~Friday, July 31, 2009

Men are people too

The other week I searched for a box in the back of my closet in my mother's house. I put it there when I moved in with Scott almost 2 years ago. It was my single's box, filled with old boyfriend mementos and some self-help books. With my cheek pressed against its cardboard side, I reached my arm in and fished out Seduction of the Stars, a go-to manual describing the nature of a relationship with someone based on his or her astrological sign. With a new man comes a new chapter.

I read the few pages about the Scorpio and frowned. I flipped to the beginning of the book and read my own chapter, the Taurus, and frowned even more. It's not the same as it used to be, reading the book. I just ended up feeling foolish as I tossed the book back into the box which also contained He's Just Not That Into You, Be Honest: You're Not That Into Him Either, The Rules, and Why Men Love Bitches.

I came to the realization that there is no book for this. I was violating all the rules in all the relationship books by simplying being myself and being honest. And I felt the rewards of it 10 times over.

I was honest when I asked Christopher his intentions fairly early on in spending time with him.

Because I took that step, Christopher was honest with me about his job. I, in turn, may have cleared up a confusing statement I made about being in the city (for work) that could easily be taken as having my own apartment. (He acted all horrified over the deceipt until I said, "Tell me about that job again," and he promptly dropped it.)

There was in incident in which he booted up the lap top and put it in my lap and his last web search came up for anti-depressants. He was embarassed and said he did the search for his father. I was honest and told him I was on them before and they were my breath of fresh air until I was laid off and couldn't afford them anymore. He responded by disappearing in his bedroom and coming out with a bottle in his hand.

Because of this honesty, I believe he introduced me to his brother.

When I brought up how I felt that his friends hate me (3 and a half years later, I'm still waiting for a return phone call) he asked that wasn't it more important how he felt about me than how they did? And then he promptly told me being friends with them was overrated anyway and he hardly sees them anymore.

A few weeks ago he sent me a text asking about my Facebook status that confessed I had both a good and bad weekend and he wanted to know if he was the bad part. I could have said anything other than the truth, but I sent back, "You were bright spot of my weekend."

He called me three times that night. He was open with me and made future plans with me. He told me he sleeps better when I'm around.

And finally last weekend I asked if he was an affectionate person.

"What do you mean by affectionate?" he asked. We were laying on top of his bed spooning. At that moment he was the big spoon and I thought it would be the best time to ask.

"Do you like to kiss and hold hands and that kind of thing." Because, sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't. The inconsistency of it was making me neurotic.

"Yeah," he chirped.

"You don't project that. Like at all," I flat-out told him.

He thought for a minute. "Defense mechanism," he said quietly.

I don't know who this person is, the person I'm playing. I've never been honest and confident and open to getting hurt. Everything I've been through tells me that I should be more afraid and more damaged than ever. However I feel like I've been through the worst of life and am out of the other side. No man can hurt me as much as Scott did. I will never feel like that again because I am making smarter decisions. So even if I get hurt by men in life, it won't compare to what I've already experienced and I know I will be just fine in the end. I am so sick of lies that I'm living my life as honestly as possible and I feel that I'm attracting the truth to me.

Being honest has helped me see that Christopher isn't the only person to change in the last few years. Through my openness I see how my actions directly affect the boys I date. I've previously viewed men as unfeeling adversaries from whom I had to protect myself. I've never felt that men had emotions that could rival mine. But I've learned that men are people too. Façade begets façade and truth begets truth.

Maybe Christopher didn't think he was so perfect years ago living in his fancy city-view apartment in his Calvin Klein jeans and Armani shoes. Maybe that was his façade to the world. At 24, I was too intimidated by the together-seeming 30-something professional, so I put on my brand names and we sat in front of that 12' x 12' window of the city, not saying much of anything except for Calvin Klein written across our asses. How silly it all seems now.

~Thursday, July 30, 2009


I mentioned earlier that I've had a few set backs with Christopher. The thing is he doesn't know about them; they were all self-inflicted freak-outs on my part.

M-Joy got a frantic e-mail from me earlier this month when I panicked because Chrtistopher was being KIND and HONEST and AFFECTIONATE. I apparently took this as a sign from the devil.

"Ok, I am having a really hard time wrapping my brain around this affection," I wrote. "What's with the sudden and dramatic change? Does a guy just make a decision like that and commit to it?

"And my problem for you is I apparently still haven't gotten over some of the disappointments I experienced with him last time 'cause I'm still bringing that stuff up and kind of retroactively scolding him. I am beginning to think that I don't know what a healthy relationship looks like even if it bit me in the face, and I don't think I know how to be in one."

M-Joy is one of the few people in my life who gives really solid advice that I should follow 100% of the time. We e-mailed back and forth, her calming me down with each e-mail until she wrote something that just clicked:

"You are so concerned with missing a warning sign that everything is a warning sign."

And that's why I threw a minor fit because he kissed me in a Blockbuster Video.


But slowly my issues surfaced yet again. I had somehow then decided that Christopher's attention towards me was self-serving and superficial.

On my way home from a date with myself late one Friday night, my phone lit up in the darkened car with a text from Christopher. He read my Facebook status about happy hour with friends and was checking up on my whereabouts. I responded (too quickly) and turned up the volume of the CD I was listening to as if the deafening music could drown out the thoughts in my head of why is he just contacting me now after a few days of silence. All I got out of it was an ear ache.

He invites me over for yet another Saw and I leave for his house immediately because it's almost midnight. I arrive in the city for the 3rd time that day after putting in a very full Friday of work and social activities. He showered. He shaved. He ran out and bought beer. My pink beer coozy I left at his apartment was frozen and waiting for me, but I wasn't impressed because Christopher had been inconsistent that week.

After the movie, Christopher felt like a bath. I chuckled to myself. I remember this. I knew what was coming from the same night over 3 years ago. He made a hot bubble bath. Lit candles. Turned off the lights and put in a Harry Connick, Jr. CD. I assumed the position, the same as last time, craddled between his legs Pretty Woman-style as he scooped water and poured it on me.

I was not impressed. I was too caught up in the inconsitency of his affection and whether or not he truly liked me. And I'm smart enough to know that if I have to ask myself that question then I already know the answer. I'm too busy seeing his game and writing off the night to even consider he's trying to be romantic.

"Forever, for Now" begins to play and Harry Connick, Jr. croons, "If nothing lasts forever/I guess I better/Take you forever/For now." I openly scoff.

"What?" he asks.

"That's such a guy thing to say," I sneer.

"What? Forever for now?"


The chorus repeats itself and I scoff again, so much so that Christopher skips the CD ahead to the next song.

And then he washes my hair. Okay, that move was a bit surprising. He leaned forward and kissed the nape of my neck. I was so panic-stricken in confusion that I didn't even respond. This was new and unexpected. I began considering the possibility that I may have been wrong. My mind is whirling as he tries again and I at least have the capacity to kiss him back and make out with him a little.

We end up in bed. Afterwards he says he's sore because it's been so long since he was with someone and he's out of shape. And then he wants to know why I'm not sore. When I stayed silent, trying to wrap my head around this whole night, he presses again implying that I'm not sore because I'm with other people. I kissed his shoulder and told him he would be the only reason that I would be sore and I wonder what kind of sick game is he playing. Does he care or is he just being the biggest asshole ever?

And that was the night the inconsitency stopped. It turned out I was wrong. I was wrong about everything. Christopher cared and I almost missed it because I was making up scenarios in my head. I wish I could have that night over again just so I could enjoy it this time.

It's made me question all of my judgments with Christopher. It's quite possible that all the doubt I had in my head regarding him was my own sabotage. He was different last time too, but I think I really was the cause of my own demise years ago.

~Monday, July 27, 2009

Manic Monday

I'm over being scared (for the time being) about my move this week. The situation has officially been upgraded to exciting. I went couch shopping last weekend. Because I spent so much on my bedroom furntiture, I didn't want to spend more than $300 on a new couch. I ended up at Big Lots and found a brand-name couch that fit all my needs (can stretch out from head to toe and not touch either end, enveloping without looking 80's or overstuffed, acceptable neutral color) for $250 and was able to take it home same day, so I'm really excited about that. When I moved out of my last apartment, I threw out a lot of things in those horrible 3 hours. Replacing what really needed to be replaced is helping with the starting-over feeling and my apartment seems extra new with all my new stuff. I can't wait to see how it all comes together.

I was reading some blogs during my lunch hour and I was elated to see we have other bloggers moving this week and they are also viewing it as starting over, so not only am I really excited to see how my life is going to turn out, but I'm also equally as excited to see what happens to Gekko Girl and Nutty Cow.

Another thing I'm totally stoked about is that I decided to pay out the ass and hire movers. So no sweating for me on the first day of August. No shouting "Pivot!" with couches that won't fit in stairwells. Just a lot of pointing and directing for me, which I decided that I'm good at.

I've had a few setbacks in regards to Christopher, but these were all self-inflicted and corrected very quickly with the help of good friends M-Joy and MamaBear. I'm beginning to wonder how much of three years ago with Christopher was my fault because I did a lot of blaming on him. All of this deserves its own up-coming post, but I wanted to share that I'm borderline giddy today.

~Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Watched and Weary

My mother went out of town this week for the sole purpose of having a private investigator put on my step-father to get photographic evidence of him cheating for leverage in the divorce. My newest designated job was to sit at home and call the PI whenever my step-father left the house.

The PI started calling me at work before I even left for the weekend Friday afternoon. "I'll be home at 6," I told them. "I'll let you know what's going on then."

I jogged in the (empty) house and snapped the leash on the Femme Fatale's collar. I had a busy night ahead of me: happy hour with the friends at 6:30, followed by an 8:00 movie. Right on time, my phone rang.

"I just got home from work and he's not here," I breathlessly told them.

"Yeah, we know. We saw you."

I stopped in my tracks. I knew my mother hired a PI and yet I still felt jolted and scared. I knew they would be watching various places. I just didn't know they would see me. I stammered, quickly trying to remember if I picked my nose or adjusted my underwear while running into the house and if this moment was forever caught on tape now. "You're saw me?" I screeched.

The female investigator of the team laughed. I felt somewhat comforted that the female member called me. If it was the male member, I don't know if I would have recovered quickly, if at all. It was scary knowing someone saw me and watched me without my consent. I mean, I knew, I just didn't put two and two together.

"Man, you're good." If I knew about the PI and still didn't notice them, then my step-father wouldn't have a clue.

The PI asked all the places he could be, because he was nowhere to be found. "I don't know what to tell you," I said. "He lies about everything so I don't know where his regular places are."

I was left with the instructions to call them when he returned home. Only when I got home at 10:30 p.m. from my movie, he still wasn't there. I called the PI.

"He's still not here. I didn't know if I should call you or not," I told them.

"Oh we know," the PI responded. "We're watching him right now. He's at the woman's house. He's been here since we last spoke. we have tape of him mowing her lawn, feeding her cats, and working on some project together in the kitchen. He's even went to Home Depot to get her a can of paint. They kissed as he walked out the door, but it was quick and daylight and we're not as bold during daylight. We have enough evidence to show intent on cheating even if we don't have any intimate moments."

"Will that be enough in court?" I asked.

"We believe so. Just don't tell your mother, we don't want to upset her yet."

Knowing the truth and seeing the truth are still two different things for me, because I was still shocked. Even though I saw the phone bill and the text messaging records, I was shocked.

I've had about all the drama I can take for one year. The worst part is it isn't even close to being over. My mother wasn't going to serve my stepfather with the divorce papers until I moved out, per my request. I asked her since I was moving out earlier than expected, was she going to have him served earlier. She said yes. It's hard pretending, she said.

Not only is it hard, but it's exhausting. The sight of my step-father disgusts me. I won't go near the living room or the couch he's always sitting on. The confidence I gained with the return of Christopher is slowly slipping away. It's harder to be happy these days; I have to actively pursue it. I'm sleeping more, yet still don't feel rested.

I'm weary.

~Monday, July 20, 2009

Home to Me

Well I did it. I signed a lease this weekend on an apartment. It was the very first apartment I looked at weeks ago, and everything I viewed since then was just to comparison shop or to try to talk me out of it.

It's on the west side (the building states it's Upper West Side, but let's face it. This isn't New York). It's the largest apartment I've had in the city at over 800 square feet. It's also the nicest with a foyer, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, nice cabinetry, and spacious closets. The garden tub could easily fit two. Breakfast is also provided every Saturday morning for all the residents.

The building security is pretty tight. Not only is the parking garage gated and locked, but all the stairwells and elevators also require an access card. I guess it would be annoying for visitors to constantly have to be buzzed in, but with the crime of my last neighborhood (and the lack of visitors I'll likely have) this is a welcome change.

Before I looked for an apartment, I decided on a maximum rental payment that I would not go over. This rent is a dollar beneath my maximum. I tried to find an apartment that was cheaper, and I viewed some, but I didn't love them as much as I loved this one. And I justified it by telling myself after everything I've been through, I deserve an apartment that I love. I'm still not sure that this was the right decision. Although with this building I'm avoiding a gas bill and my good credit score was my deposit, so it's all relative I guess.

The only catch was to get the apartment I wanted for the price I wanted, I had to take the next available apartment instead of them holding it for me therefore losing profit. Instead of moving in a month, I move in two weeks. which in my head was a lot faster than I was prepared for.

After I left the leasing office, I drove straight to the furniture store and picked out a new bedroom set. My old hand-me-downs were in pretty bad shape so I sold them at a yard sale last month. I picked out a new bed, nightstand, and armoire with the intention of adding a dresser when I can afford it. I financed 40% of it for a year with no interest and I wrote a check for the rest.

I've never bought new furniture before. It felt weird to point at things lined up against a wall and have a middle-aged salesman running around to assist me. He measured things when I requested it and he worked it up with the dimensions of my new bedroom. I am not used to being catered to.

I'm also not used to spending that much money. With the rent and the new furniture, I hit the top of my financial security. I worry that I spent too much money. I haven't been in debt in for a while and I worry that the $1,200 I financed will break me. I'm worried that I'll run through my savings.

Even still, my new rent is still cheaper than the rent at the apartment I had with Scott (which I got stuck paying more often than not). And water and electricity for one will be less.

I guess I'm just scared. Of living by myself again. Of becoming lonely. I'm moving out to avoid living with the stress and repercussions of my mother's impending divorce and I'm afraid it won't make me happy. I ran around this weekend and made all of these decisions like it was my god-given right, and now I'm terrified of the consequences.

What if they weren't the right decisions?

~Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Schadenfreude at its finest

When my dog The Femme Fatale doesn't want to acknowledge my existence, she turns her face away from me. It's like if I am not looking at you, you can't see me.

The other day she was parked under the table in the living room and let out one of those double-syllable burps. Ba-burp! It was as loud as a human's and I shrieked with laughter at her. On cue, The Femme Fatale turned her nose and watched the wall. She did not like me laughing at her.


Last night at Tuesday Night Knitting I informed everyone of my new work status. "So now I get health insurance and vacation time," I finished.

And then I saw it. The three girls' noses turned away from me. Two pointed away from the circle and one stared hard at the lime green work-in-progress in her hands. No one said a word.

It took me a minute to register that the other three girls had previously held marketing jobs like me, but they were still laid off. Tuesday Night Knitting has operated more like a Knit while you Network since its inception at the beginning of the year. The girls share information on who is hiring and in what capacity as well as preferred yarn fiber and the best way to cast on.

To make matters worse, two of the girls had interviews the previous week and neither were selected for the open positions. Their own depression rendered them unable to be happy for me in any capacity. It had taken on some perverse form of reverse-Schadenfreude.

Even Christopher gave me a cursory "That's great" when I told him. At least he made an unconvincing effort.

It's really deflated my joy in my accomplishment. Last night I opened USA Today and read that unemployment in my state reached a double-digit all-time high, the national debt topped 1 trillion dollars for the first time ever, and the 800-billion dollar stimulus package has had no effect other than stemming the bleeding. Even recent college graduates in China were pushing each other down to clean toilets.

I thought back to my immediate circle friends and counted. Seven of them have been laid off and have yet to find work. Three of those have been out of jobs for over a year. I am already thankful for the opportunity I've taken advantage of, but it's made me ashamed of my good news. No one wants to hear it. They would rather keep company with others' doom and gloom.

So I'm not telling anyone else about my job/apartment. And that makes me feel inferior.

~Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Today I was offered a permanent position (and health insurance!) at the company I had been working under contract for. Which means this weekend I get to put a deposit down on a new apartment.

One reason I was so hesitant to leave Scott was knowing I would have to give up my apartment. The one I had been living in for years before I met him. (He would not have left if I asked him to, so really it was the only option to get away from him.) I loved that building. I always viewed that original move into the city into that apartment building as my independence, and to give it up was rather difficult for me. I felt like I had been hurt and abused to the point where I could no longer take care of myself and I required rescuing, although my mother always told me that was not the case.

I've decided not to go back to Midtown (the borough I originally moved to because Christopher lived there. It was the only one I knew and I was told it was trendy at the time.) It's time to close that chapter and move on. Besides, the neighborhood was scary after dark and I would be stuck in traffic for most of my commute. I've decided to move to Westside.

I don't know much about the west side other than it's closer to most of my hangouts and convenient to work. It's the same price as Midtown due to an up-and-coming buzz about it and has a lot of new growth. It still has about the same amount of violence, so a neighborhood comparison will be interesting. Westside's Kroger doesn't have a scary nickname to my knowledge like my Midtown one did. That's an immediate improvement.

So, I will again be establishing my independence. And this time my independence will be from my partner rather than from my parents. Scott's currently lurking in a treatment facility in Downtown, so I will also be further away from him. Christopher is across 16 lanes of interstate highway in Brookwood. It feels good that I don't know anyone in my neighborhood; it's just more evidence that I'm doing this move for me.

I have a hard time remembering that May, and subsequently my breakup and unemployment and moving home, was only 2-1/2 months ago. I've encountered a pretty quick turnaround time on all fronts. I'm proud of myself for trudging ahead with life despite so many obstacles and I believe that the reason I'm doing so well is because I never stopped moving forward.

In four short weeks I will be living on my own again, debating the necessity of cable TV and eating Chinese dumplings for dinner. I can't wait.

~Monday, July 13, 2009

Christopher the Kind

Another date with Christopher. Part of me doesn't need to recap the entire date word for word like I've done in the past. I think this is a good thing and I'm viewing it as a sign of stability. That I'm comfortable enough with him and confident in where I stand, I don't need to look for hidden signs about how he feels about me.

(Like how we went out together for the first time instead of hanging around his apartment.)

(Or how I told him about my friends and how much cooler they are than me and he flashed me a lingering smile that told me I was plenty cool on my own and I melted into a puddle in my heels.)

(Or when I didn't see him Saturday night but woke up Sunday morning with a good night text from him long after I went to bed and my heart fluttered.)

Another reason I don't have much to say is because I ended up passing out on him pretty early Friday night. I cuddled up to him to watch the latest installment of Saw and somehow drifted off to sleep while buckets of blood spilled on screen.

Next thing I know, the apartment is dark and Christopher was standing in front of me with his arm outstretched towards me. "Come,let's go to bed," he said.

The movie previously on TV was over and the TV was now off. The bed that was made had been turned down and there was a fresh glass of water waiting for me by my side of the bed. He wiggled his wrist at me while I tried to get my bearings.

"You did all that while I was sleeping?" I asked.

"Yeah. I looked down and saw your eyes closed, so I let you be," he said.

I grabbed his hand and he pulled me up and then off the couch. "You're so..." I paused while thinking of the right word. Nice was what I was going to say but its overuse loses any genuine meaning. "Kind," I finished.

Emotionally Unavailable Christopher has become Christopher the Kind.

~Thursday, July 09, 2009

4th of July

The 4th of July was a emotionally trying day for me. While my mother was dealing with her new-found independence, I had already agreed to spend the day at my father's house. I was ready to spill every detail about Scott and his suicide attempt, mental hospital stay and now rehab stay in an effort to not reveal the truth about my mother and step-father.

When I was ready to leave my father's house, the idea of going back to my mother's house made me feel ill. I know I should be there for my mom, but I just did not want to step foot in that house. I called Christopher who also did not have plans, but did have a view of the fireworks show from his 15th floor apartment.

I dropped my dog off at my mother's house and watched my step-father leave my mother alone on the holiday to go visit his friend at a bar. (A later drive-by done by my mother and her friend confirmed that he never made it to the bar.) My mother wanted me to stay and go on the drive-by with her, but I felt like I was allergic to the house. The anxiety that I hadn't felt in weeks had returned.

Christopher called to chat while I drove the 30 minutes intown to his place. Still trying to navigate the best way there, I asked him which way he went to work. He grew silent.

"I have to admit something to you," he said carefully. "That job I told you about, I was laid of from it too."

I quickly told him it was okay and to not be embarrassed. I knew other people who have been laid off twice already in this recession. I had already been very open about my own lay off and I was thankful for being so honest with him. I previously told him how embarrassed I was and how horrible I felt about myself. However, his unemployment, through no fault of his own, had triggered a Scott-like response in which my stomach sank. Like with Scott, I knew that we couldn't do a lot of things because the money wouldn't be there and I wondered if I would ever date a guy who had a driver's license, job and bank account at the same time.

I arrived at Christopher's and he met me outside. It was almost dark and there were sporadic bursts of fireworks. I got out of the car. Christopher watched me.

"You heard me when I said I didn't have a job, right?"

I shrugged. He smiled and came in to kiss me. "I just wanted you to know the truth," he said.

We watched the fireworks from his living room window. As the big finale lights the sky, Christopher's phone rings. I keep my eyes trained on the fireworks, but I listen to his conversation. I about fell over when Christopher told his brother he was with Sarah.

"Who's Sarah?" I hear from the phone.

"A girl," he responds. I smiled. I know what a girl means, it's very different than a friend. And he's talking to family.

Then Christopher thrusts his Razr towards me. "Here," he says. "Talk."

I'm confused, but I accept the phone from him. His brother sounds excited to talk to me. He asked me a lot of questions. Actually, he kind of grilled me.

"How old are you?" was the first thing he said to me after the introduction. His brother has a thick Midwestern accent as opposed to Christopher, whose accent only shows with certain words like "roof" or "coupon."

"28." Which makes me 7 years' Christopher's junior. His brother made a positive noise of approval.

"How did you meet Christopher?"

"I met him 3 years ago through his friend Matt," I paused and made eye-contact with Christopher and grinned. "He called me a whore."

Christopher doubled over in laughter until streams of tears rolled down his cheeks. I haven't brought it up since we reconnected and the comedic timing was perfect. The three of us laughed.

"What color is your hair?" he probed.

"Depends if you're asking about the roots or the color I pay good money to make it," I quipped.

We talked for about 10 minutes total, mostly about their father and the brother's family. I handed the phone back and Christopher soon hung up.

"You were really great with him," he said.

I beamed. I don't know if I ever felt charming before, but I believed I was with his brother. Of course with his brother it was easy because he was so friendly.

I ended up telling him about my family and he talked me through it. He said I should feel no guilt. All I did was use technology in ways my mother couldn't and if my mother didn't want to know, she would have stopped me. She wanted this. I showed her the truth and nothing more. He held my hand as he talked to me. Actually, he was pretty amazing about it.

Christopher turned on a movie and patted the spot next to him on the couch. I obliged and he pulled me to his side and grabbed my arm and wrapped it across his stomach. With his free hand he tickled my back. The evening was like a light switch and Christopher was on.

~Wednesday, July 08, 2009

How Google ended my mother's marriage

I arrived Friday at lunch time to my mother's house. I had just left Christopher's (aka my girlfriend's house for movies and margaritas according to the story I gave my mom when I left) and I was in a good mood. Christopher liked me. He liked me in the snuggle in his sleep, play with my hair and kiss me on the forehead kind of way.

I was standing in the kitchen with my mom, chatting about nonsense when my step-father got off the couch for no reason and picked up a table he was supposed to carry into the basement the day before. He was so nasty and unnecessarily mean about it that it snapped me out of whatever I was saying. My mother was silent, but my gut instinct took over before I could give it a second thought, I yelled something to the extent that he was being an unreasonable jerk. I don't remember exactly what I said, all I know is that he single handedly changed the whole mood of the house with his actions and he was taking it out on my mother.

My step-father slunk out the back door and got in his truck and left the house. I was angry. It wasn't my place to be angry and insert myself into their marriage, but I could only take so much while living under the same roof and experiencing the same tensions.

My mother was visibly upset that he just took off. "You said you two are under the same cell-phone plan?" I asked.

"Yes, but they don't place the calls on the bill anymore. Besides he pays it so I don't get to see it," she said hopelessly.

I told her all about the world of on-line accounts, something I knew neither of them had experienced yet. I sat down at my mother's computer and created a T-mobile on-line account under his name, but linked to her e-mail address.

The first thing that came up was that they were over their shared minutes. A scroll of the mouse showed that they haven't been over their minutes in the last six months. My mother used 100 minutes; my step-father used 950.

Another thing I learned is that he spent $50 last month in text messages alone. Text messages at 20¢ a piece to one phone number. The text messages started at 8 in the morning and went to 1, 3 and sometimes 5 in the morning. A quick scroll through the calls showed that this number was dialed frequently too. Like say, every time he walked my dog at night and that time he left our family dinner at a restaurant and was gone for 40 minutes.

I was busy clicking and saving copies of the bills to my mother's hard drive while she stood at the printer making copies. "But how do we find out who he is calling?" she asked.

"We have two options. One, go to a pay phone, dial it and see if a man or a woman answers. Two, spend $5 at any of the cell-phone pay directories on-line and they'll tell you everything there is to know about the person, including how much she makes a year," I informed her.

"I don't want it traced to my credit card."

"We'll use mine," I offered. My mother handed me a $5 bill and I stuffed it in my wallet as I pulled out my bank card. I found the most reliable looking site and entered my credit card information. My mom began ironing clothes with her nervous energy.

I hesitated on the final click to get the report. This was a big deal. It was proof of both her and my suspicions. I inhaled, held my breath and clicked.

"Her name is T----."

My mother gasped and clapped her hand to her mouth, the other hand still holding the steaming iron. "She works with him." My mother goes through the list of all the things he's said about her and even mentions she met her 10 years ago. "Those last company functions, he didn't invite me to them," she says as she's processing the information.

"Mom, will you please stop ironing his shirt. You just found out he's cheating and you're still ironing his clothes."

She ignored me. She's a nervous cleaner, just like me.

My mother finally gets angry enough and finds his credit card statement and steams it open with the iron. All those company conferences he's been attending all summer were lies. When he said he was in one city, his credit card statement said he was spending money in another. There were no hotel charges for the conferences either. And the time he didn't come home and left his wedding ring at the house? The charges said he was in the same city as her.

"This is what I needed," she said. "This is what I needed to get out of the marriage."

"Mom, why aren't you upset or crying?" I asked.

"The tears will come. They'll be later. Now it's time for action." She made copies of the records. "If I divorced him without proof, he'd get half of everything. He'd get half of our family money and I would get half of his debt. With this, I can keep what's mine. I paid for this house, not him."

Meanwhile I sat at the keyboard. A quick company directory search showed that this woman was not laid off her job like he said about a month ago. He was calling her to help her find a job, he said.

"Now I need a divorce lawyer," my mom said as she put his credit card statement back in the envelope.

"You have to put the address in the envelope window," I pointed out.

"Oops." She fixed the envelope. "I want my old coworker's lawyer because he was such a shark, but I stopped talking to her because the divorce got so ugly." She ran through all the different ways to find out which lawyer her old friend used, "Maybe I can have my other friend she doesn't know call and ask for her friend."

I thought for a minute. "Mom, what county did she get divorced in?"

"The one I live in, why?"

I furiously typed until the county superior court records were in front of me, "because divorce records are public." Another quick search and I was writing the name and number down of the lawyer my mother wanted.

My mother stared at me, her mouth hanging open. "How do you know all this? What you've done in 5 minutes with 5 dollars would have cost me thousands to hire a detective to do the same thing."

"Easy," I said. "I'm single."

She didn't understand me.

"Whenever I started dating someone new, my friend and I would go to the surrounding 3 counties' web sites and search for that guy's arrest records. And when you've been screwed over by a few bad boyfriends, you learn the benefits of on-line accounts and pay cell-phone directories."

I had managed to impress my mother.

My step-father still hadn't returned home. I began to think that it was my anger at him that blow the whole cheating thing wide open. If it wasn't for my anger, my mother would still be blissfully unaware. Well, she'd still be ignorant.

I began to feel guilty. I was the catalyst for my mother calling the divorce lawyer. If it wasn't for me, she would still be married. I ended my mother's marriage.

But she wanted to know the truth. She already did in a way. Folding his laundry last week, she found a new pair of underpants in a new style. "Men don't buy new underwear unless they're cheating," she had said.

And we both knew the lies. Driving a cousin to visit his sick grandmother and not returning for four days. A conference that started on Sunday, the Lord's Day here in the Bible Belt. His upcoming court testimony for the next five days in which he'll put eight cops in jail for fighting at a restaurant he was eating at years ago. Oh please.

But my mother's marriage is ending, and I feel responsible.

~Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Drinking Games

With the holiday weekend approaching, I stayed late at work on Thursday. I had nothing better to do and figured I could use this time to impress the boss enough to make me a permanent employee (with health insurance!).

In the car I turned my phone back on since the Scott debacle and found out I had two voice messages. The second one was from Christopher, who wanted to know if I wanted to come over and watch movies either tonight or tomorrow. I pumped my fist in the air. Karma had rewarded me! The universe acknowledges closure and my kickass work ethic and provides me with another date.

After dinner with friends, I arrived at Christopher's a little after 10 o'clock. I was even bold enough to pack an overnight bag and bring it inside his apartment. We flipped through channels while deciding which movie to put in, either Saw (his choice) or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (my choice, which turned out to be cute when I watched it the next night).

When Saw was over, I opened my bag and brought out Drinking Jenga, a homemade game in which I took the blocks of Jenga and wrote typical drinking-game rules on them. When you pull a block, you have that rule to complete. Christopher doesn't have cable, so I brought some things to do besides watching the public-access Christian comedy channel. He was suspect of the game at first, but quickly liked it.

After a few games (and subsequently a few beers), we decided to take a midnight walk in the city. His borough is safer than my old one, and it's become a thing we've done over the past couple of visits. His apartment is so small (we both can't stand in the New York-style kitchen at the same time; we have to take turns) that it feels good to get out for a change of scenery.

Around 4 a.m. I grew so tired I couldn't keep my head up. Christopher shuts off the t.v. and announces it's time for bed. With the last bit of energy I had left from the week, I sprint towards the bedroom and belly-flop on the bed. Christopher laughed as he tugged the sheets out from under me. He turns out the lights and makes his move, but I stopped him.

"What are your intentions?"


The drinking-game beers must have made me brave. "What are you intentions?" I repeated. It was dark in the bedroom and I couldn't see his face, but the fact his arm still rested on my stomach was a good sign.

"With what?" he said, clearly stalling.

"With me. What are your intentions with me?" I rolled over and put my head on his shoulder. His arm still laid across me.

"What do you want me to say?" he asked back. The tone of his voice told me he was asking my opinion, and not acting out in frustration.

"I don't want you to say anything. I just want to know the truth." I sighed, "I'm really not interested in playing games."

"Me neither," he agreed. He paused, "What do you want?"

"No!" I laughed. "I asked you first!"

"Well now I'm asking you."

I thought back to the games part of what I said, and how I'm really only interested in playing games like Drinking Jenga. They're more fun and have an ending to them; you can stop playing any time you want. "I like you, Christopher," I said simply and plainly. "And I want to take things slowly and see if there is a future for us." I thought back to a conversation I had once with Jack in which I sprung the DTR, and I thought about how different that conversation was to this one.

"I like you too," Christopher said back to me. "I wouldn't call you and play Drinking Jenga with you and lay in bed naked with you if I felt otherwise," he explained. "I think relationships don't stand a chance if you don't have an underlying friendship basis for them and that's what I'm doing here."

"I just don't want to be your dirty little secret like I was last time." I know M-Joy gave me some sound advice on letting that stuff go, but I had to make my feelings known about it first.

"You weren't."

"You didn't tell your friends about me."

"You're so stone-y," I fumbled. "I've had a few beers so I can't think of the word, but stone-y like stone, not like high."


"Yes! You're so stoic. You don't reveal anything about yourself and I need to feel validated in this."

"Well I did tell them about you."

"I told my friends about you tonight," I admitted.

"You did? What did you say?"

"I said you look like Ray Liotta without the pockmarks."

"You think I look like Ray Liotta?"

"Yeah, you both have green eyes."

"What did they say about me?"

"Nothing. Harvey was laughing too hard about the pockmark comment I made. She thought it was funny. My friends--"

I was about to say something about her inviting Christopher over for the next beer-pong tournament, but he had begun to kiss me and did not stop.

~Monday, July 06, 2009


Scott called me while I was at work on Thursday. Actually a strange number called me and when I picked it up, it was Scott. It was another, "I just wanted to say hey" thing. Pretend like nothing happened.

I told him it was inappropriate for him to call me while I was at work. I was trying to start a new job with new coworkers that didn't need to know my past. He said he had been trying to reach me this week, but had been unsuccessful (which explains the 4 missed calls the night before from phone numbers that closely resemble the rehab center's main number).

He just started in with the lies again. His step-mother had called me the previous weekend to tell me that Scott had been diagnosed with pneumonia and that his mother drove to rehab to drop off money for him for his prescriptions. I've had pneumonia, I told his step-mother. Actually I had walking pneumonia. And I felt so horrible that it was a struggle to lay in bed. Every time I coughed I cried because it hurt so much. There was no way I could have enough energy to walk myself to the hospital in 100° heat like he claims he did.

"Yeah, I have pneumonia," Scott tells me. "The doctors say I got it from sitting in the waiting room and not washing my hands."

"Um, you can't catch pneumonia from not washing your hands. It's a fluid build-up in the lungs. It doesn't work like that," I informed him.

"Well the doctors say it's the flu slash pneumonia."

"The flu slash pneumonia?"


"There's no such thing."

"Well the doctors wrote it down in my chart like that!" his voice got higher in earnest.

"They wrote down the flu slash pneumonia?"


"No they didn't."

Then I realized I fell for it and I was back in the old pattern. Through lying, Scott was at least getting me to interact with him, even if it was just arguing. I stopped and told Scott I didn't think we should talk unless the conversation is being supervised in a therapy setting.

"Why?" he demanded.

"Because you are in rehab!" I exclaimed.

"Why does that mean I have to be supervised?"


"So you won't talk to me unless I'm being supervised because I'm so fucked up." He said quieter, obviously hurt.

"Scott," I breathed. "You are in an in-patient facility and plan to be there for at least a year. You don't do that unless you have problems. I don't know how to sugarcoat the fact you are in rehab."

Again I told him I needed to get off the phone. I am at work and I already know people heard me. Afterwards, I called his counselor at rehab and explained to him the situation and asked if Scott should be calling out with such regularity and isn't there a point in treatment when approaching friends and family is done properly.

The counselor asked when Scott last called me and I said 20 minutes ago. He then informed me that Scott wasn't even at rehab, but at the hospital for a tooth that may or may not be broken. That explained the strange number. He insinuated that Scott is avoiding treatment by making up excuses to leave and go to the hospital. I told him Scott's teeth have always been broken and asked about the the flu slash pneumonia. "He went to the hospital last week for congestion, that's all," he told me.

Scott avoiding treatment by spending the tax payers' dollars at the hospital for fake illnesses just brought me to a whole new level of anger with him.

The counselor asked if I wanted Scott calling me. "You know what? No," I said. "Not unless it is in a therapy setting."

"If it even gets to that point," he responded.

I was miserable when I got off the phone. I was fine at work until he called and now I felt like I was a big ball of energy. And then I remembered that my new coworkers heard my original phone call and teared up. I didn't want them to know anything bad about me so they would like me, and now they know I have a crazy ex-boyfriend in rehab. Tears rolled down my cheek.

One lady saw me cry and ran to my desk. "Please don't feel bad," she comforted. "I've had to go in the boss's office many times to talk to lawyers about my divorce. You feel awful about living at home with your parents? Well I'm 45 and living with my parents with my child because I have a crazy ex-husband."

Another girl approximately my age rolled her chair over to face me. "You live with your parents? Me too except I have a 2-year-old and I have to pay palimony to my ex-husband because he was a loser with no job when I left him. We all have crazy exes, please don't let it bother you."

"Besides, no one is in the office today because of the holiday. We were the only two people to hear you anyway," said the first lady.

It was enough for me to stop crying. I reached in my desk and pulled out my emergency make-up bag and went to the ladies room and put on a full face of make-up. With a fresh face I felt a lot better.

~Thursday, July 02, 2009

Fail Safe

I am not having a good time living at home. All my mother and step-father do is snap at each other. They both takes turns at it and are both guilty of treating each other that way. They just jump down each other's throats and neither try to understand the other's viewpoint. It's just so hostile and tense all the time. Someone is always wronged and angry.

Sunday night at dinner, Mom sits down to eat and my step-father yells at her that she took the wrong hamburger. The one on her plate is the one he made for my dog. Mom snaps back she didn't want a burnt burger and then begins to cry that the dog gets better treatment than her. What my step-father fails to tell her is that the burger he made for the dog had no spices and hers did. He should have explained the difference and then let her have whatever burger she wants. But he's mad and now she's mad. He snaps about something regarding the lettuce and tomato burger toppings. My instinct is to run. I want to grab my plate and take it upstairs to my bedroom. I don't want to be around this. But I know if I do leave, I'll make things worse.

The tension is so thick that I'm pounding my head into my fists. I'm beating myself. I can't sit here and not do something to make the situation better. I explain the difference of the burgers to my mom, but it's too late. No one cares. No one is listening. Mom cut her (new) burger into pieces and isn't even eating it. My step-father sees my mother cry and he leaves the table and goes outside. Mom begins to yell and my dog runs out of the kitchen, too skitish to beg for dinner. She hates him, she says. He's a bastard. She can't stand this house.

I try to explain that this house is supposed to be my safe haven and my refuge. This fighting isn't good for me. I told her I wanted to move out just to not be around this. My mother cries harder and says she doesn't want me to leave because she doesn't want to be alone with my step-father. Now I feel like I have 3 jobs: the one I get paid at, the one where I try to be non-partisan and cut the tension just to make the house liveable, and the one where I keep my mother company so she won't be lonely and have to face her marriage.

The house feels cold and impersonal and I'm uncomfortable here. I don't want to be here either. I wish Christopher would call and invite me over, but I know at this moment I'll just be running away from something instead of running towards him. I'm doing pretty well and I feel guilty for telling my mom this is supposed to be my rehab. Since I'm doing so well I should just suck it up and be there for her and save my money. But I think there is some fragility to my state. I don't want to push things and suffer an emotional set back. I don't feel entirely safe here. I don't think of this house as a place where I can mentally and emotionally flourish. I don't feel emotionally safe. I don't want to suffer and be uncomfortable and be stuck in the crossfire of angry words and tension.

I wonder if I could feel safe in my own apartment. I know I get lonely when I'm separated from people for so long and I know crying jags are a distinct possibility if I live on my own. At least I don't cry when I live at home. I'm too scared to. I just want to have a safe place in my life.

~Wednesday, July 01, 2009


A guy friend asked me if I would like to see a movie this week. I checked the Facebook message Swayze sent me and saw that he only asked me to see the movie, not our normal circle of friends. We have spent a lot of time together this summer doing things on our own, but this is usually because no one else showed up, not because we planned it that way. And here he is, planning it that way.

It was a movie on an inconvenient day for me at an inconvient time. It was a movie I didn't even want to see. But he had asked only me, so I made it happen.

I ducked out of my board meeting 15 minutes early and began weaving through traffic to the theatre. On my way, he sent a text message asking me if I wanted him to smuggle in a beer for me. I gave the thumbs up and raced to make the movie.

I climbed the steps in the darkened theatre following his direction. When I reached his prefered row, I walked in to the middle as far as I could and I put a one-seat buffer between me and the next couple.

And Swayze put a one-seat buffer between us.

I stared at him incredulously as he emptied his cargo shorts pockets with loads of snacks and 3 cans of beer. He cracked open the first can and left the other two between his feet. My jaw dropped. I debated calling him out on it, something like thanking him for keeping his cooties to himself, but the roar of the previews and the sheer shock of it all left me silent.

I slumped in my seat. Who was I going to rate the previews with? I always rate the previews. With the buffer, it would be too much of a hassle to lean over and shout, "That one is going to suck!"

"OMG," my coworker said when I recounted the story to her.

"No, not OMG," I corrected. "WTF."

I was stuck in the theatre for the next 2 hours and 45 minutes while I watched Transformers, which thoroughly sucked as promised, with the sweet smell of Foster's beer plaguing my nostrils. Social awkwardness aside, the beer antic was just rude.

Leaning away from my one-seat buffer like it was contaminated with tuburculosis, I rested my cheek in my hand. It was Tuesday Night Knitting Club and I skipped it and the rest of my board meeting at work for this. This... bullshit. I understand that when guys go to the movies with each other, they use the buffer, but I am not a dude. He asked me to go with him. He wanted my company. He didn't ask anyone else. And he's the type of guy who has no problems going to movies or to see bands alone, so I know I wasn't playing a loneliness buffer, so what the hell is that seat doing between us? Meanwhile he's oblivious, snacking on his bags of snacks and drinking his beer. (And he was so dumb about it, he'd open each can during a quiet dialogue part, not when the theatre is shaking with deafening explosions.)

I sat there and wished I had a boyfriend for no other reason than to avoid wading through the crap that is man. I wondered why I was out at all. When they're not taking a dump in your car, they're doing other shitty things like asking you to see a movie and then not sitting with you like there is something wrong with you.

If we hadn't known each other for years, I probably wouldn't have been so polite about it. Swayze's done a lot of nice things for me over that time, like taking me to see Cirque du Soliel earlier this year (Where we sat next to each other), taking our group of friends to his parents' home on the water (where we sat next to each other), meeting me for countless happy hours, sushi lunches and concerts (where we sat next to each other). So maybe he has a movie problem. Or recently developed a Sarah problem in the last 10 minutes.


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