Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Relationships

I Hate Change

I hate change.

I don’t think I can overstate how resistant I am to change, and, yes, I know it’s not a good trait.

I’m a creature of habit, and living alone, I can usually do what I want when I want where I want. All of this has been thrown out the window by having my parents here. I get up a few hours after they do, and by the time I’m up, they have a list of things a mile long they want to talk to me about. As I’ve said before, I’m barely coherent before my first swig of Coke Zero, and my brain refuses to comprehend what is being jabbered at it in the wee hours of the morning*.

Yesterday, Saturday, I was so discombobulated, I checked my social media without even thinking about it. One of the reasons I set myself a rigorous schedule is because it helps me cope with the vagaries of life. I only looked at my mentions and my notifications, and once I realized what I was doing, I stopped. I didn’t check the rest of the day, but I felt bad about it, anyway. I’ve been doing it long enough that it should be a habit by now, but because everything else is topsy-turvy, I slipped back to my old habits.

It’s hard to watch your parents decline mentally and physically. It’s even harder when I only see them once a year at the most so the changes are stark. My mom is holding up pretty well because she takes really good care of herself, but my father is going downhill fast. He’s been having a lot of physical problems, and worse, he doesn’t do what he should to rectify them. It’s difficult to be completely sympathetic because he’s been a hypochondriac all his life. He sees doctors constantly, and there’s always something wrong with him. When we went to the doctor this time, he had a litany of complaints. The doctor was great, but he also said, “You are in good physical shape for your age.” In other words, the litany of complaints are quality of life questions rather than actual crises.

It’s not to say there aren’t actual problems and that he’s not in actual pain. I’m sure he is. However, it’s hard to know how much of it is real and how much is exaggeration.

Anyway, my parents have a rhythm they’ve perfected over the years, and as dysfunctional as it is, it works for them. To an outsider, it looks bizarre–and it is–but if they’re both happy in it, there’s not much anyone can do about it. My mom isn’t as happy as she pretends to be, but that’s not the point of this post.

My childhood was chaos littered with unreliable narrators. I never knew what was real and what wasn’t, and as a result, I have an excruciating need for the truth. Not only do I need the truth, I need to verify it five or six times before I’ll ultimately accept it. It’s also why I need my routines. It’s part of my OCD traits, and it’s comforting to me to know I’m going to do the same things in the same order until the end of time.


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A Tale of Two Best Friends

I met my bestie when we were both working at Katahdin (now extinct), me as a counselor in a day treatment program for juvenile delinquents*, and her as the administrative assistant. We were the only oddballs in the place, and we started talking during the annual Christmas lunch or some such. She had a tattoo (this was before I had mine), and she had been an English major in college. We really clicked, and we started hanging out outside of work. She did all the work in the beginning because I was deeply depressed and had a multitude of low-esteem issues. I couldn’t fathom she’d want me to bother her, and it took her asking me a year after we became friends if I wanted her to keep calling me to realize that she actually wanted to be friends. This was before Facebook, Twitter, and email were a daily thing with me, so I couldn’t even like one of her posts to let her know I was thinking of her.

We’ve seen each other through some difficult times, and we’ve seen how the other has grown in the past twenty-two years. I’ve called her the yang to my yin, the positive to my negative. She has a kid and gray hair now, and I have a cat and white streaks in my hair. When she lived here, we went out every few months, but it was comforting to know I *could* see her if I needed to in fifteen minutes or less.

One of our favorite things was to go out drinking** and dancing, and I vividly remember a time when we were both pretty sloshed and hungry after hours of dancing. We went to White Castle to get some sliders because that’s what you do when you’re drunk and need something to eat at two in the morning when everything else is closed. We took our sliders to the lake*** and walked on the shore as we ate. Suddenly, we both had to pee, and of course, there were no restrooms around. There was no on around, and it was dark, so we both found a semi-private spot and did our business. I accidentally peed on my foot, which struck me as hilarious.

I bring it up because I never would have done that without Kat, my partner in crime. She’s way more spontaneous than I am, and she can push me out of my comfort zone with little effort. She doesn’t live in state any longer, and we have to make a more conscious effort to keep in touch offline. We talk once every few months, and it’s as if we’ve never stopped talking. She is one of those people with whom it doesn’t matter how much time has passed–talking is as easy if not easier than when we first became friends.


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Looking for the Cracks in the Perfection

all glass can be broken.
The colors of love.

Today, I read a piece in the NYT by a dying woman, Amy Krouse, Rosenthal, called You May Want to Marry My Husband, and it’s a personal/love letter for/to her husband. It’s a lovely piece, and I think most people will be stirred by it. Those of you who know me well can probably tell that I’m speaking in a very measured tone, which should alert you to the fact that I’m about to add a ‘but’ to that statement. Really, it should be expected because it’s not much of a post if I’m just going to gush how great this piece is. So, those of you who don’t want a somewhat grumpy post about love and relationships, you probably want to turn away now. Consider yourself forewarned.

But.

As I was reading, I found myself wondering about his flaws. He didn’t seem like a real person to me from the post, and no, I did not want to marry her husband. One, because I’m not the marrying type, but two, because I never believe the advertisement for a product. That sounds incredibly harsh, and I don’t really mean it that way. It’s just that when you read personals, you know that the person is putting their best foot forward. When I tried the personals, I would emphasize my love of literature, my tats, my nontraditional outlook on life. And sex. How much I love sex. Which is a lot. I was witty and funny and my words sparkled.

What I didn’t mention was that I was severely depressed and barely moved from the couch for days on end. I’m alternately clingy and cold, and I can hold a grudge like nobody’s business. While I endeavor to be understanding and empathetic, I can be judgmental as hell on the inside. I don’t like people in general, and I can only take people in very little doses. In addition, I’m a slob with a tendency towards inertia, and sometimes, I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, from my house. I’m generous, but I keep tabs in my head of the favors I do. I bottle up my emotions until I explode, and then I scorch the earth with my fury. I’m passive-aggressive, and I’m conflict-avoidant to an unhealthy degree, though I’m getting better at being more direct. I’m moody, and overly-sensitive in taking offense, and I sulk way more than is seemly for a woman my age. All of these things are important for someone interested in dating me to know.

Back to the piece. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What would he do if I refused to talk to him for hours?” “What happens when I want sex for the third day in a row, and he’s just too tired*?” “How will he react if I push him to do a chore he doesn’t want to do?” In other words, tell me about his flaws. Tell me what I’ll see when I peel back the layers and get past the superficial. Tell me what he’s like when he’s sick or cranky or just not feeling tiptop. Does he leave two squares on the toilet roll and not replace it? Is he short with the kids when he’s feeling tense?

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Unconventional Love

stop. crying. baby.
My darkest nightmare.

I never played with baby dolls when I was a little girl. They never appealed to me, nor did actual babies. They were screaming, squalling, dribbling balls of snot, and I didn’t like them at all. I also never pretend-played having a wedding with my Barbies. I know many little girls dream of their perfect wedding, but I didn’t care about it at all. The only thing I did with my Barbies was cut their hair after coloring it black, and I made them have sex with each other. All that girly shit didn’t matter to me, and it wasn’t until a decade and a half later that I realized I was supposed to care deeply about these issues. When I was twenty, I realized that I didn’t want children. At all. It was a weird revelation because I just assumed I had to have them, given the societal pressure as well as the maternal pressure. When it ht me that I didn’t have to have them, a feeling of relief overwhelmed me. I didn’t have to have kids! It was as if a life sentence I didn’t know I was under had been lifted. I didn’t think it was a big deal until I started telling other people, and I was met with a range of reactions from disbelief to condescension to anger. That’s when I realized that what I did with my body was deemed to be communal property, and I heartily rebelled against that. I also bristled at the idea that I didn’t know my own mind, that my biological clock would one day overwhelm me, and that all I would be able to think about was squeezing out babies Duggar-style. It made me indignant that other people thought they knew me better than I knew myself, and even if it was true that I would change my mind at some point, why couldn’t they accept that at the time, I didn’t want to have kids?

As it was, I never changed my mind. I’m forty-five years old, and the only time I had even an inkling to have a kid was when my mother wouldn’t stop pushing me to procreate. It got so bad, I thought of having a kid just to shut her up. Fortunately, I realized that was a phenomenally stupid reason to have children, and I never thought about it again. It’s hard not to say this without sounding defensive, but the only time I think about not having kids is when someone else brings it up. I love not having kids with a glee that is unbecoming. It’s not because I hate kids; I don’t. I just never wanted them. Plus, I knew I’d be a bad mother, though I’m a pretty great ‘crazy aunt’. Once I hit forty, the question of my fertility became a moot point, much to my relief. I did have an impulse to send out cards to people who were sure I’d have kids gloating over my child-free state. It passed, thankfully, and I went on my merry way.

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