Category Archives: love

RIP Pete

Pete and BryanIt’s sadly ironic that I showcased Bryan’s cat Pete in my blog so recently, and today he is gone. Not long after that post, Pete was diagnosed with kidney failure. It’s not uncommon for older cats, but Pete really wasn’t that old, which makes it all the more unfortunate. Bryan and I noticed he’d been more absent than usual one weekend, and then that he was looking skinny and acting sluggish, so Bryan took him to the doctor the following week. The vet reported that his kidneys had failed already, giving him a couple weeks to a couple months to live. So Bryan broke out the expensive wet food (easier for Pete to eat because of his existing dental issues) and tried to fatten him up and keep him happy.

Pete waits patiently for chiliBut, even with a few mornings pestering Bryan in bed for more food or water (his usual repertoire) his condition worsened more quickly than the doctor estimated. On Wednesday night, he climbed into the bathtub after Erica had taken a shower, never a good sign with sick animals. We put his water bowl in with him, and he drank for several minutes straight. Later that night, he was in the corner under Nick’s bed. It was obvious he was not gaining weight and it was time to put his quality of life first.

So, Bryan made the incredibly hard decision to let him go. He and his mom took Pete to the vet today. And that was that. Even now, it makes me tear up to think about it. I know I have a soft heart anyway, especially when it comes to animals, but I’d already grown to love that little orange fuzzball. Even with matted fur on his little legs, stinky breath and goobers on his face, I would’ve let him sit on my lap for hours if he would’ve tolerated me that long. But, although it hurts that he’s gone, and my heart goes out to Bryan, Pete and his Snack PackNancy and the rest of Pete’s extended family, it hurt more to see him in pain.

Erica came up with a story once that Pete was going to Space Camp. She told Bryan he could come, too, if he hid in Pete’s backpack and promised not to eat his Snack Packs. When I was at the market last night gathering supplies to cook dinner at Bryan’s, I saw a package of Jell-O pudding cups in the clearance section. I thought Pete wouldn’t mind the brand discrepancy, so I bought them. I brought him a cup last night, for his ultimate trip to Space Camp this afternoon.

We’ll miss you, buddy. We won’t be the same without you. We’re already changed because of you. And even though I barely got to know you, I love you dearly, Peters. Have a great time at Space Camp. :*)

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the God I believe in

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the turning of a heart

I don’t really have time to write at the moment, but I’m doing it anyway, before I forget what this feels like. I know part of it is just that I’m seeing familiar faces for the first time since Christmas, but seeing my sister and her family is just amazingly powerful for me. They drove 13 hours from Michigan loaded down with a camper, two large dogs, three bikes and their 10 year old in tow. They came to Memphis, of all places. And while my sister mentioned that it’s just nice going somewhere they’ve never been, Memphis isn’t exactly a tourist attraction—my presence here clearly played a role in their choice of destination. Which is almost surreal to me. To think that anyone—let alone my older sister—would drive all the way to the Mid-South to spend Easter weekend with me is just… beyond words.

I’m an awkward person. I’ll be the first to admit that. So I don’t think my thankfulness translates very well when we’re face to face. I’m definitely smiling and upbeat, but I doubt I come across as bowled over. Because when I went there at lunch today and ate a PB&J, generic Cheetos and a glass of milk, I couldn’t have been more thankful. Even with a wet dog nose stuffed in my armpit while I ate my sandwich.

In about an hour, they’ll be coming over to DU for a quick tour of the lobby and my office before we close early for the Easter holiday. Then we’ll be finding a local pizza place… somewhere… and hanging out for the evening. I still remember the days of old when we’d do that very thing, in one of their various condos or another, watching “Friends” before it was in reruns, listening to awesome ’90s easy listening. We’d almost always have pizza. And everything felt safe and wonderful. I miss that feeling.

I know my sister doesn’t know this blog exists, but thank you, sis. I’ll say it more than once this weekend, and probably several more times through e-mail after you’ve left, but thank you for coming here, for making such a long trip to see me. For the e-mails we’ve exchanged over the past month, for your willingness to give me another chance to be your sister, to be part of your family. I may not deserve that chance, but if you’re willing to give it… well, I won’t let you down. Thank you for being there for me, then, now and in the future.

[I wrote a very brief synopsis of the reasons behind my strained relationship with my sister on April 6.]

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I kept my beer tear free

After some indecision at work today, the aforementioned coworker and I decided to go to trivia at the bar instead of the Grizzlies game. We did glance up from time to time to see the score, and, now that I look it up, I see the Grizz did beat the Wiz (haha), but oh well. We needed to boost our team’s record before the semi-finals!

Background: For just over a month, some of my coworkers and I have been participating in bar trivia. (When I say “some” coworkers, what I mean is that the first week, we had four people total. Then I missed two weeks with pneumonia. Then went once with three total and twice now with just the one other guy. We are die hard.) Memphis has a citywide trivia league that parallels those of Birmingham (Dennis participates there) Knoxville, Chattanooga, etc. They hold it every night of the week at bars all over. This particular coworker also participates with another team on Thursday nights in Midtown. The emcees aren’t the same, nor are the questions, so you could compete every night if you so desired. The topics are varied (though tonight’s seemed to focus a bit too much on royalty and presidents for my liking) as are the difficulty levels of the questions.

Now, last time we went the gruesome-twosome route, we kicked ass. We ended up in a strong second place behind only the team that cheats relentlessly by looking up answers on their smartphones. Lame. It’s bar trivia, people. Grow some balls and try to get them right on your own. I? I know almost nothing. And yet we continue to place in the top three every time with fewer people and no cheating. Funny how that works.

Anyway, between this other guy and me, we pulled out some crazy right (and wrong) answers last time. And tonight was no different, though we didn’t do quite as well and ended up in third. However, “Spinal Tappin’ That Ass” is a worthy opposing team and they took a solid second place, something with which we were fine. But “Boats ‘N Hoes”? They need to fall off a cliff. Again, they ended up with an inexplicably strong lead, right at the end. I hate cheaters. BUT we got some really random answers right, some stupid ones wrong, etc. It was a great time as always.

After trivia ended and we collected our $10 gift certificate for the third-place finish, the coworker and I discussed life, love, psychology—things we’ve discussed before and I’ve been mulling over for the past several weeks. I probably should just stop mulling before I drive myself crazy about it. But I love getting other perspectives and hearing about people’s lives. What does it mean to him to be married? What’s it like having been together 10 years? How do you maintain a strong level of trust for the other person? What does love mean to you? Fascinating.

Sadly, this intense discussion meant I missed Dennis’ goodnight call, so I’m bummed about that. But I’ll be packing tomorrow night in preparation for my Mighty Return to Birmingham on Friday!! Even though he was just here, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him again. We will be rooting for opposing teams in one of Saturday’s games, so that should be highly entertaining. And we have a lot of real-estate browsing to do, since he’s in the market for a house. I’m excited. =)

And did I mention? Our trivia team’s name is “Bigger, Badder, Bushier.” You can decide if, in proper bar-trivia fashion, that name is supposed to be a political reference, a sexual reference, or both. Goodnight!

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Filed under fun, happiness, lessons, love, recap, thoughts

extra point

While in the shower just now, I figured out why this issue of romantic love is so burdensome. It was common knowledge to everyone else, I’m sure, but sometimes I’m slow on the uptake.

Loving friends and family is easy because (usually) you don’t have to stop loving one to love another. You don’t have to choose between mom and dad, or between friend 1 and friend 2. (I suppose there are circumstances that call for exclusivity, but in those cases, I’d say it gets as complicated and frustrating as romantic love.)

So I am constantly aware that I must choose one person. He must be the right person and fulfill all my needs for all time. And, even more challenging, I must fulfill all his needs for all time. If you really put some time into pondering that, you’d gladly join me curled up in the corner in the fetal position. Or you’d just laugh it off and let it go, tossing the keys to fate or God or the universe and climbing into the passenger seat of Forever.

I need to work on that.

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sometimes the list gets in the way

Oh, dual-meaning subject lines. I love you.

First, a quick life recap for this week: Dumped by church singles group, speed-dating make-up canceled due to disappearing coordinator, made a date that involves a four-hour drive to Alabama next weekend, spent entirely too much time talking and laughing on the phone, got -5 hours of sleep, felt like it was -5 outside, agreed to babysit for three children tonight and sustained myself solely on the joy of having the house to myself.

Now, the subject line. I won’t go into meaning #2 quite yet, but meaning #1 is that I’ve been making this list of potential blog post topics, but now that I have said list, I can’t decide which one to write on first. Both major ideas are fairly timely, but both also have a solid chance of screwing with upcoming Alabama date. But I will be brave.

the absolute fucking mystery of love

I have several problems with love. Not the kind you give your brother or your best friend, but the kind you shower upon the (presumably) opposite sex. I think my problems with it stem from the fact that I’m totally inept at it. Or what I think is “it.” That might be another problem.

As I believe I’ve mentioned before in this very journal, I’ve said “I love you” quite a bit in the past 6 years. I’ve gone through four major relationships full of “love” and swooning and ridiculous plans for a future that just didn’t exist beyond the 11-month mark. In Tod’s case, it was longer, but the end was inevitable. But was the love real? I have to think it was. I have to think that because it felt so much more real than in the past.

But I am a slave to overanalysis, so I can’t just sit here assuming that I was experiencing actual love. And the kicker is that love is so subjective, there’s no thermometer out there to show me whether I was actually in the right zone or not.

So, as I swim around in the crazy world of dating Web sites and singles groups (assuming I can find a new one) and late-night phone calls with southern men, I have to wonder if I’d recognize love. Even if it slapped me across the face like a cold trout, I’m not sure I’d know if it was real.

How do you know if you’re in love? Is “the one” any sort of reality for the average person? Is there an idiot’s guide out there for people who’ve gone through their lives developing major crushes but never really connected with someone who gave them chills or made them walk on air? Because I’ve never been there. I’ve swooned, sure. I’ve felt tingles while kissing and blushed often and smiled when I saw a certain number on my caller ID. But was that love?

I know a handful of couples who are in the engaged phase right now. I think I might envy them more than the ones who’ve graduated to married status, because even though there’s a chance that follow-through will fail, it’s so slim and they’re so insanely happy that they can revel in the absolute glowing joys of love without yet having to deal with the long-term struggles of mortgages, mid-life crises and wrangling their kids. But how do they know? Why are the chances of failure presumed so slim? Is it because they are in that pre-honeymoon honeymoon phase that allows them to be blind to the toils of the future? Or was it something that screamed out to them, ‘This is it!’ the moment they met, on their first date, with their first kiss, on some overly romantic night under the stars?

I look at Mandy and Jason and long to know how they know, how they knew, how they decided that they were the right people for each other. (If you guys have an answer, please feel free to comment with it.) Jenny and Chris. Other couples who don’t read my blog. Did you get that overwhelming feeling like they write about in books and convey in tense movie moments? Was it immediate or was it gradual? How did you know there wasn’t someone else around the corner who would have just as much in common with you, or make you feel just as much at ease or maybe even make you smile even more?

That last question is toughest for me. I feel as though each subsequent relationships of mine has been more valuable than the previous, as I tend to follow the typical pattern of learning more about myself and my wants, and also not repeating mistakes. But I still find myself getting all doe-eyed pretty easily, and I wonder if I’m not reacting for the worst possible reasons, instead of real, tangible, meaningful ones. I have to wonder how many great relationships sprang from stupid crushes or immediate infatuations that grew and developed into something bigger and better. But at what point is it meaningful? And at what point can you look at each other and think, “My future,” without wondering if they’re looking at you and thinking, “Just one more date, then I’ll let her down easy.” And how do you know that this guy – not that guy, or that one over there – is the one? Or do you just eventually stop wondering and enjoy what you’ve found?

It is all this confusion over love that tempts me to forget about the opposite sex. Unlike the normal woman who’s rolled through life with relatively uneventful relationships, maybe a few crushes here and there, I’ve worn myself out on misplaced, unrequited affection. I got too interested too fast and fell hard – usually right on my face. So, even though the most recent edition of that behavior barely has had time to get cold in the pan, I have reverted to this sort of guarded, jaded, skeptical, hard mass that refuses to believe that anything good can come of those moments where I feel my knees turn to jelly or my heart rate increase dramatically for some reason other than an intense cardio session.

Recently, I started talking to this guy in Alabama. And, before that, I had a single date with a nice Memphian who has yet to suggest getting together again. And I look at these two individuals who are very, very different, and because they’re both from OKCupid, I am forced to wonder if either of them is my “soul mate.” But because wondering that often tends to cause me great grief, and muddy the waters needlessly, I am trying desperately not to.

Can you kill a soul-mate connection by being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Is God involved in this whole situation? How are you supposed to know what to do? Is it possible to compartmentalize your life enough to set aside your other priorities and focus on figuring out whether you’ve found someone great? Or will those other compartments inevitably spill over and remind you that you’ve got all these things going on and you have no time for love?

I’m pretty sure this entry now contains a record number of mostly unanswerable questions. And practically no direction or point, except to say that love is an absolute fucking mystery. And there are times I wonder if it actually exists, or if we aren’t all just looking for fulfillment through an activity partner, someone who matches us in bed, someone who knows (or learns) how to touch us in just the right way to make our hearts beat faster or someone who maintains high levels of good chemicals in our brains by making us laugh or looking really, really hot on a daily basis. It all boils down to science and hormones and instinct, but I really would like it to be more meaningful than that.

So, if you have answers, please share them, as apparently there is no Idiot’s Guide to Love on the marketplace today. Or at least not one that makes sense to me. In the meantime, I will continue being the world’s biggest skeptic and trying not to get ahead of myself. And hoping that the list – and this time I mean the list of requirements I seem to have pieced together for a potential mate (meaning #2) – doesn’t get in the way.

(Also, as feared, this entry did not come out dripping with eloquence as I’d hoped. But this is what you get for now, until I can regroup and come up with something better. For now, I have to drive to Mississippi and watch three lovely kids for two hours while their parents go on a much-needed date. I am challenging myself!)

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destiny

I wonder how long it takes the average person to find a mate. I realize that finding a “mate” doesn’t mean staying married or having chosen the “right” one, but I just wonder. Because, of course, I haven’t given up hope. But I have to consider the possibility that I’m destined for perpetual singledom. This is not a low self-esteem issue, but one of practicality, precedent and realism.

As my longtime readers know, my personality is obsessive by nature. Now, after a time, it settles down, but in the initial moments of any new phase in life, I have a one-track mind. So, when I date a guy, it’s all about him for a time, then I mellow out. When I get a new job, it’s all about work. When I refocus on exercise, I’m at the gym 2 hours every night. I’m never as focused with hobbies and extracurriculars, but I used to be when I’d get over-involved with church groups and attempts at getting out and being social.

I wonder if this dooms my relationships to fail. Or my pre-relationships. Or just me in general. Because the other person is almost always unaware of the turmoil happening upstairs. If a man does not seem equally obsessed, I get all disappointed, like it’s normal to think about one person 24/7 (I learned this from country songs and fairy-tale movies, by the way; real men don’t do this). And I get irritable or pull away from the situation, wanting to guard my feelings, needing to “forget all about” Mr. X. That’s happened one too many times now, so I see the pattern – it’s bold like neon-green argyle. Trust me.

But, aside from those mistakes I make, I am just noticing this theme in my life of solitude. I try not to project too much because I recall well the days when Mandy didn’t have crushes or boyfriends either. And I know there are others who are single more often than not, or maybe even haven’t had a significant long-term relationship. But they seem fairly few and far between. And who’s to say they also won’t end up eternally single? M2, for example. He’s awesome and a total catch, but his standards are high, he’s got a lot going on in his life, etc. And I’m sure he could handle being single forever, but he probably doesn’t want to. I don’t want to either. But I wonder if it’s my lot.

Many people will say that my singleness is rooted in the fact that I don’t “put [myself] out there” enough. This is probably a major factor, yes, but I look at the friends who have found boyfriends-turned-husbands through their jobs, friends or everyday circumstances and I wonder why I should have to go out of my way to find someone. Should I have to resort to online dating sites, speed-dating events and the local club scene to find my future spouse? Because, while the first two really are viable options for connecting with people, I’ve found it difficult thus far to take a single spark over the Internet and turn it into a long-term love affair of kismet foreverness. But maybe that’s just me.

I wonder if online dating is a product of necessity or one of over-globalization. Back in the day, people married people they didn’t want to just because they were living within a 5-mile radius of their family’s farm. As time wore on, people had more options, but they still managed to pull from their smallish pool of acquaintances. Now the world says, “Find your soulmate in Hong Kong! Fiji! The Netherlands!” Like if I go after the entire male portion of the 6 billion I’ll have better luck…

Anyway, back to the obsession thing. I also find it stifling because, even if I’m not creepily craving attention from a certain male, I will regret losing track of all the other things I spent time obsessing over prior to his entry into my life. I will stop going to the gym, forget to call people back, not read books or enroll in classes at the local community college just for fun. And while, like I said, my focus will eventually shift from him, adding him as a semi-permanent facet to my life doesn’t allow me to re-obsess over those other things. I am forever dividing my attention, which, for some reason, has never suited me very well.

I imagine myself someday having a dog. And the dog and I will go on walks and snuggle on the couch while I watch stupid movies. I will bake dog biscuits and find doggy playmates for him/her. It will be like my surrogate mate AND child rolled into one bounding, furry creature. Sometimes, I think I’m OK with that. Because I do know a couple people like that, and they seem well adjusted. But then I remind myself that it would be really nice to share my future with a speaking individual who could kiss me (with appropriate use of tongue), hold me, share more of my life with me than a dog realistically could. I could still do without the children part of things, but the husband… I just don’t know.

But I can’t use any of my past relationships to say, “Hey, I think I could find someone and make it happen.” Because they were all pretty much ruses. No offense to past boyfriends who read this, but seriously? We both knew it wasn’t going to last. And when I think about that, and use those relationships as references, love seems like a farce. I know it’s not, when I see other couples who are filled to the brim with every joyful, amazing emotion for each other. But for me? I don’t know if love is as genuine. Or if I’ve ever really experienced it, no matter how many times I’ve said it. They say you just “know” when it’s love, but if you’ve never “known” in the past, who’s to say you ever will? We are not all destined to find someone to love. And, sure, I could find someone I don’t really love who’s stupid enough to marry me, but why would I want that? As much as a husband sounds great, I’d much rather remain single for the rest of my life than live a lie.

This all boils down to more wondering. It doesn’t inspire me to go out there and make several more dates on OKCupid, or get a makeover before next week’s speed-dating excursion. It makes me feel kind of cynical. And I’d like to know NOW that I’m never going to find anyone so I can just stop wondering about it. I think, sometime soon, when the dating-site efforts have ebbed, I will just stop thinking about it, stop trying. And maybe I’ll still find someone with no effort at all. Or maybe I won’t.

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