Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wanting What I Can't Have

I've had bad experiences with men. All my life it seems, I've not had luck with men. People don't get it when I try to explain, and I usually get the "have you tried women?" question. No, I haven't and no offense to any lesbians reading this, but I am NOT interested in women. My crushes have ranged from classmates to gay guys (sigh) to one of my college professors.

For a long time, I just didn't notice men. I don't know why. Maybe it was my horrible brother, the guys who bullied me in school, or whatever. It's very, very hard when you try to do the right thing, and you still get dumped on. How you deal with it depends on what kind of person you are. Some people pick up guns and start shooting. Others cut themselves. I just got more and more depressed, and looked in the mirror, and wondered what was wrong with me. It wasn't a recent problem, it's been going on ever since I can remember. It doesn't matter how I act, men don't like me.

That's why, when I see things posted on Facebook, or billboards, or church signs with the reminder that "God Loves Me," I have a hard time believing it. If God IS a man, he doesn't like me. It's not in the genes.

I've pretty much given up on finding anyone. A friend suggested I get on Match.com or some other site to look for guys. I didn't, but sometimes I go on and look for men in my age range, and I'm not impressed at all. I know I really need to lose weight, and I struggle with that too. So I feel like I can't really say, I'm looking for someone, and this is what I want, when I look the way I do. Men don't seem to have this issue. They can weigh 300 pounds, and they still try and get the supermodel-looking chick. I know I don't have anything to offer, so I stay to myself.

That being said, I've become obsessed with The Office. I've got seasons 1-5 and have been watching them over and over and over. The Pam/Jim story line is both frustrating, heartbreaking and inspiring. Of course, I've fallen in love with Jim Halpert. And yes, I know he's a fictional character. For me, this is pretty typical. I seem to have crushes on guys who are not attainable. Some of you armchair shrinks might say I purposely pick men I can't have, but this isn't true. It's just that the men who are available, I'm not attracted to.

Ten years ago, an acquaintance said he wanted to see more of me. I was not attracted to him then, I'm not attracted to him now. He's a nice enough guy, but it's not enough. There has to be similarity of interests, activities, philosophical outlook, intelligence and physical attraction. So, I probably could have been dating someone, he could have been my boyfriend, but I didn't want to get involved for a variety of reasons. I didn't want to get involved, knowing I wasn't attracted to him in any way, shape, or form, only to have to break it off shortly thereafter.

I've sort of given up wondering why I have bad luck with men. I've just sort of accepted it. I'm tired of analyzing it, and worrying about it. It would be nice to have a Jim Halpert in my life, but it won't happen. No matter how I act, especially if I just be "myself" men don't like me. So be it. I am not going to act a different way in order to win friends and influence people. I like acting, but I don't want to do it all the time.

And I'll continue to obsess over The Office and Pam and Jim. I'll eventually own all of the seasons of it. I'll watch the YouTube videos of Pam and Jim's romance and cry. I'll watch the scene where Jim pops his head in the door of the conference room when he comes back from New York and asks Pam to dinner, causing her to forget what the camera crew asked her. The tears in Pam's eyes and her smile is something everyone had been rooting for since the first season. I'll continue to hope that maybe there's a Jim Halpert out there; fun and nice and sensitive, and likes the same things I do. And cute in that boy-next-door way.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Reaching that Nostalgic Age

I think I've read enough Mad magazine articles or lists circulating on the Internet that say, "You know you're getting old, when ..." I've reached that age, I think. A few years ago I mentioned 45 r.p.m.'s in class, and no one knew what I was talking about.

Anyway, I was on YouTube tonight, looking at a video for "Head Over Heels," by Tears For Fears. It's a pretty safe bet that if I want to start crying, all I have to do is look at videos or listen to music from my past. For me, it's like binge drinking. Why do I listen to stuff that's going to make me cry? Why does a binge drinker drink? Because we can.

The last eight years of my life have been bad, but I think it started even earlier than that, in the year 2000, when my dad died. From then, little by little, then in big leaps, my life has sucked since then. Personal illnesses, 9/11, mother dying, financial ruin, discovery of what I SHOULD be doing for a living ... I don't know. Sometimes we wish we'd find out about stuff sooner, but I believe things happen for a reason.

But getting back to music from my past. I don't know why I insist on looking back. I was miserable in high school, but certain songs can bring tears to my eyes. So why do the early 1980s seem so wonderful? Fact is, they probably weren't, but I think it's the lost innocence that I mourn the most. My conception of time is woefully off. At age 18, I was a "young" 18, that's for sure. While other people were graduating high school and going off to college, I continued to live at home, and stupidly making plans that never seemed to work out. While people were getting married, I'd barely been out on dates. While people my age were having kids, I was still at home, traveling on my precious few vacation days. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that time was rushing by, and it certainly seemed like I was rushing by. It was scary. Downright terrifying.

The 1990s were probably the best decade of my adult life. And listening to certain songs can trigger memories that I wish I could hug to me like a doll. Whenever I hear "All I Want" by Toad the Wet Sprocket, I see a warm summer sunset, happiness in my family, and the thought that I still had time. I still had time. And in the meantime, there were my niece and nephew to spend time with, buy toys for, and take on outings. I had a decent enough job, and there was always something to look forward to.

Then, it seems like the music started to get worse. My father died. Then, my mother died, and from then on, it seems like it was a roller coaster ride to the bottom. I felt alone in the world, and unfortunately, I really was. THAT'S when the past starting looking really, really good to me, despite the seemingly go-nowhere job, the quest for the better job, the unending debt and my bad luck with men, despite finding a platonic guy to hang out with and travel with on occasion. Trips to places, concerts, and time to actually socialize with people.

There are certain aspects of technology today that are actually really, really cool. For me, that would be the phenomenon of print on demand and ebooks. I've always written something, but I gave up writing for a long, long time. I don't take rejection well, and I figured "why bother writing" especially when it came to fiction. I was associate editor for a local paper, so I did actually get paid to write, but I didn't write fiction again until 2007, which was 14 years after I'd had a fiction writing class in college. Oh, I took a fiction class in 2006, but somehow that doesn't stand out as much as the one I took in college. Happy with my story, and filled with ego, I went on the web, something we didn't have back in the day, and found someone to buy and publish my story.

So now, it's 2013. I've self-published two collections of fiction as both ebooks, and as print on demand. Someone who reads my column in the Fort Wayne Reader called the editor, in response to the story they did on Served Cold: Tales of Revenge and Redemption. The person said she would pay to see it in print. So, I found a print on demand website, and I saw my work collected in a book. Granted, I had to do it all myself, but I had a sense of accomplishment when I got the book in the mail, and looked at it for the first time.

It's not like I've never self-published before. I published a 'zine, during the 1990s, and met some really cool people in the process. Now, people blog, and while that's cool too, nothing quite beats getting a DIY magazine in the mail.

Those who aren't old enough to remember anything before 2000 might think people like me were hopelessly deprived. Well, we didn't know what we were missing. I wish I'd saved all the notes that I passed and wrote in high school. When I knew no one would publish my rants, I simply typed them up and printed them myself, with my own money. The difference is now, you can reach more people quicker. I do have to say that uploading my work on the web is gratifying, because I've had so many positive comments and urgings to keep writing.

Wouldn't it be great if we could bring the best of the past with us into the future? I wish I could bring the spirit of the 1990s to now. Things seemed better, and I know horrible things have been going on for years, but honestly, I remember such a positive energy from those days. Life seemed FUN, in almost every sense of the word. There were things to look forward to, people to see, places to go.

Now, I am alone. Before, the house would have people going in and out of it. Now, the house is quiet. The people from my past are gone, almost as good as dead, unfortunately. While I have reasons to look forward to the future, I cry for the fuck-ups of my past. Oh, I know it could be worse. But my feeling is that my best days are behind me. The family members who meant so much are gone forever, or else if they aren't, they certainly seem that way.

And maybe I am old. I look back at the past more fondly than I ever did. When I was in high school, I don't remember longing for the days I was in kindergarten. Although I will admit, my best grade was sixth. I had two of my best friends in class, I made good grades, and I hardly missed any school because I wanted to be there. WANTED to be there. And seventh grade was the flipside of sixth. It was the beginning of hell, and how imperfectly I fit into the world. I was not unlike Scarlett O'Hara who lamented that nothing her mother taught her was of any use after the war had ended. And it seemed that way with me; the manners and courtesy that my parents taught me seemed meaningless in the war zone that was middle school and high school.

But things seem a bit clearer now than they have been. I think I will emerge from my financial disaster. I think I've found a career path that I'm good at and that I enjoy, even though to fully pursue it I will have to back to school. That prospect excites and terrifies me. Because the educational ambitions I've had in the past seemed to have crashed and burned mightily. But somehow, I think this one might work. I'm getting great feedback on my writing. Maybe, just maybe, I've figured it out and have come to make peace with certain things and people.

I have to admit, when I see teenager with varsity jackets with 15 on them, I get a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. Has it really almost been 30 years since I've graduated from high school? And what have I learned? That nothing is what it seems. Even when it seems like it's the best thing ever.

So am I old? Or have I just finally grown up? I'm old enough to look back and want the old days back again, but knowing it will never happen. THOSE were my golden years. Unless there is something wonderful that will happen in my future, I think 1989 through early 1998 are going to be the happiest years of my life.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope there are still amazing times ahead.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The One Thing I'm Actually Conservative About


I know, I know. You're shocked. I'm actually CONSERVATIVE about something? Yes. And the thing I'm conservative about is something that people are so "whatever" about, regardless of which way they lean. I may have written about this before, so if I have, forgive me.

The thing I'm conservative about is family. I hate the whole "baby daddy," "baby mama," "blended family," "single mom with boyfriend," "single dad with girlfriend" thing. I especially hate the "moms with multiple kids from multiple dads" thing. But a lot of people seem to be okay with the American family resembling a rather strange neighborhood where mom and dad don't seem to be around. I don't have kids. I knew they wouldn't be in my future either, with my screwed-up relationships when it comes to men (thanks, bro, and all you bullying assholes from school.) A sperm bank might have been an option, but considering my job history, and my childhood, that wasn't even an option either. I figured if I couldn't raise kids as well as my parents did, I wouldn't have them at all. Harsh? Well, sorry. I have low self-esteem and I'm extremely hard on myself, and egotistically, I wish people were more like me in those terms. Women would be thinking a little bit more about having kids and not opening up their legs to everyone.

Ideally, this is what I would like for American families: biological mom, biological dad, both employed, or if one earns more, let's have one parent stay at home. Be married for at least five years, have a stable home, and at least $15,000 saved. Then, you can start a family.

I can just hear the screaming now. But think about it: how many kids grow up in poverty? How many kids would be better off if they had a two parent family? And incidentally, I'm okay with gay marriage, so I'll waive the mom/dad stipulation for certain couples.

Maybe I'm just a bit miffed about women with kids, because as a middle-aged woman with no kids, we aren't worthy of help, should we ever need it. Back in 2008, when I was scraping by, I applied for food stamps and didn't get them. I survived by not paying a lot of the bills I had, and taking whatever work I could in order to bring some money in. I got through, but I realized I don't EVER want to be in that situation ever again. EVER. I also got by on the help my boyfriend's mother gave me. Had it not been for her, I'm not sure what would have happened. She took me to food banks, lent me her cellphone, kept my car's gas tank filled when gas was over $4 a gallon, and helped me with a couple of the jobs I had. She was with me when I burst into tears after the first night of my ice cream truck driving job. Math is not my strong suit and the process of making everything balance at the end of the night was frustrating. I finally figured it out, but I felt like I was being punished, somehow. But if I'd had kids, it might have been different. But no one cares about middle-aged, childless women.

So I get understandably pissed off when I see a woman with six, seven, or eight kids. She may not be getting welfare, but maybe she is. I absolutely hate Octomom. People feel sorry for you if you have kids. They don't feel sorry for you if you don't. I remember a conversation I had with a doctor when I went in to see about my fibroid tumor. I was planning to have surgery to cut off the blood supply to the tumor so it would eventually fall apart. The doctor said I shouldn't become pregnant right away, after the surgery. I told him that wasn't going to happen and why. He said I'd given quite a bit of thought to not being a mom, and that was admirable.

It is. Because having kids is a dammed serious business; one that people today don't seem to consider. They have kids the same way people with dogs say, "oh, let's have puppies!" And it galls me that so-called "conservatives" have kids out of wedlock and see nothing wrong with it. Isn't that the sort of shit liberals do? Part of the reason American society today is in the shitter is people having kids who don't know how to raise them. And people don't like to be told what to do, but if you have kids and my tax dollars have to support them, I have a problem with that. Birth control DOES exist, you know. But no, I'm the one who is looked upon as a freak, because I didn't have kids.