actuality.log


All entries tagged 'relationships'

Friday, December the 3rd, 2010

This is manifestly par for the course, but I recently found myself starting to retreat into my head again in an attempt to process a wide range of feelings. That isn’t to say these are particularly hurtful or negative feelings—you know, about relationships and intimacy and insecurity—just that they’re very intense and demand some attention.

While retreating into a shell often works out (perhaps after some turmoil), there are times when I concede that I just can’t do it alone. I lack the life-experience and a certain width in my world-view to truly grasp and work through the happenings around me. So, on occasion, I do the next obvious thing: turn to the people I’m close to and try talking to them about it. Unfortunately this hurts just as often as it helps.

Therefore, I’ve found myself trying something different these past weeks: turning to popular culture to see current society’s take on affairs. I figured maybe I’ll then realise I’m not so special. Maybe my experiences aren’t actually so out of the norm. Maybe all the ecstasy and turmoil I supposedly go through every day are just regular moments in an average person’s life.

This has led me to voraciously consume a lot of media: the quirky wit of Woody Allen’s movies, the blatant awkwardness of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the pithy realism of Marc Maron’s comedy, the intellectual frankness of Noam Chomsky’s writing. (Why is it that older Jewish guys seem to have a monopoly on neurotic, egocentric cynicism?) And maybe I’m cherry-picking my sources, but their observations seem to suggest that what I’m going through isn’t so abnormal. It is just that life isn’t always easy, and expects some degree of openness to change; not everyone has this. Honesty and intimacy in relationships doesn’t come for free; not everyone is willing to put in the effort. People know that they should pay attention to their heads, but listen only to their hearts at important moments. In short, it is clear that life isn’t perfect.

All I need to realise, I suppose, is that being happy comes when you decide to look beyond the imperfections and appreciate life for what it is.

Saturday, November the 6th, 2010

Long time readers of my journal are no strangers to the fact that my mood is extremely oscillatory. Much like the colour scheme of this site, my mind is either entirely black or entirely white. I can jump several times an hour or day or week or month from exceptional bliss to extreme depression and sorrow. Sure, this lets me feel alive, allowing me to experience life in an intense manner, but it is sometimes scary as these wild swings are not under my control.

The entries in my journal reflect this, albeit in a skewed fashion, because I’m personally more likely to write when I’m down.

The closer I get to Stacey, the more I’m beginning to understand why I might be this way. I seem to have an extremely black and white view of the world around me. People and experiences and surroundings are either “insanely great,” putting me in a state of intense bliss, or “horribly hurtful,” driving me down into the depths of depression. There seem to be no shades of grey in my perception of or response to the world.

The same is true of how I experience the women I am with, including Stacey. For the first months of our relationship, I was in a state of ecstasy. There was nothing she could say or do wrong, and whatever she was was perfect for me. But more recently, things started to change. The more she talked about her past, the more perturbed I got about her sexual history. I started to sink and see everything in a negative light, and there was little she could say or do that would help me.

The darkness had nearly descended completely, until she reminded me that we’re all just humans and have different aspects of our persona that could either please or perturb another. She pointed out that how I might not be a perfect man by any objective standards, yet all that she’s been longing for. Looking into her loving eyes and soft body as she told me all this reminded me of how happy she’s made me this past half year. And that her past is just that, her past. I don’t have to fully understand or accept it right away, just to recognise that through her imperfections, she’s someone who’s capable of making me immensely happy.

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Tuesday, May the 25th, 2010

Very much has happened in my life these past weeks, but I’ve been too busy living it to write about it. Now, on a plane to Paris, I have a few minutes of solitude to jot things down.

It didn’t take very long for Stacey, my psychologist friend, to transition to being my lover and for words like ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ to be bandied about. Before I knew it, we were living together, inseparable, apart from the few agonising hours we needed to spend at work each day. From formal breakfasts with friends, to fun holidays together, to deep post-coital conversations lasting late into the night, I have been rather overwhelmed by so many experiences and emotions. Many of them new; all of them wonderful.

Now I’m sitting at a Parisian café waiting for my food. A little travelling buddy kept me distracted and entertained for much of my flight. Mye, the baby girl of the couple sitting next to me was intensely amused by my face, glasses and hair. She spent the whole flight tugging and trying to chew on anything she could get her tiny hands on. I loved the attention, and her parents, eager to have a few moments rest were happy to let me have her for the entire trip. She was all sorts of cute and nearly drenched my entire shirt with all her drooling.

But enough of Mye.

It’s a strange feeling being in this city. I’ve always liked the way it looks and the way its people look. I’ve enjoyed its cafés and its bars. But this time, it feels cold—even as I soak in this warm bathtub in my hotel room. Yes, I’ve returned to my hotel room now. Dinner without Stacey wasn’t fun at all, and I cut it short. I miss her.

It’s a good thing I’m on a plane returning to home then, into her arms. Thankfully my stay in Paris wasn’t very long, but it did help me realise something. I once knew a German girl, Anna, who was of the opinion that all the people in the world fell into two categories: those with big noses and others with pig noses. At the time she told me this theory of hers, all I could say in response was “poppycock!” But these few days in Paris after months in Scandinavia have made it clear to me what she was trying to say.

I always thought I was attracted to only big noses. Stacey’s got the cutest pig nose, and I miss her so very much. It’s a good thing she’s waiting for me at the next train station. I can’t wait to see her again.

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Tuesday, April the 27th, 2010

“Do you like me as a girl?”

“What?” I muttered back in surprise to meet her tired, green eyes staring softly at me. As I continued to gawk mutely, she gracefully knelt beside me on the couch to elaborate on her question. “Well, it’s clear you really like me as a friend. Do you like me as a girl?”

Of course I did! Did she think I’d have invited her home so quickly after getting introduced, and stayed up all night talking about anything and everything if I didn’t?

I am not entirely sure how it all began.

A close friend of a close friend, it was inevitable that I’d stumble upon her at one gathering or another and we’d get to talking. I think it was the evening we’d all been out to the neighbouring comedy club. The comedienne was mediocre, and my mind had begun to wander. I was drawn to the softness of her eyes and the genuineness of her smile from the instant I noticed her. Her dirty blonde hair, parted and held in place with a cute, purple clip—much like a young girl would have worn it—was framing her face and exposing her expressive eyes behind her chic glasses. The way her nose crinkled every time she tried to adjust them without touching them was adorable!

Everything about her screamed a serenity and a positivity that fascinated me, and I soon braved myself to approach her. Before long, we’d retreated from the group to walk along the pier close by, so that we could focus just on each other.

I remember the smell of the cold ocean breeze hitting my face. I don’t recall anything I said, but I can’t forget how easy it was saying it. That’s been one of the most wonderful things about being with her. Her ability to let you know she genuinely cares about what you have to say: listening, empathising, sharing; without judging. The words escaping her moist, pink lips are ever cheerful, soothing and supportive. You know those people who’re born with innate abilities that make their career choices almost beyond question? I don’t think it will surprise anyone who talks to her for a few minutes to hear that she’s a psychologist.

Parting that evening felt incomplete, but I didn’t think she felt the same way. I was wrong. The next morning, I woke to an e-mail fondly reminiscing the things we’d shared, and sharing some more. How she’d felt challenged by me, and how that was a very good thing. It was clear we had so much more to say to each other, and we decided to meet again as soon as we could. After a few days apart, where annoying life responsibilities—like that lecture I needed to prepare for—got in the way, we found ourselves together at a park. No other friends this time to overwhelm me, just us.

What began at that park in the late afternoon transitioned to my humble abode around midnight. It was early in the morning when she asked me the question; her tired eyes beckoning me for a response.

I wanted to scream out the obvious answer: “Of course! Of course I really, really like you.” But I didn’t. My mind wasn’t prepared for the candidness of her question and it stalled, suddenly nervous, needing to think it through. After a brief, awkward pause, I composed myself and answered it in a strange manner. An honest answer, but still very strange. I don’t know where it all came from—all those probabilities and percentages and all that talk about not being able to open up so much to her if she were a boy instead. I went on an on, talking in circles for what seemed like an eternity until I finally felt I’d blown it and asked, “That wasn’t the right answer, was it?”

“There isn’t a right answer or a wrong one,” she tried to reassure me. “I wanted to know what was going through your mind, and I felt comfortable enough to just come out and ask you. I knew you’d be brave enough to give me a thoughtful answer.”

I’d told her earlier my pantry was bare, and she now suggested we leave to go find breakfast. Quite certain now that I’d blown it, I started to tremble; I spent minutes tying my laces which normally take me seconds. As I was kneeling on the floor fumbling with my shoes, I remarked, “I am not going to turn the question around on you. But I am going to ask you why you asked me.”

“Because I didn’t want to do something indecent,” she sighed softly as she stepped closer beside me. “Indecent? Whatever do you mean?” I egged her on, half-smiling now as I slowly rose. She met my smile with her own. “Like this,” she cooed as she raised herself on her tippy toes and kissed me.

Sunday, January the 24th, 2010

I wish I could say a lot of this to your face, but I won’t. I’m tired just thinking about the drama I’d have to endure.

Every time you go off on one of your rants reminding me how cold I am for not displaying my affection toward you in public, I shut up and hug you to placate you. But the entire time, I’m thinking of only one thing: How I really wish you didn’t have to remind me—how I’d be all over you if only you were smaller, younger and cuter.

I wish you hadn’t lived such a hard life, and didn’t have any of the scars to show for it. Sometimes, I want more than just someone who’s very good to me. Sometimes, I want someone whose physical allure makes it impossible for me not to jump them.

I’ve fantasised and fantasised and fantasised about how my life ought to be, and how much I’d yearn to caress and cuddle the woman I love (yes, even in public, since this is such a big deal to you), but I just can’t seem to make myself behave that way all the time around you. It’s different when I wake up needy in the morn or when I feel vulnerable and alone, but sometimes when we’re out together, I am almost embarrassed to be with you. As wonderful a person as you are and as loving as you are toward me, you’re not what I thought my life’s catch would be. Part of me is always left bitter and unsatiated, leaving me feeling I could do better.

I need you but I don’t want you.

Is it so hard to see now why I have such difficulty expressing my affection for you freely in public? It’d be tantamount to announcing to the world how desperate I am not to be alone.

That, and I don’t want to ever dissuade that cute woman glancing in our direction from talking to me.

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Sunday, November the 15th, 2009

There’s a sweater which, whenever I wear it, never fails to get people fawning over me. It’s this chic, patterned item that works well on its own, but yesterday I had it on as part of a more formal ensemble that aimed for something of a “preppy British schoolboy” look.

The sweater struck again last night.

At a quarter-past-three, as the party was finally winding down, she was huddled close to me baring her every insecurity. She was too drunk to make her own way home, and I only wanted to watch over her to make sure she could safely hail a cab. But she had other plans.

Pressed up against me for support, here she was—one of the prettiest, most confident and capable people I’ve known—telling me how insignificant and uncertain of herself she felt. Her low-cut dress was doing little to hide her ample chest, but I hadn’t the urge to gawk. I held her supportively and listened to what she had to say, trying my best to calm her insecurities with my calm voice. Telling her how I honestly felt about her and her accomplishments; reminding her that she was still young, and had plenty of time ahead of her to explore anything she felt passionate about.

There were a few things about my behaviour last evening that leads me to believe I just might be growing up. First, the thought of taking advantage of her drunkenness didn’t cross my mind. Instead, I felt strangely protective of her. Second, I didn’t fall head over heels for her simply because of her closeness, slinky dress or soft scent. I was looking to be a supportive friend; truly wanting to reassure her that her self-doubts were unfounded, and make sure she got home safe. And finally, it was through reassuring her that I realised how secure I am about fundamental aspects of my self. I might not have figured out where in the world I will be next year, or what I will be doing with my life, but I have no underlying fears about how much I know or what my capabilities are. This awareness of self made me feel rather special, and allowed me to be calm and reassuring without thrusting any of my own neuroses to the fore.

The fact that I was able to serenely pull off all of this—with my actions not being motivated by anything ulterior—makes me feel so much more of an adult. An emotionally-mature adult capable of healthy, sincere relationships with the people I care about.

In other words, I’m beginning to think that maybe it wasn’t the sweater people were fawning over. Maybe it was me.

Wednesday, August the 19th, 2009

It’d been nearly a week and that queasy feeling in Jack’s tummy wasn’t going away. He’d pondered the events of these past days over and over, and it wasn’t clear to him what bothered him more—what had happened, or the way in which she was handling it.

They’d enjoyed a wonderful evening in the park together. She’d lovingly stuffed their picnic basket with a number of delicious goodies, including his favourite snack: praline ice-cream sandwiches. The children playing football in the background, the noisy party-goers at their barbecue grill, the nature-lover meticulously cataloguing different kinds of birds—all the activity around—was lost to them. They were in their own little world. The hours had flown by as they cuddled and conversed, and it was nauseatingly-cute the way she kept insisting on feeding him.

It wasn’t conscious at first, but even through her smiles, Jack could sense the discomfort brewing in her eyes. It didn’t come as a surprise to him when she abruptly told him she’d like to end the evening and go home. By now the agony was apparent in her eyes, and Jack helped her up and cleaned up a bit before they left. Though he had a hunch as to what the problem was, it was clear that she wasn’t in any frame of mind to talk. And so he didn’t ask. She’d always had the most painful periods of any of the women he’d known, and he instinctively gazed at her cute derrière, not to gawk at her as he so often did, but to examine her clothes for spotting. What he saw—the growing blotches of deep red—didn’t leave any doubt in his mind. Unaware of the seriousness of the situation, he wrapped an arm around her and helped her home.

Her blue jeans were a shade of purple by the time they reached.

She wasn’t crying on their way home. She wasn’t crying when she told him. She had an unconcerned look on her face, and as she puffed her 93rd cigarette for the day, she casually tossed out that she’d miscarried. Though he knew that he wasn’t the father, Jack was distraught. The more he attempted to console her (thinking, hoping she needed it), the more she mocked him for his foolishness. She found it rather silly he should care so much for something not his.

He should’ve realised it when she kept up her heavy smoking and drinking even after finding out about the baby. She never wanted it.

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Monday, August the 10th, 2009

So here’s what I just realised: I’m in an unfulfilling relationship. It took me a long time to arrive at that conclusion, and, quite frankly, I’m still not certain whether I can clearly articulate what the problem is. But here’s me trying.

I’ve come to realise over the course of my existence that happiness and sadness, levels of prosperity or contentment and a host of other things are just states of being. As hard as society has tried to condition me into thinking otherwise, I firmly believe that none of these states are inherently better or worse than any of the others. They’re all little more than strokes in the rich canvas of life; some cheerful and colourful, others deep and morose. And as with any masterpiece that isn’t doused with pretty pastel shades, a life needn’t be filled with joy and contentment for it to be meaningful, moving or even beautiful.

I don’t see why more people don’t see this. Why is there a constant quest for happiness and prosperity and popularity? What’s wrong with knowing fully well who you are and what you have—and being fine with everything, including how you feel about it?

Now, I’m generally a very negative person. (But you already knew that.) I don’t see it as a problem, and I don’t want to fight to change it. And this brings us back to what I was trying to say in the first place. I’m in a relationship where I’m never allowed to be morose without incident. I can’t be bitter or sarcastic, nor can I say mean things about the world which I feel has denied me so much. I can’t peacefully sit in a corner and mope, nor can I hold conversations where I repeatedly bring up past mistakes or revisit bad memories.

But guess what, all that stuff—the queasy feeling that comes in my tummy from all that stuff—feels right to me. I don’t want to constantly talk only about positive things. I don’t want to plan for and “fix” any of these things in the future. I don’t even want to fucking smile sometimes. I just want to be who I be, and not have the conversation topic turn toward the one thing I dread the most: Women and their insecurities. How she doesn’t feel adequate. How she’s not pretty enough to satiate me anymore. How she’s not a wonderful enough aspect of my life to make me cheery.

A man can’t just be melancholic anymore and have it be nothing to do with another.

Saturday, February the 14th, 2009

(When it transcends the bad things.)

I’ve come to believe there are essentially two kinds of people in this world: Ones whose first semi-serious relationship blossoms in to a continuous, positive influence in their lives, and the rest of us. Decades may pass since these first encounters, but I’m beginning to think that those whose fledgling first loves end up crashing and burning are forever doomed to wonder what-if, unable to appreciate what they have in their hands, nor able to look hopefully into the future. Scarier still, I think this only gets worse with time.

The trouble, you see, seems to stem from the fact that most memories—especially emotionally-charged ones—are infinitely malleable. They morph steadily as the days pass, seamlessly melding-in elements of fantasy and threads of what you once wished things were. Before long, they’ve ballooned to an unrealistic standard no future relationship can ever live up to, leaving one forever unfulfilled and unhappy.

While it’s quite depressing to think about things like this, the conclusions I have reached are nothing profound. It’s quite apparent that the gap between fantasy and reality in the public consciousness has been steadily growing over the years. What exacerbates the problem for me personally is that I don’t tend to fall for geeks. Sweet-sounding singers, expressive painters and petite pastry chefs maybe, but never the geek. And the more specialised I’ve become over the years, the less likely it’s become I meet anyone but. Which makes it hard not to reminisce about times when the pool was more eclectic.

Tuesday, October the 7th, 2008

This is a forced entry. I haven’t had the remotest urge to write here (I blame µ), but I’m going to try to push myself back into the habit. Brace yourself for an immense drop in quality.

I’m still reeling from an exhausting day that was spent almost entirely in the cold rain outside. There was hiking, archery, climbing-related knot tying, tree climbing (which I shamelessly chickened out of), trivia-quizzing and feet sniffing (by cute little shot-dead-bird-retrieving dogs). I have the nagging feeling one of the activities ended with the penis of a bull, but there was too much cognac involved for me to be sure, and none of this is really central to today’s story.

I realised during the course of multiple conversations during the day that I have a certain style of speaking that leads people to respond to me in one of only two ways: (i) Either they get intimidated/bored (it doesn’t really matter which) and leave me alone, or (ii) they open up to me completely, looking upon me as an entirely sexless shoulder to lean on; both of which suck.

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Friday, August the 8th, 2008

I’m quite convinced the problem with my brain is that it’s not dead—it’s actually capable of thought.

As I lie there exhausted, my heavy eyelids slowly descending over my tired eyes, I feel her snuggle up even closer to me with a contended sigh. That’s when it happens—right when I’m on the brink of actually experiencing a moment of true happiness—my brain begins to race in a frenzied panic:

“But she’s not petite enough. Shouldn’t she be younger? She doesn’t look anything like what you’ve always longed for. Does she have to be such a tomboy all the time? I wish she were more of a girly-girl; it wouldn’t hurt for her to pay more attention to herself…”

How much I adore her, or how good we’ve been together, or how much fun I have when she’s around, or how liberating it’s been to openly share things with her… all of this, every single positive facet, quickly fades into the distant background. My brain has decreed she doesn’t look like she “ought to,” and its own voice is the only one it’s willing to hear.

The sad part is, I’m not able to convince it that it’s wrong. Superficial? Of course. Acting idiotically to our detriment? Hell yes!

But wrong?

Tuesday, May the 27th, 2008

A starving scientist marrying a starving artist doesn’t make much business sense. It makes good economic-compatibility sense, but not so much business sense.

Hmm.

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Wednesday, February the 13th, 2008

“But do you feel she’s pretty?” I push on, knowing fully well I can’t implicitly trust her answer. My mother has this odd way of rating the attractiveness of women, and someone who’s a 9 in her eyes is realistically more like a 6. But I chose to ask anyway, for I’d decided to let such details factor into my life’s decisions.

You see, as slowly as things have been progressing, they’ve generally evolved positively and I now have few job options on hand—spanning Europe and the United States. I’ve even received official word from the Homeland Security-types that I am not evil and can legally pursue employment in this country.

But even so, my life has been relatively stagnant. The sticking point seems to be nothing in particular other than me circumspectly dragging my feet—hoping to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of every one of these opportunities, so as to make the one true right decision™.

Incorrectly reading this to be depression-driven sluggishness, my mother occasionally tries to help out by stepping in and helping with an other entirely different problem—mate selection. Not wanting to really exert herself however, she sticks to her tiny, close-knit grapevine and attempts to casually bring up in passing conversation her friends’ nieces and daughters. And since my work search is rather wide, geographically, there are times when it snags one of these women as well. At which point I push her for details, for I am evil like that.

Hey, if you’re going through so much rigour to make the one true right decision™, you might as well work all the angles with all the facts, right?


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