The Art of Being Impossible

A Series of Essays on Being a Pain in the Ass

The Art of Making The List

Lauren Patrick gave me an incredible gift yesterday. Like most things of this nature, it seemed small at the time then quickly morphed into the sort where if you really pay attention, you realize the Universe is trying to tell you something pretty important.

Lauren gave me The List. You know the one. It outlines all the pertinent parts of your perfect person. I’ve heard of The List always. Who hasn’t, right? I feel like there’s even a Sex and the City about it. I’ve just never made mine. Seems strange, doesn’t it? I’m the biggest proponent of putting pen to paper to breathe life into something. The first one telling people to put things in the Universe if they really want them to happen. The most out-loud believer that we control our own destiny, as long as we are resolute and sincere. When I wanted to move to Charleston, I, literally, PUT it everywhere. So to think, when the one thing I love most in this life is love, that I haven’t sat down and actually fashioned what it really looks like to me in a tangible way seems a little, I don’t know, like what the fuck, self. OF COURSE YOU SHOULD HAVE A LIST.

Lauren and I got together yesterday to shoot the shit about life, love, writing, being women, being Southern, being weird, being married, being not married, career successes and failures, our dreams, OUR EVERYTHING. For almost 5 hours, we recorded really incredible conversations with the goal of starting the story we’ve been meaning to tell together for such a long time. I remember this moment exactly and for the rest of forever.

Lauren and her really, really, REALLY excellent husband got married when they were 25. These stories always amaze me. HOW, I wonder. How when you’re still a kid can you make such an important, forever decision. Lauren takes NO time to answer this. Hold on, she says, as she runs into her house, returning a second later with what is obviously a well-loved journal. 16-year-old Lauren used this journal to make her List. She smiles as she shows me the green check marks next to everything. She made them when she met her husband. Her whole life, she compared every person to the List and they never measured up until him. I LOVE THIS STORY.

She shrieks when she discovers I don’t have a list and immediately grabs a pen and starts asking me questions. What does he look like, what does he do, what does he wear, what does he love, what is his family like, what does he do on weekends, WHO IS HE? I just start prattling things off – I’ve never really thought of these things as a whole, more so as individual boxes that most people don’t check so there’s been no real need to compare to the extended version.

I think we stopped somewhere near 40 things. 40 really important things.

Do you know what the list showed me, you guys? You Know Who isn’t the one. Now, if you’re like, uh, duh, Jenn, you broke up 18 months ago, of course he’s not the one, what you don’t know is that there was recently a reunion tour. One that I started after Colonel Bruce told me to bravely love the ones who set your soul on fire in this life. What you don’t know is that it’s weighed so heavily on me for all this time. That he was actually my person. That I left too soon. That I should have fought harder. That MAYBE if I took all the things I learned last year, all the peace I made, all the new and improved me I became and I brought it back, we’d have half the problems, right? The unfortunate math equation of that love story is that so long as one half of it is an alcoholic, 100% of it can never exist. This news still remains hard to swallow. Even with this very brief and unsuccessful return stint, it’s still weighed on my heart. I promised to marry a person and I gave up. How can I ever ever really be sure? Even with the math equation, facts can’t always change your heart.

That said, math never really did it for me in this life. But reading did. And I spoke this list of my heart. With no one but myself and my goals and my dreams in mind. I said all my truths. I WANT THIS. I WON’T SETTLE FOR ANYTHING BUT THIS. HE IS THIS, OR NOT AT ALL. And then I read it.

And You Know Who? He didn’t make the cut. Not even close. There are so so so so so so many more things in my life that I want that that could ever give me. I never realized until I saw it laid out before me in Lauren’s impeccable handwriting. He is not, nor has he ever been, the one for me. He was for learning and not forever. He was to make me better by leaving him behind. He was to push me beyond a really comfortable place I’d gotten in my own arrogance. He was to tear me down to my lowest point so I could rise back up to my highest.

No one I’ve ever met is The List. Do you understand how excited this makes me? There is no one who got away. No I should have or could have. NO WHAT IFs?. Just, like always, the exciting promise that life is doing exactly what and when it’s supposed to. I have struggled with this for so long, and all it took was 15 minutes with the right friend to provide me the finality I haven’t been able to find on my own. Just like that, the last of it left the building.

I encourage every person to make their list. It doesn’t have to be about a person. It can be about a dream project. Or a dream trip. A dream goal. Just a dream. Make your list. Breathe it in to life and make sure you’re living up to it. Don’t slow down or stop until you do. Never believe that anything is unattainable. And don’t settle. You’re a fucking rock star.

I Made Those Brussel Sprouts: Or, How Strawberries Are Not An Apology

It all started in the usual way. I mean, usual in that we use our phones to find our soulmates these days. Soulmates now constituting anyone with whom you have a more meaningful conversation than, “Hey, want to see an unsolicited picture of my d***?” So in that sense, yes, the usual way. A right swipe.

Everything in hindsight, right? When I saw the match come through, I started going through my usual thought process. Again, all usual. I thought, he’s probably too preppie. He’s probably too young. He’s probably some kind of arrogant jerk who hangs out in Buckhead. Never once did I think, he probably has a girlfriend. At least, not for the first couple of days.

I have to be honest here, and I hate myself for it. I liked our conversation. We have a lot in common. We read the same. We hail from small New England towns in Connecticut (what exactly is Torrington, anyways?) and Rhode Island, respectively. He has (for someone I now know is a total dumpster fire) pretty OK ‘Game of Thrones’ fan theories. He seems really liberal and open-minded for ex-Air Force. He seemed…promising. Again, I hate myself for this. But in a sea of dudes who use the letter U in instances such as, “How are u?” or “Just getting thru this day”, you value the smart ones. You at least perceive them to have potential. You give the benefit of the doubt that intellect = moral upstandingness.

Then, you start to notice the cadence of your texting change. This all happened from a Thursday to a Sunday. During the day, a mile of texts, then suddenly he’d fall off at night. Back first thing in the morning with an apology of being busy, or being out. So it kept going, until Sunday, when it all came to a head. A head of Brussel Sprouts, in fact.

Something was amiss. There’s no way that great of a conversation would lead to ghosting, so what gives? This is where I go to my best friend who is, genetically I think, part Private Eye. I say, Dori, here’s the facts. Can you go sort this guy out for me? Within minutes she’s back with pictures of Meg. Sweet, beautiful, and obviously my kindred spirit, Meg.

Much like anything on the internet, what you find is up to you to scrutinize and discern, right? So we decide they must have just broken up recently. She isn’t in a single place on his FB, and her profile read like a long life together that maybe had recently ended and rather than deal with the idea of removing the relationship from a public place, the public place had just been abandoned. I decide not to ask because if he’s on the rebound, it will reveal itself soon enough.

So we’re back to Sunday night. The reason, he said, that we couldn’t hang out that evening, was because he had a cookout to attend. Even better, HE was providing the steaks for the event, having recently been promoted at work and shipped some Omahas. Pictures of the steaks were sent – not alarming that there were two, right, because he was feeding a crowd. Then, in the midst of a conversation about the Brussel Sprouts in the pictures, he’s gone. For the rest of the night.

I decide more digging is required and this is when I find out, not only are they NOT broken up, they live together. And I feel terribly. But more than I feel terribly, it becomes my job to rectify this situation.

I stayed up all night. Should I contact her? Should I ask him? What is the right thing to do here? I have, admittedly, been watching a lot of Sister Wives lately and the last thing I want is to be accused of Catfishing in some crazy way. I am a Saudi Arabian Prince. Please send one million dollars and break up with your cheating boyfriend, immediately.

So I toss and turn all night, then sometime around 5:30 am, I think the only thing that I know to be true. I would want to know. So I messaged her, hoping to sound genuine and not like someone with a relationship-ruining agenda. This is my first time at this. In the midst of hoping to be kind, however, is my own level of distaste for this dude and the hours of my time he took up with texting, that I could have been spent, you know, NOT texting a dude with a girlfriend. So in a small act of vengeance, I send him the message I sent her and explain to him that he’s a real dick. THIS DUDE, who we’re gonna call Rob D., by the way, IS A REAL DICK.

Some time goes by and she messages me back. To say he denied it and she believes him. That many of their friends have had their accounts hacked and fake profiles started and similar situations, etc. Before you judge her, let’s all imagine the place you’re in. You live with a person, who, for two years has never given you reason to doubt and you’re faced with a message from a crazy stranger at 5:30 in the morning. Of course you’re going to listen to your love and give your heart another chance. Only, I cannot, deep down, let this happen to this girl.

Seriously, y’all, SHE IS GORGEOUS. She also speaks 3 languages and plays three instruments and has a great and important job. She is bright and sweet and all the things you want to save from a dude like our old pal, Rob D.

So again, faced with having no idea how to approach this, I just started spouting off the facts I knew. Things that you can’t learn from a stolen profile. Life facts. Timelines. I mention the steaks and ask if that dinner was for her. And this is where the tide turned. SHE MADE THOSE GD BRUSSEL SPROUTS. What kind of dude sends pictures of a dinner his girlfriend helped to make? Oh wait, I know. The guy who also sends pictures of dinner on his girlfriend’s grandmother’s china. LIKE HER SPECIAL CHINA. The same guy who crops his girlfriend out of pictures she took to use for his Tinder profile. This is the part where I can’t even with this guy.

I give her all I’ve got. I know it to be imperative that she believe me. In a way that I feel really convinced the Universe brought me here to save her, I give her every piece of knowledge I have to empower her to go. And she does.

In less than an hour, she tells me she’s contacted their leasing office. She’s starting packing, found a place to stay, and has a plan in place for delivering the news. She is leaving this, proverbially setting him and their life on fire. I feel proud of a stranger in ways I never thought possible. She tells me the plan starts with her printing out our entire conversation and putting it on display for him.

Because I challenge any movie to be more interesting than my life, we decide to meet for drinks. Never for a second did we feel like strangers. Especially not after the amazing laugh we share over chocolate-covered strawberries. You guys. HE SENT HER CHOCOLATE-COVERED STRAWBERRIES AS AN APOLOGY. And the note? It said, “Enjoy.”

To which I say, if I have anything to do with it, “Bitch, she will.” She will enjoy her freedom. Her growth. The days when she remembers being with him was far more lonely or empty than even her roughest of times right now. Her ability to pursue happiness beyond betrayal. Her ability to recreate an environment of trust in her life. Also, let’s be honest, when she’s ready, the fun of a new smooch.😊

This is Meg’s story, so we’re not going to fill it with details of last year, but I know one thing to be true. I found her to help her, and she found me to remind me. The parallels between her jerk and my jerk are almost uncanny. We shake heads while we share stories of what it’s like to live with an alcoholic narcissist who suffers from depression. We feel relief in the empathy. There is joy for her in the realization that she will come out the other side of this, joy for me because I realize that I have. In this joy, an important bond was quickly and indelibly formed. What luck to have found such an amazing new friend.

Where we go from here is forward. Forward as friends! Forward in her healing. Forward in telling anyone who will listen that Rob D. is a douche. Forward in fighting the good fight against dudes who lie and cheat. Forward in holding other human beings accountable for their actions. Forward to a better space for all concerned. Except Rob. I have a feeling his space isn’t going to be so great, Karma being a bigger bitch than a Kardashian.

In the meantime, let’s drink some champs, eat some (chocolate-covered) strawberries and toast to Meg, who is braver and smarter than most of us. And also my new wingman.

Bye, Barack: A Farewell To #44

I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. At the time, ‘Yes, We Can’ seemed a little idealistic for me after nearly a decade of George W. Bush – Wait. Stop. Can we just say here that Dubya is looking more and more like a big, dumb loveable puppy (minus the part where he TOTALLY knew about 9/11) compared to the evil that is about to inherit the meek? Fuck, guys, that’s bad. Anyways, as I tend to, I digress.

I didn’t vote for Barack Obama, and I’d like to say I’m damn sure glad for all of you who did. Check out the numbers. For the record, I pulled this from FactCheck.org, which I consider fairly non-biased. You can see that, while not perfect, it cannot be said that Barack Obama did not positively impact our country. Our economy. Our planet. Most important, though, is the way Barack Obama positively impacted our people.

For the first time in a very long time, humanity found its way to the White House. Humility and laughter. An almost complete lack of scandal. A love story for the ages. A genuine sense of kindness and the lucky ability to not take life so seriously some times. Remember when he told us they were building Iron Man? And the special bromance with Joe Biden? Stolen moments with Michelle? I mean, there’s a clip floating around of all the times the guy made himself laugh. Gosh, I love him so.

I’m sad I wasn’t on the Barack Obama bandwagon for the first half of his presidency. Please know I finally saw the light, ran real fast, and caught up in time to see an incredible man hold an important office with grace, finesse, and an innate ability to connect with others. These values, his strength and courage, a never-questioned sense of wanting to help others, solidified his spot on my list of truly great men. I was lucky to live during his time in office.

Unfortunately, today, that time comes to an end. I, like many (most, you Electoral College fucks), am heartbroken today. November still feels like a nightmare, only it really has seemed to get worse and worse every day. As a self-professed non-patriot, I never realized how much I cared about my country until I learned it would be handed off to a self-indulgent, facist (although not really because there’s not a lick of idealism inside Donald Trump), petulant, bullying, child.

I’m afraid, y’all. When Donald Trump says he wants to Make America Great Again, can we talk about what the reality of that is?

Steel and coal jobs? Really? Will our husbands (because in Great Old America, most women didn’t work) carry a nice thermos of soup to the mine or plant? A profoundly harsh impact on the environment, not to mention coal is a non-sustainable form of energy. Let me spell that out for you climate change deniers. There is a finite supply of fossil fuel in this Earth. That means they run out. And sooner than you idiots think. We need to be investing in renewable forms of energy. Wind. Solar. Water. Your boy Donald wants to take us back to a time in industry when we consumed at NO WHERE NEAR the level we do now. We have to look forward or it doesn’t matter what you THINK about fracking because we’ll all be dead from lack of clean water to drink.

Our Earth. Allow me to keep going. Cool. Back in Great Old America, we had NO IDEA what impact we were making on the Earth with our actions. Funny thing about research and discovery over time. This guy is working his ASS off to take scientific evidence and make it look like liberal conspiracy. An ice shelf the size of Delaware is about to break off Antarctica after the planet’s hottest year on record. DO YOU NOT GET THE MAGNITUDE OF THAT? Do you understand what rising sea levels mean? What happens when all the coral reefs are bleached? When all the sea life dies because we’ve left them with nothing but plastic to eat? When all the bees are gone? WE DIE, YOU GUYS. All those precious little consumers you’re popping out. DEAD. Probably at the hands of starvation or disease or horrible suffering. Or maybe their spaceship crashed on the way to Mars, which we have to populate because we destroyed Earth. Either way, his active denial of this will, literally, kill us all.

Oppression of Women – Man, the 50s sure were great for women, weren’t they? Oh wait. Seriously. You fucking conservatives. No birth control, but no abortions. Gotta have the kid you wisely know you don’t have the resources to support, sorry cut the food stamps program. Why would you need a pap smear? Only slutty girls get cervical cancer. Oh, you want to have a baby in a natural way without a planned C-section and FDA-sanctioned dose of Pitocin? SORRY! NOT COVERED BY YOUR INSURANCE. Also, once you have that kid, unlike every other country ON EARTH, it’s 50/50 on whether or not your boss likes you enough to give you maternity leave. Sorry about your luck, breast-feeding baby. We can also get into awesome things like wage-gap, the rape crisis we’re obviously facing when FUCKSTICKS like Brock Turner get let out of prison after, like, 5 minutes, and the still prevalent archaic gender-role projections that wife and mom are the best goals a woman can have in life.

Whites (and Men. And Straights.) Only – I’m sorry, I know this seems an obvious place to start, but does anyone ever stop to think about what he’s saying? A wall, you guys. A WALL. We are just going to build a giant wall between our countries. Maybe we can hang a NO BROWNS ALLOWED sign on the Mexico side of it? Is this a fucking joke? We’re up to our eyeballs in debt, but we’re going to build a wall. Because man, those Mexicans are really fuckin’ shit up over here. Also, sorry if you’re black. There will be no investment in your communities. LGBT friends, your marriages and your rights are important and I will fight beside you should you ever stand to lose them. Sorry AF if you’re Muslim. I don’t even want to make a joke about that one. I’m sorry. For what it’s worth, I don’t want you to have to register yourself to be anywhere ever and you can come up in ANY space of mine and practice your faith. You are harming me none. I am smart enough to understand your beautiful beliefs do not equate terrorism. I understand more people die in my country at the hands of Republican-sanctioned gun violence every day than they have from every terrorist attack ever. I understand that to REALLY, REALLY make it in this world, nothin’s better than bein’ a white dude who likes to get peed on by Russian prostitutes. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, but it would be cool if the white dudes could lean more toward the Bern and less toward the Don, if ya know what I mean.

See how none of this is great? See how he is going backwards? See how progress stops?

So. Today is it. We say goodbye, not just to a great president, but to a great man. Donald Trump, business ruiner and reality star extraordinaire is now presiding over the Greatest Country On Earth. That fact alone means it isn’t. It means we’re tolerating Russian hacking and voting fraud. It means the popular voice of our citizens doesn’t matter. It means men across the country said this guy is an ok example for their daughters. That women gave permission to be grabbed and objectified by the Great Golden Showerer himself. What. The. Fuck? This America isn’t and won’t be great at all.

I’m going to take a cue from the Obamas and try, over the next four years (or until he gets impeached, PLEASE HURRY) to accept this with grace. To be the example of kindness and empathy that our new, but never my, president lacks. To stand tall and to stand up for people lower on the privilege ladder than me. To fight for our planet. For our bodies. For our basic and most important right to be free. I will try to keep hope that, YES, WE CAN get through this. And come out on top. Today, I don’t feel hope, but I am going to try to muster its return because it’s all we’ve got left. And each other. Let’s hold on to both, ok?

Thank you, President and Michelle Obama. For eight years. For the laughs. For the growth. For the love. You far surpassed anything we had planned for you. We will love you always and miss you more than you can possibly know.

Love,

Most of us.

The Art of Being 35

1337799645580_5333980A new phenomenon is happening to me. I swear, just when you think you’ve reached the age where people stop saying accidentally assholish things to you, you haven’t. We all know what it used to be. Every time someone would question my age, the next question was always when/where/how/and, subsequently hearing my prompt “Never,” why not about kids. In a brief moment of praise, I’d like to thank 35 for slowing that question down to a slow crawl from old ladies at the grocery store who assume I’m younger than I am. Here’s why they think it.

I, apparently, look good for 35. Wanna know how I know that? Because everyone is telling me. I mean EVERY. FUCKING. PERSON. Strangers. The editor of this blog with whom I lunched recently. Dudes. I say 35 and their brains EXPLODE.

Can I ask a serious question? Precisely what the fuck is that? I say I’m 35 and I get a look of shock. Wow, they say, you look so good. Um, thanks. Remember when I looked like this 6 months ago when I was 34? Nobody told me how good I looked for my age WAY back then.

35 has become the age when a woman dies to our society. Maybe you disagree with this because you have a kooky, 50-year-old lesbian aunt. But I’m telling you, for the rest of us 35 is this THING. This weird line in the sand where I’m supposed to be old and look bad. Frumpy and past my prime. Where the dream of marriage and children (which, if you remember, was never my dream) HAS DIED. Well. I guess the clock struck 12 and I dodged that pumpkin.

I want to talk about 35, because everyone has it wrong. 35 isn’t the age where I think I STILL look good. 35 is the age where I FEEL STUNNING. Never more sure or confident of myself in my entire life. Proud of the way my brain is managing life, what I’ve achieved, where I’ve been, the incredible collection of humans I call mine.

I get it. If you take a microscope to 35, there are changes. My smile lines stay forever now. I spend hours (that’s a lie, it’s like a couple minutes before I give up in despair and slather coconut oil all over my face) staring and tugging at them. Dissecting whether every smile was worth this new face. The answer is, FUCK YES THEY WERE. In addition to the wrinkles, there are some grey hairs (including TWO in my eyebrow that can go fuck themselves), hangovers that kill me, and the way I gain like, 8lbs if I look at bread now.

But 35 also means a lot of other, better things. It means I’m financially stable enough to do pretty much whatever I want. It means my brain has lost a LOT of its edge and I mostly only feel like a maniac during a full moon, vs. the constant, anxious shackles of my younger years. It means I sleep at night. It means I make time to exercise because it’s SO important. It means I get to give no fucks and put people out of my space who don’t fit the flow of my life. It means I have been through battle and come out with scars that make me beautiful. Also. While I have you. 35 ROCKS in bed. Just. Sayin’.

Ahem. Speaking of. I’m smooching this 29-year-old. I mean, we met in a field at a concert. How millennial of us. Part of my insides want to indulge the tug that it’s weird. But in truth, dude is the most grown up of everyone I’ve hung out with, from 28 to 43 and everywhere in between. I’m changing my mind about it mattering. It’s forcing me to challenge my own stereotypes about age, which, if you’ve been reading, you may have noticed is exactly what I’m asking everyone else to do. Think before you tell a woman that she looks good for your pre-determined notions of her age.

It really is just a number. That said, with age DOES come wisdom. It’s undeniable. I mean, if you’re doing it right. And for that, I wouldn’t trade this widely-dreaded witching hour for anything. I find it quite magical. Like Disney movie magical. Only in v.35, there’s a lot less waiting around for Prince Charming to complete your destiny, and a lot more kicking complete ass as you make your own.

The Art of Doing It Differently This Time

So, we all knosingle-crisp1w that the usual course of action for me at the end of a relationship is to hop pretty well immediately into another one. Most of the time, this comes right on the heels of me swearing that I’ll be single for a while. Then a bar night happens, or a right swipe happens, or fuck, I buy a house, and WHAMMY, boyfriend.

We’re four situations into this one.

There was the pretty boy who proved himself way too bro and, bless his heart, just not smart enough. Also, I don’t like dating hot guys. There. I said it. For a variety of reasons from vanity to jealousy, I need to be the better looking one. It has also been my experience that the hottest guys just don’t have a lot to say. I like nerdy weirdos, y’all. I can’t help it. I will forever be the chick that people look at and think “What is she doing with him?” My insides don’t match my outsides, what can I say?

There was Favorite Old Flame, who, God love him, I hope we stay friends for all our days, but the thing I have learned most resolutely over the last year is that people don’t change. In this case, old flame remains all the reasons why he became an old flame (I’m sure me for him as well – we are divinely intertwined to be pals) and I was reminded by the Universe that the solution very rarely lies (FUCK! Is it lies, lays, I don’t know!) in the past.

There was blind date who cancelled on me at the last minute, which was really ok because I’d already mentally cancelled on him, reminding me that some parts of dating are just TOTALLY disappointing. I’d never met the guy, I wasn’t excited for the date, but it existed to remind me that I’m not the center of someone’s Universe right now and tough titties for me.

Then, there was the wonderful guy. Damn it. He’s wonderful. He is wonderful and right now that makes me feel like I am backed into a corner, placed into a line to give blood while I’m still bleeding out. My insides don’t have what it takes right now to give Wonderful what it deserves. So I cancelled a date after feeling anxious about it all day because…

I’m. Not. Ready.

I’ve never said those words before. Not about dating. Not about sex. Not about anything. I’m always ready. For whatever. This time, no.

Now, before you go thinking, poor Jenn, she must be so sad about her break-up. I need you to know some things. Most importantly that I am fine. I am not not ready because I’m crying myself to sleep over BoD. Oh, I forgot to tell you. RB’s new acronym is BoD. It stands for Bag of Dicks. Post break-up he has very well proven himself to be one…I didn’t want to write this post, cause I didn’t want anyone thinking I still care or don’t but, he’s still blowing my phone up…

First, did you see what I just did there? Amazing right? And actually, he’s blowing up my email because I have his number blocked, but I digress.

So, I’m not crying myself to sleep. I have cried.  A few times. It’s not like I have no feelings at all about the situation. But every interaction I have with him continues to prove me right and sit me super-grounded in my choices. Unfortunately, it also reminds me that I have been through a shit hard year and all I want right now is a little peace and quiet.

Last night, two of my friends and I ate tacos and sat on the couch and sang songs and told stories and it filled up my soul. These tiny little moments lately with my people, in my city. They feel like…healing. They feel like these lucky little selfish acts where the people I love don’t even realize I am stealing our life force Dementor-style to fill up that empty jar we talked about last time. Do you remember when I said there was joy in this reinvestment? It is epic.

I listen to all of my still-single friends who, as I have been, are trying so hard to find their person. And a thought occurred to me. What if I’m my person? What if all these years of constantly putting all of myself into SUCH UNWORTHY dudes has been the wrong relationship simply because it was with someone else and not with myself? I have NEVER put as much energy into myself as I have into a relationship. What if I showered myself with love and curiosity and forgiveness and fun and gifts and things just for the sake of making that person, ME, happy? WHAT? Well, that’s the most novel fucking idea I’ve ever had.

People tell me I’m selfish all the time. I’m obviously a narcissist. If there’s anything I should be really good at it, it’s myself. I feel like the time is finally here where I can say that I am ready to be alone. Not only am I ready, I crave it. I need it. It, like leaving was, is imperative.

The scary part about doing this is wondering how you will fill the time. The scariest thought is that you could end up alone every Friday night, miserly and sad. Ok, yeah right. My life hasn’t skipped a beat. For what it’s worth, only one of the like, thousands of cool things I’ve done in the last 6 weeks has been a date. (Ugh. A great date with Wonderful. Stupid timing.) Pretty came to hang out with me and my friends a couple of times, but otherwise I have been kept totally busy by a village of the most badass Bs. And every time we do something, I feel like I make a new friend, thus widening the pool of badass Bs with plans for me to the point of actually LONGING to sit at home on a Friday night.

No part of me wants to accommodate another human right now. I don’t want to, as I sadly told Wonderful last night, be beholden to anyone. If I cancel dinner with my friends, they know I’ll see them tomorrow or some other time with no guilt attached. That’s what I need right now. I need to answer only to me. Some times to Donna. 🙂

I’m gonna rock the free world Jenn Ciccarelli style for a little while. Maybe a long while. Fuck, maybe forever. Maybe I really AM Blanche and I’ll just be hot and old and doing the damn thing. I have no idea what’s coming. The future is as wide open as I think it’s ever been. I like this feeling. Like, SO MUCH. And if I do meet someone, I finally might just say, “Sorry, I’m growing as a person right now.” 😉

 

The Art Of Being Honest About It

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Alright, it’s time to get on with it. We couldn’t NOT talk about it, could we? We have to say something. I know. I mean, we don’t HAVE to, but this commitment to living this life out loud calls me always, so we’re going to give this a whirl.

Here’s what I don’t want.

  • I don’t want to smear him. That’s a lie. I do. But I respect his career regardless of his personal choices and so if it seems I am being vague overall it’s because I consider the details…libelous. Ish. Totally true but mean or something just the same.
  • I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did and that’s why we’re here. Friends who know the details of the situation called on me to speak out so other chicks feel empowered and strong to leave when it’s bad like it was. IT WAS BAD. AND I LEFT. And my life is better for it. Be strong. Take your life. Get your happy.
  • I don’t want this to come across as though I have no fault here. I have fault. I have a lot of fault. We’ll get that to that. I just want it to be said up front. It’s my fault too.
  • I don’t want you to believe that 3rd bullet point. It’s not actually my fault AT ALL. When St. Pete is casting down the final judgement on this one, little to none of it shall come my way. But I have to own some of it, so that bullet up there is more like, optional or something. 😉

Ok, here we go.

For the last year of my life, I have been my very worst self. I have been volatile. I have been vexing. I have been mean-spirited. I have been a total fucking bitch. Let’s own it. I HAVE BEEN A TOTAL FUCKING BITCH. Yeah, I have. I’m cool with it. If you’re like, wait, didn’t you say this wasn’t your fault, yes, I did, and it’s not.

See, cause, here’s the thing. Most of you who know me know that I am one of the most happy, silly, crazy, life-filled, adventure-seeking people around. I mean, I’m not jumping out of an airplane, but I’ll fly to Cuba on a whim with you for sure. I will start random bar sing-alongs and make best friends with strangers and I genuinely love life so much it’s hard for me not to scream it out from the Facebook roof tops every day.  For a person like that to become who I’ve been, well, it’s less like a match to a fuse and more like someone continuously dumping gasoline on a pile of burning tires. My point here is that I am not a person who spontaneously combusts…So.

I did all the usual things. I asked nicely. I tried being sweet and encouraging. I wrote letters. I begged. I cried. GOD DAMN DID I CRY. Y’all. I have cried more in the last year than my life. More than Charleston, more than that big one ten years ago that I was sure I’d never get over, more than ever. I cried every day. And then one day, I stopped. I stopped crying and instead I screamed. And then it felt like I never stopped screaming. I screamed and I screamed and NOTHING changed. Except one important thing. Me.

I changed. I broke. I broke in half and sideways. Even my face showed it. We all know I’m a pretty vain chick. For an entire year, I would smile at myself in the mirror and only see tired. God, I was tired. Tired of screaming. So tired I was convinced I was crazy and I went to see a psychiatrist. So tired that I let someone else steal my joy and convinced me I was asking for the unreasonable. I wasn’t. Never once. But I believed it. I believed it and everything he said. Because I loved him. Because, as a promise-keeper, I assumed everyone was. Well, they aren’t. And I want to tell you, if this is your life right now, there’s a good chance you aren’t crazy either and that what you are asking for is fair and right and good for your soul and you have a right to say no to anyone who refuses you it.  Some women pick a lifetime of it. I would have died.

So, for months, an equal combo of screaming and withering. To a moment where I wondered if this was what depression feels like. To not wanting to get out of bed because the minute I opened my mouth, the screaming would start. I was anxious to the point of laying awake all night and wondering what was wrong with me. I didn’t want to see my friends. Because I didn’t want them to know. About the screaming. And worst of all, I was smoking. So in sum, I wasn’t sleeping, exercising, eating well, having sex, and I was chain smoking. But more important than any of those things, I wasn’t being heard. Even in my loudest voice.

So, I lost my mind. I LOST IT. I will own this. When he tells you I went crazy, he’s right. Me and Tay and our long list of Starbucks lovers. 😉 At the lowest point of it, I looked around and I knew I was really on the brink of losing myself completely as a person and that’s when I knew it was time to go. I am Jenn Ciccarelli. I am not that fucking girl. I will not be a Lifetime movie. This life of mine is meant to be EVERYTHING. And so it shall.

It was hard. I packed up my clothes and my dogs and my dignity and I went to stay with my parents. At 34! I lived with my parents for two weeks until my house was ready because getting out of there was no longer a should I, it was imperative.

Funny thing. You would think the tears  started the minute I drove away, but instead, they dried up. And you would think I suffered sleepless nights worrying and wondering, but instead I slept better than I had in months. No anxiety. No smoking. No hurting. Just peace. Silence. The screaming stopped.

It’s been almost a month now. And I feel like I am coming out of a fog. Like the sun is shining on me for the first time in forever – and my face is showing it and my heart is feeling it. When you leave a relationship on empty, all you can do is fill yourself back up and, for me, there is a lot of joy in this reinvestment. In remembering the person I was and what I wanted my life to be like when I moved back to Atlanta. To making that a reality and knowing I was right to want it and to ask for it and to leave when I didn’t get it.

We joke about YOLO. But I try to live by it. This is mine. It’s the one I got and it will be beautiful or nothing at all. I made mistakes here. But man, did I learn. I learned so much.

  • Don’t give everything you’ve got to a person who excels at taking. They will bleed you dry.
  • Don’t look at behaviors that make you uncomfortable and try to get comfortable with them because someone tells you you should be. Stand by your fucking convictions.
  • Don’t let the things that make your soul shine go to the wayside for a person who doesn’t.
  • You are not crazy. You might be acting a little nutty. Maybe you are just fucking tired of asking nicely. Don’t let anyone convince you you’re crazy unless it’s your mom. Then listen. For the record, Donna is Team Jenn here and she’s the first one to call me out on batshit.
  • Don’t stay because “you’re comfortable.” You aren’t comfortable. If you think about it, you’re probably sad as fuck and the fear of the unknown can be crippling. I am here to tell you. I dove into the unknown. IT’S FUCKING AWESOME OVER HERE.
  • I always say that happiness is a choice. Choose it.

In close, here we go again. Life. The next step. The next chapter. I’m a few pages in and really lovin’ what I’m readin’. It’s fun and bright and feels like it’s only the beginning. AND GOD DAMNIT, Y’ALL. I AM SO GLAD I NEVER HAVE TO GO TO THE GOD DAMN FLATIRON EVER AGAIN.

Le fin.

 

Lesson Two: The Art of Moving Around A Lot

1454953897left_shark_2By the time I was 10, I’d lived in 3 states and three countries. In fact, every 3 years or so from the time I was 4 years old, I moved. Now, before I start the “how this fucked me up” portion of our show, I would like to sing praises of my charmed life. While other kids were hanging out in the burbs in places like Ohio (no offense, because like, I know offense, but seriously, name a more vanilla place), I was running around Italy. I spent Thanksgiving in Turkey and ate Chinese food in Paris and hung around with 5-star admirals and diplomats before I could drive. I don’t think these are bragging rights as much as to be called out for vast difference between my upbringing and most people’s.

There is something to be said for the level of maturity this life instills in a person at a young age. By maturity I mean, I was 15 going on 26 and that damn sure made me a pain in the ass. I think my parents refer to them as the Dark Years. Once, I was 14 in Austria on a family rafting trip and this girl and I snuck out, told our river guide we were 18, and hitch-hiked to a party in Germany. I told my parents this story for the first time just a few years ago and they just looked at me like, “You’re…impossible.” But I digress.

The other amazing benefit to this is that I can make friends in an empty room. Seriously, stick me in a place with strangers for longer than five minutes and I will leave with a best friend. One I will likely never talk to again, which I think is indicative of this whole thing, but with them feeling really really strong feelings of connection with another human nonetheless. I’m GREAT at connecting…some times even sincerely. It’s just that, that connection is likely ephemeral for me. I can’t tell you how many times a date has explained to me that they thought we had chemistry, to which I always reply, “No, I have chemistry.”

So every three years, while you guys are all hanging out with the people you went to kindergarten with, I am showing up on your scene all, “Hey. I’m new. And since I’m me, I assume you love me instantly and that my immediate integration into your lifelong situation shouldn’t be difficult for either of us.” The part we don’t probably need to mention, but should for good measure, is that I expected to do this while being a person who completely lacks empathy and refuses to budge on most everything. (In high school, popular and infamous tread a very fine line.)

Which brings us to the flip side of all the glitz and glamour of a whirlwind life of traveling, and that is that I am REALLY good at leaving. Man, my college best guy friend even had a catchphrase for me. ”I’M GOING HOME.” Said in a voice of SUCH disdain. If I don’t like a single thing, I am out. I jump ship on people, places, jobs. Funny enough, never my band. J But really. I don’t, as we discussed, like compromise much so I’m much better at being like, fuck this. That’s not very good. Or something. I keep waiting for the fight to go out of me, but no.

You know how most people have to learn to get along at some point? Because you’re going to see each other at church or around town. For me, if I just held out long enough, I’d blow that pop stand and never have to see that person again. This is called avoidance or something, yes? I don’t know what I call it (the military calls it packing out), but I know if I don’t like you or want to be around you, I call it resolutely so. The Ice Queen, along with the gangsta rapper, runs deep in this soul. Using the power of social media and scenes from Mean Girl, I literally erase people. Man, it feels so good. (It’s also a great way to make sure your TimeHop doesn’t romanticize some bullshit a year from now.) Whether it’s healthy or not I’m not sure, as I have frequently been accused of not dealing with things. Ok, cool, well, you sit there and cry and I’m gonna go get on with it. Sorry if this does not meet the National Grieving Association’s criteria for how one must process life.

People tell me all the time that my life seems crazy and stressful and that I should find stillness. That I should settle down and seek peace. Slow my roll. Do. Fucking. Yoga.

If a shark stops moving, it dies. That’s all I have to say about that.

Lesson One: The Art of Being An Only Child

single_pull6We can, and should probably, start with the obvious. I’m an only child. “Ohhhhhhhhh,” you said. “Well that explains everything,” you said. I mean, we only children, man we have some bad raps. For what it’s worth, there are plenty of fully functioning, empathetic, selfless only children out there who are beyond tired of having people give them pity eyes when they confess to the horror of a siblingless life. Not ALL of us have been in therapy for years. I mean, I HAVE. But not all of us. But yes, that’s where this starts. The old formative years. The old “Freud would have a field day with me” years. The old, “hey, I had no siblings and my parents never paid attention to any one or thing but me so why would I grow up to assume that would ever start happening” years.

Imagine me. (Did anyone else say that in Sophia’s voice? Picture it. Sicily….)  I’m born on Easter, the first girl after 4 boy grandchildren. My very arrival was revered! Celebrated! I was rejoiced…and it only got worse from there. Everyone loved me. In my memories, I think of my aunts and uncles and imagine them paying more attention to me than their own kids.  That didn’t really happen. It just never occurred to me at the time that they, or anyone, loved anyone but me. I grew up living all over the place (more on that when we get to the art of moving around all the time) so when we traveled home, seeing us, seeing ME, was really something special. I’m the OG Millennial, y’all. My sense of entitlement as it comes to love and praise is top notch.

Ok, so let’s think about how this manifests as an adult. For 18 years, everyone around me, without saying so, but concretely, resolutely, put me on some kind of attention pedestal. Never did a need go unmet. Never did something important to me have to take a place on the back burner. Never did I have to compromise on what I wanted to do, eat, wear, be. All of my ME was left unchecked. And it grew and it grew (now I want to tell a rhyming story where we make my ego a Dr. Seuss character) until it was too big for any room, then suddenly, and in a flash not dissimilar to Harry Potter and his floo powder, I was flung into adult life. It would probably have been a good time to tackle the onset of these issues, but I just drank and did a lot of other ridiculous things instead.

I have never shared a thing in my life. Really, try to eat something off my plate and see what happens to you. I was confused when other kids touched my stuff and pretty much never wanted it again if it lost the special gift of only being mine. (This applies to my adult life in the form of ex-girlfriends.) The funny (horribly inconvenient for other people) part is, I never went through a “mine” phase because MY WHOLE LIFE WAS ONE. What is this yours you speak of?

I feel deeply and thoroughly hurt when people don’t see things my way. I can REALLY TRULY SEE how that would come across. Controlling. Insane. Mostly like weak sauce who gets upset at the slightest sign of “he’s just not that into your idea.” Well let me tell you guys. When the whole world for your whole life tells you the sun rises and sets around you, Galileo be damned and what not. I know only how to be the center of the universe or not at all. Again, you can see how this might not really work for everyone else. Like most other things associated with being impossible, I don’t care.

I don’t understand compromise. I really don’t. What you’re telling me is that I have one life to live and I should spend even one second of it doing what someone else wants? THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLE. Oh, you just shuddered and called me selfish and appalling, didn’t you? I promise I will say so many more terrible things over the course of this journey together. You should go ahead and pull up your big girl panties, grab a latte (soy, if you’re me) and settle in to this long story.

I will offend you because I’ve come to the conclusion that I think differently than almost 58% of the people on this planet. Probably more. In fact, I know more, because it’s almost 100% of women. Women want children. An entire act focused around giving one’s entire self and purpose to another person. I MIGHT get up early to take you to the airport if you’ve been my friend for long enough.

I could go on about this forever, but the real point is that when nature and nurture combined in my universe, I got fucked, I never stood a chance of being “normal” so the incessant forgiveness of my “shortcomings” is pretty much required. All signs pointed to me being just how I am. A crazy narcissist who loves all things best when they are new. And mine.