I can do this again. Heart bruised, but not destroyed. I know how to meet and mingle and flirt and feel those things again. There's someone right now, too, sort of. I don't know what it is, but it is a thing. And it's nice.

And these are all things I once would have told you about in a heartbeat--but the circumstances with Terence are so bizarre, and I'm trying to tread lightly with that. And Elliequent's boundaries are, if not necessarily evolving, at least undergoing deep consideration right now.

I'll probably keep sharing about my romantic life, but with absolutely no real names. No specifics. No social media references. Anonymous Person of Significance type thing. Because while I can decide for myself to be open to derision, scorn, or stalking--that's not my decision to make for anyone else.

So, again, figuring all of this out--that's part of why I haven't blogged.

4) There's also my work life. And yes, now I have an actual work life. I got a job. Quite recently. It's part time, and I'm looking for a second job. But my boss? Extremely private. The very nature of his work demands it, actually. So that's a non-starter. I can't share anything about it, other than I work in Beverly Hills and am thrilled to have something to think about all day other than my damn self and problems.

Which of course raises the question Wait wut? I thought you were starting a business?

Well, I was. And I got right to the point of pushing through the door and announcing it...when I realized I don't want to do it. It's a great idea--that I stand by. But the work itself? Mind-numbingly tedious and isolating. I'd be alone, all day, every day, doing the most mindless, un-stimulating actions ever. It would be toxic for my mental heath. It has been toxic. I've desperately needed to get out of the house and just go somewhere every day, be around others, be part of something, be focused on something outside of myself--for YEARS. The business I'd planned on dedicating myself to would do exactly what Rainy Day Templates did: make me a shut-in workaholic. It's just not the right path.

That's what's going on. Lots of change, lots of indecision about my blog's purpose and direction. I expect I'll keep at it, because it does make me happy to write. I just need some of the dust to settle, I need a little more time to get some distance from my last relationship, I need to feel established enough in my job(s) to feel that I can spare the time for blogging again. In the meantime, you can always find me chatting it up on Instagram.

I'm sorry if anything I said up there made you feel bad. I'm nothing if not honest, though. It's why you love me, maybe? If you still do? Hope so. I still love you.

winning strategy

You brought wrath to me today, a cloud of fire that rained acid hatred on my skin. I'm still smoking. (The dog is confused, thinks someone barbecued, can't find the meat.)

And the thing I gave you in return was even more enraging than had I shot back flaming arrows of my own. The thing I gave you in return--calm--infuriated you further. I don't know what to say about that. I'm sorry? I'm not.

You said, .....
You said, .....
You said, .....

And I am tired, so tired, of helping you protect the picture that you hold of yourself.

But enough about you. Today in spite of your spite, I felt unafraid to be alive for the first time in a long time. For the first time in a long time, if someone had offered to shut off the lights, I would have said--

Maybe wait? Maybe leave them on for now? I'm okay with them on. Thank you.

That is the spark I need to nurture. A tiny flame I will shelter with my whole being. I will curl myself around it and give it all the breath in my lungs. Which is why I have none to spare for spitting acid.

behind it all

I have some thoughts to share that are pretty high up on the vulnerability scale. Things about myself I don't love at all, and am working on. But I'm going to share them anyway, because I also had an idea that makes me happy--or at least more at peace--about those things. The idea is a visual concept, a really simple metaphor I guess, and it might be useful to someone else, perhaps? I don't know. But here goes. First I have to establish some context. Okay a lot of context...

Do you remember my friend Cameron? I sometimes called him Wally, which became his nickname after a hilarious autocorrect fail. He and I were extremely close, and we spent a great deal of time together between 2010 and 2013, before he moved to Texas. We met around the time of my divorce--he was a neighbor in the building where Mike and I lived before we split up. I think the last time I mentioned Cameron was on Instagram. I believe it was a post showing a bounty of food and treats he'd brought over to me when he came for a visit. At the time I had just broken my foot. I wasn't very mobile and I was still in some occasional pain.

Well, Cameron and I broke up immediately after that visit. And "broke up" is not typically a phrase you use when discussing the end of a friendship, but for Cameron and I, it's really the only way to put it. And anyone that knows us, knows that too. We were tight. Really, really tight. Absolutely best friends. We'd spend hours upon hours together only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. We texted constantly. He was my confidant and my partner in crime (literally sometimes). When I went out of town, it was he who'd watch Chaucer - sometimes for months on end. When my husband insinuated to me that he was gay (fuck it, it's been six years, statute of limitations has been well bulldozed past as far as I'm concerned...plus he got remarried to a woman he was dating while he was still married to me), it was to Cameron I turned, devastated. When I got into an abusive relationship in Arizona, it was Cameron who got in his car and drove, overnight, to come rescue me. Cameron introduced me to gay bars, some of which became our go-to hangouts. I spent so much time in the gay bars of Silverlake and Hollywood that to this day, they are more comfortable to me than straight bars.

But Cameron and I had our problems. We would fight sometimes. Absolute ragers. We are both highly opinionated people who are unafraid to get angry. And having spent so much time together, having gotten so close, we had a lot of emotion invested in our friendship. That's a beautiful thing but it can make for a powder keg, too.

The reason Cameron and I broke up was simple: he wanted me to accompany him to the wedding of a pair of friends of his up in SF. I'd planned on going with him for months...but then I broke my foot. Long story short, we disagreed on how easy or comfortable it would be for me to go. I didn't want to. I was afraid of being away from home, injured and uninsured. He really wanted me to. Really, really. It was a gay wedding, one of his very best friends, and it meant a lot to him for me to come. He promised he'd take the utmost care with my foot. That he'd rent a damn wheelchair if need be. That we could go as slow as I needed. He saw that I was able to get about with crutches and a scooter and didn't see the difference between limping around in LA and limping around SF.

Well, we argued. And argued. And finally I just had enough. I felt completely justified in telling him to take a flying leap.

Oh, and conveniently? I had just started dating Terence. What the fuck did I need a stubborn, demanding jerk like Cameron around for when I had this amazing, loving, gorgeous new guy to fawn all over me??

Yeeeeaaaah.

I ripped Cameron out of my life ruthlessly. I wrote him a scathing letter and then blocked his email. Blocked his phone number. Blocked him on social media. To this day I don't know what came over me. Why I reacted with so much anger. Why I felt it was okay to obliterate from my life one of the few, loving constants in it. Sure we had some issues, sure there were things we could have worked on in our friendship, but really Ellie? Blocking him, like a cold-blooded bitch?

Time went by. Regret is like quick sand. You don't even know you're standing in it at first, and then you're suddenly sinking deeper and deeper and deeper. And the one person who could pull me out? Throw me a branch and haul me to shore? Well, I'd made myself invisible to him, and him to me. Pride. Ego. Shame. I assumed he hated my guts, too. And I buried my sadness underneath the new joy that was Terence.

Can you see where this is going? I told you--not proud of this side of me. The side that claims her friends are her family and then sometimes proceeds to treat them like dogshit.

To my credit, I waited months. Of course I'm talking about how long I waited until after Terence and I broke up to reach out to Cameron, tail between my legs. Because of course I would do that. Of course I would be so predictably basic. Of course I would wait until MY hour of need to invite him back into my life, knowing nothing whatsoever about the hours of need he may have had in the interim.

The letter I wrote was simple and short. I'm sorry. I was wrong. You were a wonderful friend to me. I think of you often and hope you are well. 

He answered. And so proceeded a month or so of polite back-and-forthing while he, understandably, got his bearings on the roller coaster that is Ellie's emotional regulation and decided that yeah, sure, he'd give it another shot.

Fast forward to last week. Those of you who follow me on IG maybe saw my post of him, though I don't know how many of you understood the import. I sort of quietly stopped talking about him after our fight, so maybe you assumed we'd just fallen out of touch? I dunno. Anyway, he came to LA last week, for work. And I spent three glorious nights with him.

I won't go on and on about what it meant to me to see him again, because if you've read this far you already get it. But it was like my entire world shifted back onto its proper axis. Cameron is one of the great loves of my life and talking to him again? Laughing and sharing and catching up and crying and forgiving and drinking and watching Netflix and getting Nutella and cookies at 2 am from the grocery store? Best thing that's happened to me in months.

Of course, he still lives in Texas. He comes to LA often but Houston is his home. And anyone that's read my blog for any length of time knows that I have other very close friends who live either in AZ or in other cities in California. Bottom line: my nearest and dearest are not very near to me at all. I see them a few times a year. Mason I see maybe once a year.  And this is very, very difficult for me.

How difficult? Well, sometimes I lose my ever-loving mind about it. Sometimes I get so down, so unbelievably depressed and angry that my friends are elsewhere, that rather than turn to them I turn on them. I grow incredibly demanding and unforgiving. Unforgiving that they have the audacity to live elsewhere and have their own lives. Jobs. Partners. Hobbies. Sometimes? These bastards? They group text without me. Sometimes they even travel without me. Together. They take trips without me. Can you believe it?? Don't they know how much I need them? How much I need to be included? How much love I need, because I suffer from depression and have been through some hell?

DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND THEIR OBLIGATION TO MAKE ME HAPPY??!

K. So. Has the picture formed sufficiently, of how needy a friend I can be? And let me freeze right here to disclaim, with utmost confidence, that any one of my close friends would be the first to tell you that I am also fiercely loyal, loving, selfless, fun as fuck, and awesome. They would tell you that they adore me with their whole hearts, and they would mean it. I know this, because every time they pick up on the fact that my self-esteem is in the shitter, they swoop in and reassure me with the most unbelievable love and support, you'd melt to hear. It's real, true love, and I know it. Which is why I want more of it, more often than I can reasonably have, from people that live states away and are damn busy. And the last thing I'll say in my defense is that I am NOT the kind of "friend" who only ever cares about her shit, and never participates in the details of other lives. That's kind of the whole problem. I want so much to participate in my friends lives, to know what they're doing, their challenges and triumphs, how I can support them, etc. But again. Jobs. Partners. Hobbies. State lines.

Recently I took a really bad dive, emotionally. The details don't matter; suffice to say I was making plans and not for a vacation. I just felt really, really alone. I reached out to my friends with a mixture of pleading, punishing anger (why don't you call more often! you know I depend on you!), fear, and self-nihilation, and I ended up having one of the hardest but most necessary conversations of my life, with Mason. In a nutshell he told me I could have every last breath of his love and friendship, but that if things with me were so bad that not hearing from my friends was enough to make me suicidal...then no amount of love and friendship would matter. What I needed was a reframe, in the head and the heart. He then said a series of things that did fix me, as far as I was concerned, because my T-Rex brain was only focused on getting the love I needed THEN not the healing I need OVERALL...but the first bit was what was really important. Talk about your tough love.

I'm still thinking about all of this, still trying to figure out where the truth is. Because while I know that no one but me is responsible for my happiness, I think that fully needing and loving another is part of what makes us richly human. For a much better, clearer articulation of what I mean by this, see The Moral Bucket List, a NYT article by David Brooks that I can't stop thinking about.

And now I've come full circle. I started by mentioning that I'd had an idea maybe worth sharing. It's this:

Once, at Disneyland, I took a tour of the animation studios. I remember being fascinated by animation cels, and how they were created. An artist would paint on a stack of clear cellulose sheets; depending on whether what was being drawn was part of the background or the action, he would either lift the stack of sheets or lower them. So for example, if the animation called for a background of trees, the sheet painted with those trees would stay, stationary and constant, under the layer upon which characters would run, or jump.

I realized my life is like that. No matter what I'm coloring in on the top sheet, whether it's a new job or a new home or a new boyfriend, whether it's something scary and ugly I'm going through or something thrilling and fun--underneath it all is my same background. Friends I've had for years, decades in some cases. They're there, behind it all. And they're not going anywhere, as long as I don't erase them. They're sturdy and strong and they are in my life, always. No matter what else isn't.

It's a thought I can hold onto, to make the lonelier times less lonely.

I'm not very good at opening up to new people, which is precisely what I need to do in order to have more close friends locally. Especially now that Kerry and Ross are gone. I try, in small bits. See: Krista, who is truly a lovely, loving person. It takes me a while, but I do open up in a real way, eventually. I'm working on it.

Action and background. A richer, more complete picture. I'm working on it.

since we finished

Back to back beach days this long weekend. Venice today and Manhattan Beach yesterday. Yep, we spent Valentine's Day together. We just sort of tacitly agreed to, without acknowledging the occasion.

"Weather's supposed to be incredible Sunday. Want to go to Laguna or something?"

"Hell yes. That sounds wonderful." For one thing, if I don't make a point of getting out of downtown, well, I don't get out of downtown. For another, we still have fun together. That's undeniable. And while having fun with your ex might be a bad idea, as far as I know it's still legal.

Sunday came and we got a late start, ending up in Manhattan Beach instead. We found street parking a few blocks above the water just as the sun began to hang. Terence waved me ahead, indulgent and smiling, shouldering a tote stuffed with hoodies we'd be glad for later. I bounded down to the pier, conscious as always of the crinkly feel of the bones in my left foot. It broke, it healed; I swear it still crunches, though. A small bank of photographers and lovers--and lover-photographers--had staked out spots along the shoreline and were firing off shot after shot of the waves crashing against the dock. I crouched down out of the way, a bit to the side. I'd come later than everyone else. Prime real estate wasn't mine to claim today.

The next five minutes felt solemn. I grinned at a white-haired woman who glanced my way, carefully backtracking in the sand to get a better view. Her camera had a massive, glossy black lens that I could see myself in when she faced me. "This light, right?" I shook my head to indicate amazement, awe. Respect, too, as I suspected this was her turf. But she just gave me a tight-lipped nod. No chatting at Manhattan Pier at sunset. Got it.

When I'd gotten my fill of the pier, I joined Terence at the water's edge. We watched children scramble in the sand, screaming as the foamy waves caught their ankles. I tried to angle them out of the photos I took, but there were too many. Tiny silhouettes, drunk with sunshine and play. We watched the horizon bloom and took pictures that we didn't show one another. We sent texts to friends and family that we didn't share. I noticed him writing a poem in his phone's notepad; I didn't ask to read it. But after we'd rinsed the sand off our feet, we strolled the length of the pier arm in arm and felt as companionable and relaxed as every other couple we passed.

A lone surfer bobbed on mild, rolling waves near the pier's south side. Mostly he floated, paddling into or against the waves as necessary to maintain his position. But every tenth wave or so, the gathering swell apparently promised to deliver the momentum he needed, and he worked his board alongside it. Nothing much doing, though. He just sort of coasted inland a bit, then paddled back out again. Later than night, long after Terence had fallen asleep and I couldn't, I followed a couple of surfing accounts on Instagram. An entirely foreign world that fascinates me. The crush and curl of the wave just before it collapses. The fearlessness and balance. The lush, sunny, aquamarine cool of it all.

The sun died spectacularly. Lovers paired up along the railing took selfies, giggling as they adjusted themselves to frame the streaks of pink and blue over their shoulders. Other just clung to one another and watched. We did a little of both. I curled my fingers into a heart shape, but when Terence tried to snap a photo of the sunset behind them, I couldn't get my pinkies lifted the right away, and my heart was squat and broken. A job for Photoshop and a metaphor I won't touch. When we switched places, on the other hand, Terence's heart was full and perfect. Oh, did you believe me when I said I wouldn't touch that metaphor?

We got dinner on a quiet stretch a few blocks from the crowded boardwalk. Oversized meatballs with pomodoro sauce and micro basil; ahi tuna wontons with wasabi crema. I ordered a cider and Terence had wine. We teetered back into the night full and tipsy and dangerously happy. We made a dumb Vine video that had us in stitches. We put on our sweatshirts and pulled the hoods up for one another. We got ice cream and a frosted cookie the size of Terence's hand. We laughed and bickered and window-shopped our way back to the pier, now fogged over and cold. At the end of it, we huddled and spoke in hushed tones, honoring the mood or the moment or maybe just not daring to be loud in our joy. We gazed out at the offing and wondered about the deep, dark water. We braced ourselves for the intermittent shuddering of the dock as thunderous waves smashed into it. It was the closest we've been to where we started, since we finished.

We stalled going home, but eventually we did. And when we woke up, since Terence had the day off and I myself am on hold for several weeks while a piece of equipment I need is customized (I will explain soon, I prooooomise), we decided to go do it again.

I checked: definitely not illegal.




jostles and shouts

Do you ever feel invisible? That no matter how many times you politely clear your throat and repeat yourself (louder this time, come on now), it just doesn't matter, because there are so many others jostling and shouting to be seen, heard, and felt themselves? And please, don't embarrass yourself with that clunky, outdated megaphone. They don't even use megaphones anymore. They've got this incredible new technology--all they do is think some ones and zeros, and everyone they've ever known shoots a thumbs-up in the air while elsewhere, a dollar plunks into their bank account. You should probably just take a seat. Maybe if there's a lull in the action we can sneak you in for a few seconds, no promises though.

Only there's never a lull. There's just an endless flow of jostles and shouts. Good luck.

---

Last night there was a street festival of sorts downtown. Part of the effort to revitalize Broadway, an erstwhile vibrant theater row, now populated by cheap electronic stores, quinceanera shops, and taquerias. It was a free event and drew thousands. Music, cultural exhibits, art, performers, food trucks, a Ferris Wheel, and a Silent Disco. Yep, that's right. My favorite dedicated dance floor, the irresistible black hole of every Bonnaroo, and the bane of my bladder (if you leave to pee you have to wait in line all over again): Silent Disco.

I didn't know about the event at all until the day of, when Krista mentioned having trouble getting a Lyft due to road closures, and I didn't know they had a Silent Disco until I literally walked into it. I'd been texting updates to Terence (doing a show in Hollywood) and Krista (chilling at home with hurting knees), alternately threatening to leave because I felt lonely and begging them to hurry up and join me. Then I stumbled into the crowd of headphone-bedecked revelers and forgot all about my friends. Not really, but sort of. Silent Disco is my jam.

Long story short, I couldn't lure Krista off her couch but Terence got back downtown pretty quickly after his gig. We stayed an hour and a half and were starving, sweaty messes by the time we left. It was so much goddamn fun. Terence and I are inching ever closer to severance--emotional, geographical, financial--and the ways in which we detach a little more each day are heartbreaking...but holy shit do we still love listening to music together. It feels like something to hold on to, while it's there. Something still warm in an otherwise cold room.

Later we went to Casey's, to watch the band of a guy who lives in our building--someone we've exchanged a year's worth of elevator chat with. It was unexpectedly fun; a few other people from the building were there, and I socialized more than I have in a while. Those muscles atrophy fast for me. I get lazy about expanding past my close circle of friends. Scared, too.

Anyway, it was a good time. I made people laugh. My sneakers were complimented. Someone asked to take a picture with me. Another person asked to see me again. (Getting hit on with Terence next to me was a weird situation but to his credit he was the picture of grace and humor and we didn't come close to fighting about it, which, had the roles been reversed...)

---

News about Chaucer that is difficult to write. He's been limping for a couple of months now. The vets (we've seen three) suspect the onset of arthritis, which is unsurprising considering his age. He's coming up on nine--a little old for a mastiff.

Options include injections and, if they can pinpoint the place of the issue, laser therapy. We talked to him about it and his vote, quite emphatically I might add, is for lasers. In fact he talks about it all the time. He wants to know everything. "Can I shoot other dogs with the lasers?" "Do they lasers come out of my eyes or my paws or both?" "What about food? Can I cook burgers using the lasers?"

We tried to explain that's not how it works but he's so excited at the prospect we've let it go for now.

In all seriousness, it'll probably be (Adequan) injections. From what I understand those will give him immediate and noticeable results. The vet actually raved about them, says it turns elderly dogs into puppies, essentially.

Sounds good, as long as I still get to keep every single memory we've made on his way from puppy to my old boy.



---

I will--really and truly--have news to share very soon. Days away now. In the meantime, hello from The Land of WhatthehellamIdoing. I hope you are all healthy and happy and feeling more fearless than me.





ghost guy

Ghost guy doesn't want to be seen. Not really. He lurks in the hallway, rattling chains, muttering the occasional, non-commital moan, hoping to be glimpsed in your periphery. But by the time you turn to face him straight on, he's vanished.

Ghost guy wants to haunt your life but not actually be in it. He'd rather be a secret than a centerpiece. He fancies himself mysterious and elusive, but if you could hold him still long enough to lift the sheet you'd see there's not much underneath.

Ghost guy will tell you he's "complicated." He likes the subtly self-effacing sound of that, likes the way it unhooks him from the responsibility of trying harder--of being better.

Don't be scared of ghost guy. He isn't real. Turn on some lights and he'll float away.

the Heights of Estimation

The Heights of Estimation (where my heroes live) are treacherous and difficult to reach. Steep, craggy cliffs buffeted by icy, howling wind. A thorny, overgrown path that discourages visitors. I call on them only when I absolutely must - my heroes. Which is how I suspect they prefer it, anyway. Wizards behinds curtains keep the curtains drawn for good reason.

Still, I am a faithful supplicant. Bundled against the unbearable cold, I make regular treks to pay homage. I set my most lavish praise on their doorsteps and retreat quietly. I await response. Sometimes it comes; sometimes it doesn't. Either way they keep the homes I've built for them, high, high up in the clouds. The Heights of Estimation are rent stabilized.

Once in a while my mind plays tricks on me, and I think I see one of my heroes down here, in the sublunary world. But I know that can't be possible. Why would they consort among mere humans - flawed, pathetic, needful? What use is this place to them? They have everything they need in the lofty aeries I so lovingly furnished with my fulsome admiration, my undying devotion.

No - my heroes are quite comfortable where they are, I think. Safe. Elusive. Unassailable.

Unknowable, ultimately.

MMXV!

I dread the first of January. It always feels like the first day of a class I'm not sure I should be in. Didn't exactly ace the prerequisites. Don't know that I'm qualified to move ahead. So while everyone else is fresh-faced and eager, I'm chewing my pencil, avoiding eye contact. Sooner or later I'll be found out: I have no idea what I'm doing.

I've learned to keep my New Year's resolutions to myself. Once I share them, they start ticking like a countdown - how long until I fail? If I keep them quietly, the self-admonishments when I stumble can be quieter, too. It's okay. No one knows you dropped the ball. Just pick it back up. We'll keep this between us. 

If you're charging into the new year with guns blazing, right on. Pass me some of that confidence in a high five, will you? But if you've got to bluff it for a while until you get your bearings, come sit with me in the back. I've got extra pencils.

The last bits of my MMXV:
Some things never change. (Talking about my claw hand, of course.)
Supermoon viewing. I didn't blog these pictures before because this was the night I knew Terence and I were Donesville. They make me a little sad because of that, but seeing downtown all tiny off in the distance reminds me how insignificant my problems are.

Urban scrawl: so much prettier at night.
Clifton's has become my new favorite spot downtown. Cavernous, quirky, cozy, and chill. Plus they serve the best White Russian you've ever had. 
We agreed that either we both get facelifts or neither of us does.
An optimistic moment.
My thinking place. Three blocks up, one block over. I can sit beside the water and gaze at the city and just be blurry for a little while.
Terrible picture but a great moment, molesting balloons last night with Krista.

He said he's never veld this way before. Safari's just talk, though.
He always get a little pouty after he guts a toy and realizes he now has one less toy.
"You know I'm color blind, right? You can stop buying them in fancy colors."
Last night at The Belasco downtown. For the first time in my life I wore flat shoes on New Year's Eve, so I could actually dance. I'll never go back. 
Truly fantastic music, with multiple rooms to choose from. A+, would return next year for sure.
Big dogs need big trees.
Selfie queens to the end.


your next mission

This morning I posted my ski boots on Craigslist. They hadn't seen the light of a snowy day in a very, very long time. They say that if you don't use something for six months, you should get rid of it. I hadn't used these in six years. Plus they were a gift from my former in-laws, a pair of individuals with whom I have zero pleasant associations.

Terence hates getting rid of things. Just a few days ago I went on a clean/purge spree and he rescued a weird, small, mysterious halogen bulb from the trash where I'd tossed it. "What are you doing?" I said. "We don't even know what that goes to. It doesn't have a regular screw-in base."

"It must be from one of your lights," he said. "I'll return it to Samy's Camera. They can use it."

I gaped at him, trying to comprehend. "What are you talking about? You don't even know what it's for! You're going to drive forty five minutes and spend gas money returning what's probably a five dollar bulb? They're going to look at you like you're crazy." I didn't add what I wanted to, which was that if he's got forty-five minutes to spare, I know some baseboards that could use wiping. Physician heal thyself, or some shit.

But that's just another inverted mirror we see each other in. Hoarder vs. purger. Every time I start a new pile for Goodwill, Terence worries over my discards. "But what if you need that?" he'll say, watching me stuff a tutu into the bag. "What if you go to, I don't know, a tutu party?"

This exasperates me. He'd probably say it's optimism at the heart of that thought, but I see fear. Fear of letting go, of moving ahead into the unknown. Of saying goodbye to tangible, touchable remnants of good times. And anyway, a tutu party? Yeah, maybe. But packing for every random contingency in life sounds like a really cumbersome way to move through it.

He asked whether I'd made the Craigslist ad funny, as I usually try to do. (In college I posted a flyer in my apartment building's laundry room trying to unload a fish tank. "From non-smoking home, housed non-smoking fish." I got a call a day later from a guy in the complex who didn't want the fish tank, but wanted to meet the girl who wrote "non-smoking fish". I had a boyfriend, but the lesson stuck. Funny gets love.)

Not really, I texted back. Though I did include a crack about obviously not skiing much lately, so I sent him the link so he could read my post.

I like the intrigue of why you used them just once in 2009. :)

LOL. I should imply a torrid affair with a ski instructor. Brief but torrid.

Super spy on an Arctic mission. You held onto them awaiting your next mission.

I posted some other stuff, too. Pieces of another me that don't fit anymore. I'll get pennies on the dollar relative to what I paid for them, but their value lies in the memories they made me, anyway.

Sometimes it's hard to be honest with yourself about what you no longer need. Hard, but necessary.

ups and downs

Hello.

When I was in college, perhaps the most impactful thing I learned in my composition classes is that every piece of writing should be a gift. Whether a story, an essay, a poem, an article, a blog post - whatever the subject or form. A gift. Put enough into it that the reader feels like she's been given more than a string of nouns and verbs. Innovate. Be vulnerable. Entertain, enlighten, inspire. Try, anyway.

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had any gifts to give. It's a weird time, and I don't know how to write about it without sounding flat and dull and whiny. But the longer I stay away the unhappier I get. So at the risk of sounding flat and dull and whiny, I'll catch you up on the past few weeks in the hope that it will be like shedding a skin, dry and dead and colorless. Maybe there's something more vibrant underneath that just needs a little air.

Terence and I are still living together. It looks like we're going to ride out the lease. So that's June. Rent downtown has skyrocketed with the opening of a Whole Foods which is literally a three minute walk from our building. My old apartment? This tiny little space? It rents for over $2k now. I doubt I'll stay downtown when we move out. I'm thinking about Koreatown, or maybe Hollywood? Not sure. But right now, our loft is perfectly suited to our needs. Chaucer's, too.

We're getting along fine, for the most part. In some ways our relationship is better than it ever was before the breakup. We're more patient with one another. I think neither of us sees much use in arguing, or holding on to anger when we do argue (because we still do, occasionally.) What's the point? There's nothing to be won anymore. Whatever there was to be won has been lost, for good. And that sounds awfully nihilistic I know, but in practice it's actually rather liberating. Why resent him for being him, when soon enough he'll be gone from my life? I've let go of my expectations and am turning inward more or more, for the things I wanted from him but never got. Maybe that's what I should have done in the first place. I don't know.

Before he and Kerry moved to SF a few weeks ago, I tried to explain to Ross exactly what doesn't work about Terence and I. It's a wavelength thing, I said.

Yeah but what does that mean, he asked. He was arguing that every relationship eventually reaches a sort of staleness (though he didn't use that word). Doesn't everyone get sick of their partner eventually?

I used him and Kerry as an example. I don't know. Maybe a little? But underneath it, as long as the two people are on the same page, that gives them a sense of emotional intimacy. You guys are on the same page. I can see it every time I'm around you. The way you respond to things the same way. 

That's how I think of wavelength. When you're at a party, or in a bar or restaurant - anywhere public, with a mixed group of people. Someone says or does something, and you look up and catch your partner's eye because you know he's thinking the exact same thing. That's wavelength. It's gratifying and satisfying and, in a way, incredibly sexy. Terence and I? No wavelength. Tons of inside jokes, which I treasure. But not that organic emotional and intellectual chemistry.

Incidentally, Terence told me that on one of our last nights out with them, when he asked Ross how he and Kerry do it, Ross had said, We think of ourselves like it's us vs. the world. 

I think that's pretty amazing. It's on the the list of reasons I will miss them.

---

We had a final night out together, the four of us. Kerry had come back down only long enough to pack, and after an exhausting day of getting ready for the move the next morning, they joined us for dinner and drinks. It was supposed to be a wild last hurrah, but it never really got off the ground. The weirdness of Terence and I having broken up, the stress they were under about closing on a new house in SF - all of us were distracted and a little down. We tried, but we were bickery and short with one another. I could tell Kerry was already gone in her mind, and it was like looking at her across several zip codes, not a dinner table. But we have had so, so many fun times over the years that I was content, anyway.

They were so sweet and inclusive of Terence to the very end. Still referring to us as an "us", still inviting us up to SF to visit.

---

Part of the reason I haven't blogged is that I still spend time with Terence. We still go to shows, to dinner, watch movies, go shopping. He's still a huge part of my life, which doesn't seem to make sense if we're broken up. So writing about it feels strange, disingenuous, confusing to me, to him, to anyone reading. Are they together or not? What the hell?

We've had a hundred frank discussions about our relationship. You'd think that would help us find closure but sometimes it's more confusing than anything. One minute we'll agree that we're wrong for one another, the next we'll wonder whether anyone will ever be perfect for anyone. At what point are the good aspects of a relationship enough? At what point do you stop running - away from what's not enough, and toward what may never actually exist? Will I ever be completely happy, with anyone? The self-doubt is crippling.

I've been listening to Mother Mother a lot - kind of obsessed with them, in fact - and they have a song that pretty much captures exactly how all of this makes me feel:



---

We spent Thanksgiving together. Chaucer's nickname is Winks, so we called it Winksgiving. I brined and cooked my first turkey. It went well, except for getting confused about when to tent the breast. We did it backwards; instead of covering the bird with foil for the first half hour, we put the foil on after 30 minutes. I went for a run and while I was gone it suddenly dawned on me that we'd screwed up. I texted and called Terence frantically, but he was playing guitar and didn't hear his phone. When I got home fifteen minutes later, breathless and sweaty, I ran to the oven and yanked the door open. "We had it backwards!" I cried. "It's supposed to be covered for the first part of cooking!" We ripped the foil tent off the turkey and oh my god. It was like yanking a toupee off a bald man. The sides and back were a gorgeous golden brown, but the breast on top was pale and white. Fucking hilarious, but me being the oversensitive idiot I am, I started crying. I'd so wanted it to be perfect. Thanksgiving to me has strong associations with my mother; I'd felt close to her all day, thinking she'd be so proud of my cooking. Then here I go messing it up so badly. But it was fine. We were laughing about it within five minutes. And Chaucer was spoiled so rotten - giblets, dark meat, yams...

---

Some of my AZ friends came to town, and it was like breathing pure oxygen for four days straight. I was dizzy with joy. Such an unbelievable good time. We didn't even do much; dinner, drinks, screwing around in bars and hotel rooms. But it was a mixed group, some newer friends who don't know all the old mythology of our friendship - stories which go back twenty years, in some cases. So we spent the weekend telling those tales to them, to one another. Reliving, reconnecting, laughing endlessly. At one point we all were piled on a heap on the bed, drunk and high and still in our going-out clothes. I told the story of how I'd come to be friends with Mason - it is a doozy of a story - and everyone was just captivated, quiet and listening. Just sharing the genesis of that friendship made me feel more whole than I've felt in a long time. It's good to remember where you came from, especially when you're not sure where you are.

I spent most of the weekend with my friends alone, though Terence joined us for the last night. I can't deny what a blast that was, too. The place we'd intended to hit was closed for a private party, so we found ourselves marooned in Hollywood, out of our minds and not quite sure where to go. We ended up in a biker bar, randomly singing The Cure and joking around with tatted up strangers before finding a nearly-empty nightclub that we shut down, the dance floor happily to ourselves.

---

The business idea I have - I am still working at it. It's become a bit of a logistical nightmare. Lots more challenges than I foresaw, but I still believe in it. Trying to overcome one hurdle at a time and not get discouraged. Everyone I tell thinks there's huge potential in it so I'm not giving up yet.

I hate to be a tease about it but that's all I can say right now. Argh.

---

And here is what some of the past few weeks has looked like:























---

Riveting stuff, right? Woman Lives Life, Is Reminded it Features Ups and Downs.

See above, re: gifts.

reframe

One of the things I love about living downtown is how effectively the constant buzz and bustle of activity keep loneliness at bay. Loneliness and her wretched friend, anxiety. Just the sheer distraction of noise is enough to drown out most of my daily demons. But on shivery, bone-chilled nights like this, it is dangerously silent. No cheerfully drunk revelers trawling the neighborhood in search of last-minute fun. No street traffic; no Ubers or Lyfts coming to scoop those revelers up. No dog walkers; no barking, scuffling dogs. Just stillness and a cold so sharp it keeps me captive, bundled under covers and powerless to stop the vicious assault of self-loathing that comes, I guess, when some part of me thinks I deserve it.

Tonight my mind betrayed me dreadfully. Negative thoughts spiraled, spinning me like a top until I was dizzy with self-recrimination. Every last failure, every disappointment of the past ten years squeezed into the bedroom, petitioning for my attention. I found myself perched at edge of the bed, gasping sobs I kept silent for the sake of my peacefully sleeping roommates. They snored lightly in tandem, and I wished more than anything the sweetness of that sound could be enough to soothe me. Instead all I could think was that sooner or later they'd both be gone.

Set and setting. When you're stuck in a loop, change your set and setting. That's what they say to do, if you find yourself on a bad drug trip. Which is what my depressive dips essentially are: bad trips. Temporary. Forgettable. But brutal while they last. So I stepped into my slippers - which I only wear when the tiled floor feels like ice underfoot - and went into the other room to pace like an animal.

---

Feeling like one of my friends is mad at me is my emotional Achilles heel. I absolutely cannot handle it. I know why, of course; the threat of such a loss is unbearable to me after all the other losses I've tallied up. My friends are my family now. They're all I've got. And if for some reason there's tension between us, I'm besides myself until all is right again. That's what had unleashed all sorts of psychological hell tonight. The fear that I was losing one friend had refreshed the hurt of every other lost, strained, or failed relationship I've ever had. The worst kind of loneliness isn't the pain of feeling alone now; it's feeling the collective heartache of each time you grew a little more alone in this world. It's the fear of that aloneness expanding.

No one hates you, Ellie. A bad day is not a bad life. Don't blow things out of proportion. I dealt myself various reassurances and platitudes, none of which helped much. Irrational, baseless fears tortured me until I was frantic. I hovered silently in the bedroom doorway, desperate for company but too ashamed to wake Terence up.

Then, mercifully, a light broke through: the remembrance that I am in control of my mind. That all psychological pain is rooted in thoughts over which I have power. Even though I didn't feel capable of reprogramming them right at the moment, just the realization that I could reprogram them was empowering. Calming. My suffering is up to me, and I can end it anytime. 

So that's what I did. I tried to put myself in the mindset of my friend, so I could reconsider and reframe the situation. I looked at myself and our interaction through his eyes. I thought about his life right now. His pressures and stresses. His perspective. I considered the possibility that he's not even mad at me at all, that he's just withdrawn temporarily to process things his own way, on his own time.

Not everyone thinks like me, or handles conflict like me. I know that. I just haven't learned it yet.

America's Favorite

My mother snuck up on me tonight. She likes to do that, when I make a cup of tea.

Tea was her clock and her comfort. She fixed a cup first thing in the morning, rawboned and pensive in faded flannel pajamas. Thinness kept her girlishly limber into her fifties, and she would sit with her knees drawn tight to her chest like a child at story hour, a faraway look masking her thoughts as she sipped. In those moments it was as if her whole body were wrapped around the mug, pulling heat and strength and reassurance from its steam.

All day. She drank it all day. With meals and afterward. Between chores and before bed. My mother drank tea the way some people smoke tobacco: agreeably and pleasurably chained to it.

She drank cheap American tea, which she prepared the tragically American way: by nuking a single-serve baggie in cold tap water on high for two and a half minutes. As I child I thought microwave ovens worked by conventionally heating their contents, only with greater power. When I learned they actually operate through radiation, I was terrified to think what my mother was ingesting from those little bloated brown bags of leaves. Now I know whatever poisons irradiated Lipton left in her blood were nothing compared to what the alcohol did. But kids aren't always good at recognizing the enemy.

Tonight I wanted to wrench more from the dwindling evening than my brain seemed prepared to give, and past a certain hour coffee just feels obscene - so I made a cup of tea. The cabinet is stocked with Earl Grey, peppermint, and chamomile, not to mention a half-dozen tins of Terence's oolongs and greens and other more exotic blends. But I chose from the bright yellow box with the red and white logo - the one containing several dozen miniature envelopes packed in cheerful uniformity. The cheap stuff. America's Favorite Tea. Well, perhaps. One American's that I can attest to anyway.

I can't drown it without smelling it first. And that smell is everything. Things I've known and things I'll never understand. Things familiar and things forgotten. Things that make sense and things that have no business speaking to me at all, much less from the depths of a delicate paper packet the size of a pocket watch. Orange blossom, pepper, and miscommunication. Timothy hay, chocolate, and blame. That smell is my mother.

A funny thing about tea, though: its scent seems to fade under the kettle's boiling spout. So she comes sometimes, when I reach into the bright yellow box. But she rarely stays longer than two and a half minutes.

under the rubble

So, what is it like to live with your ex-boyfriend? Well, sometimes it's like this:

Friday Early Afternoon

- The Escape lineup for today is insane, ugh. It's killing me.

- Gah! Can't even look. :/

- Tickets are only $99...

- For Sat or Sun?

- Today. It's today and tomorrow.

- Oh wow! Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

- I KNOW.

- Can't do tomorrow but...

- OMG I mean would that just be insane? We could just find a motel and crash after... Oh wait, your car's in the shop!

- It's ready! I'm picking it up after work. Is it at the same place as Nocturnal?

- No it's at NOS Events Center, in San Bern.

- Hmmmmmmmm. Starts at 4. Could we buy tickets at the door?

- I'll call and ask.

- This is all very possible.

- OMG. Ok lemme call.

- We would need to figure out hotel and parking. I'll look into that. 

- Yep, we can buy tickets onsite.


Friday Late Afternoon

I will be greatly disappointed if someone, somewhere doesn't eviscerate me for this. 


Friday Evening

Not me. My hood is way fluffier.

Gosh Ellie, it's amazing how interchangeable all your festival photos are. Great work!

No but see this one's a different color, so it needed to be included. 

And when it's like that, it's like that because the things that bound you together in the first place are still there, even if they're buried under ten metric tons of relationship rubble. They're easier to unearth from the rubble when you communicate clearly, from a place of respect and compassion.

But it's not always like that.

Sometimes, it's awful. A maelstrom of hurt that's all the worse because we don't know when it will break - we don't have a move-out date yet. And when it's awful, it's awful because our respective weapons of choice are well-honed, and close at hand. Mine is avoidance, and his - well, I don't know how to characterize his. But it stings.

Really our main conflict concerns boundaries. Terence feels that since we're stuck living together for the time being, "the rule book is out the window". I disagree, and think rules are vital. I'm just not sure what those should be. So we push and pull at one another, moving apart in quick strides then inching back closer when we feel safe to. One day at a time.

If I had to put percentages on it, I'd say we're coming in at 80% peaceful-if-occasionally-uncomfortable coexistence, 15% unresolved tension, and 5% something resembling transcendence. Not too bad, all things considered.

A few days ago we hit the sweet spot, and squeezed out an hour or two of transcendence. In those moments, it is humor that elevates us above the pain of breaking up. Looking at the absurdity of our situation like a sit-com. Laughing about how it must look to our friends, family - even my blog readers - that one day we're at each other's throats and the next we're going to a music festival.

We even took a few selfies in the car to acknowledge it. Shhh, don't tell anyone that we're having a good time, and We're supposed to hate one another. Oops! and Life, amirite??





Last night in San Bernardino we were laughing, too. "Best breakup ever," joked Terence, as our favorite DJ took the stage and we sunk into a familiar, blissful trance. Kind of has a nice ring to it.

One day at a time.