One of the very best things about being an online diarist…or, in a less fancy-sounding word, “blogger”….for over a decade of my life is that when I get in one of those introspective moods, there’s a record of my life, often in a form I don’t remember writing. Of course, rarely does the record reflect the whole story, and when I’m 90, I’m bound to be quite confused about what actually happened, to whom, when, and why. But, on occasion, the record makes me smile.

I found this old, old, old entry on one of my previous journals. It was before Jaded Elegance was even a concept, and I somehow had more friends interested in my life than I do now. (there was no Facebook back then, and yes, my life was tremendously more interesting. This entry, I can only assume, has something to do with being cheated on by a lover who garnered my trust, my promises of monogamy, and yet simply “just wasn’t that into me”.

The funny thing about the recollection of events and truth is this: it’s so often subjective. In it, I make statements that were true *at the time*, regarding the type of relationship I was looking for, the type of person I found myself attracted to, even the way I saw myself. However, the flaw in this story is that a year prior to this entry, those things weren’t the case…and a year later, they certainly were not.

It’s funny how the truth of one’s perceptions and feelings about the world is an ever-changing process. The more you learn about who you are, the less you understand about pretty much everything.

Suffice it to say, I don’t feel the same way now as I did in the 7 or so years since this was written. The extra 5 pounds has become 15, and experience has taught me I’m not cut out for a life of militant lesbianism, since I’m not particularly well-suited to either. I no longer remember to put the napkin in my lap or use the right fork, and in the morning, I’m more of a 4 than a 7. I hadn’t yet discovered other views on relationships outside of monogamy and happily-ever-after. And I can’t tell you the last time I baked cookies for anyone. However,it amuses me to hear the voice of a person I once remember being, and maybe it will amuse you, too.


When it comes down to it, I really can’t understand my problems with men.

I’m a pretty nice girl. I’m down-to-earth, and am attracted to people for the “right” reasons, instead of their looks or their annual income. I’m always attracted to nice,sweet,boy-next-door types who still believe in that whole one guy,one girl,love,romance,happily ever after stuff. It does not seem right or just that I am perpetually hurt by my relationships, or that it should be so damn hard to find a guy who can love me, stick around, be faithful, and not “forget” to treat me with respect and consideration.

I really do look at myself honestly. I know I’m not perfect, or anywhere near it.

But I am an extremely kind and loving person. I have alot to give, and once I trust someone, there is nothing I wouldn’t offer to those who are important to me. I am capable of almost nearly unconditional love and support, and forgive almost anything, as long as someone makes amends for their mistakes and doesn’t repeat them. I go out of my way to drop an e-mail or telephone call to those closest to me nearly every day. I send greeting cards for no reason. I bake cookies for my friends. I answer the phone at 6 AM when someone is upset and needs a shoulder. If you end up in jail, you can call me for bail, and I’m not going to hang up on you. I don’t step on bugs. Or people. I give change to homeless people. I don’t always talk to strangers, but everyone at least gets a smile. I’m not a social climber, a gold digger, a moocher, or superficial. I firmly believe in karma and treating others as you wish to be treated. Sometimes, I’m wrong. But I always apologise. I’m not judgemental or prejudiced against anyone, unless I’m given a reason. I’m not by any means beautiful, but it’s been agreed by most that I’m at least an 7. :P I’m stylish. I can throw a dinner party for 6 with nothing but pine cones, tissue paper, glitter, and a bucket of fried chicken. I’ve read at least 20 books in the last month, and none of them were Harlequin romances. I can talk about art,music,politics,philosophy,religion,and a list of other subjects, and still remain quasi-intelligent and interesting. I have opinions, and thoughts that aren’t just echoes of what other people express to me. Most people don’t intimidate me. Very little makes me uncomfortable. I have good manners, and know what fork goes with which course of the meal, and always put the napkin in my lap. I’ve never in my life been disrespectful to anyone’s family when they’ve brought me home. I watch movies and television, and listen to popular music,and am by no means a culture snob. But I can give you the plot synopsis of every musical written after 1910, and understand opera,and ballet,and a variety of other things that may put non-understanding folks to sleep. I’m not cheap, or easy. I’m not frigid, or boring. I’m actually alot of fun to be around most of the time. I’m energetic and creative and free-spirited, in more ways than one. :P I’m not suffering from any issue that involves a 12-step program. I’m not a kleptomaniac. I don’t set things on fire. I’ve travelled to at least 20 countries. I speak 4 languages. I play 3 musical instruments. I have a college degree. From a school even pretentious Ivy League folks agree is pretty decent. :P I don’t forget anyone’s birthday. Children and animals love me. I’ve flown hundreds of miles across the country to meet people I’ve only met on the internet, and they’ve instantly become among my closest friends. I’m spontaneous, and take chances. I value stability and the little things in life. I’ve been told I have alot of interesting stories. People who know me come to me for advice on a regular basis. I think I’d do really well if I set myself up as a psychologist. I’m fairly photogenic. I’m not outdoorsy, but I’m always up for new adventures. If you’re interested in something I’m not familiar with, I’m likely to learn all about it, just because it’s your passion. I have a list of at least 100 things I want to do before I die. If the last 20-odd years are any indication, I’ll cross off at least 97 of them in the next decade.

All in all, I’m a nice girl.

So, when did I trade lives with Bridget Jones?

I admit, I have some shortcomings. I’m emotional. I am the stereotype of the sometimes “irrational” woman, because I think with my heart. I can’t keep my opinions to myself. I’m way too fond of shopping. I’m not practical. I’m a little arrogant, but just because it’s a convenient way to hide my overwhelming insecurity. I think I can do anything I set my mind to…but I suck at bowling. I can be slightly pretentious, according to some folks. I refuse to “blend in” or be less of who I am in order to make sure that everyone likes me and nobody finds anything about me objectionable. I’ve been through some tough life experiences that have left a few emotional scars…but nothing that alot of love,and affection,and support,and understanding won’t cure. I’m not close with my family, because they are dysfunctional and emotionally harmful to me. I have a hard time thinking about “long-term goals”…mostly because I’m somewhat convinced I’m going to get hit by a Mack Truck when I’m 30, so it’s all irrelevant. I have a fear of being betrayed and abandoned, and take a good while to really open up and trust anyone. Mostly because of the great number of people in my life who have screwed me over and made me wonder “What’s wrong with me?” So that’s baggage some people aren’t prepared to live with. I do get that. I can only be involved with those who are genuinely sensitive, supportive, and patient. But I know there are plenty of those folks out there. Believe it or not, I completely trust that most people are beautiful at heart.

None of these are desperately fatal character flaws. I don’t think. Honestly.

Is it because I can’t lose those annoying 5 pounds? Is it because I want someone thoughtful enough to call and e-mail every day to tell me they’re thinking of me? Is it because I don’t like sports? Is it because I feel I have a right to be loved and appreciated, and deserve better than knowing when the object of my affection is out with me (a gorgeous,interesting,intelligent woman that is regularly noticed by available men…and women…*laughs*), he is staring at every other woman in the room, wishing he were alone, and wondering if he can do better?

I mean, shouldn’t I be rewarded for not being one of those shallow, marriage-chasing “Sex In The City” girls? Would I have better success in matters of the heart if I only date yuppie guys with BMW’s…because if I’m going to end up being completely screwed over, at least THEY’re going to be the one paying for dinner? I don’t understand.

What did I do that the type of men who I fall in love with, the type who are interested in me in return, are of the variety who are sweet and thoughtful and tell me how much they care about me, how much they appreciate me, how much they are touched by me being a part of their life, how wonderful they find me, how they even suspect that they love me and look forward to seeing me all the time…but then,after all that, manage to add “But,of course, it doesn’t matter, because I don’t want a relationship with you.” Why do I find people who say “You’re everything I’m looking for”, and want to invest their time and energy in me, and tell me how close they feel to me, and even if the relationship becomes a physically involved one, it’s OK, because their feelings for me are something quite beyond friendship…but refuse to “date” me, or take me seriously, and at random intervals, run away and say “We’re just friends, you know, why are you so demanding? It’s not like we’re IN a relationship.” Why do I find guys who appear to be nice,stable,down-to-earth folks who claim they’re looking for love and a monogamous, committed relationship…but when it comes down to it, they’re willing to offer me anything but…while enjoying all the perks I’d offer to someone who actually cared enough to pursue a meaningful relationship with me. And then, to top it all off, why does the person spend a few weeks of their life telling me how special I am, how much they feel for me, indicate in every possible way that their feelings for me are what they’d feel for a “girlfriend”…and then casually point out, “I’m thinking about moving away.”, and when I get very upset, they remind me that they never claimed to actually want any kind of meaningful relationship with me…and kind of imply that even though they have feelings for me, it’s never going to mean anything…I’m just fun to be around while I’m here, on a temporary basis.

What the hell do I do to deserve to be treated with such disrespect, especially by those who claim to love and care for me, and who occasionally demonstrate through their actions that they are sincere, and not just saying the correct words?

And maybe if it were just this one person in my life who has spent a very long time taking me for granted and treating me like a “friend with benefits”, I could say that he has issues, that he doesn’t deserve me, that I have too much to offer to love someone who refuses to give as much in return, and it’s my own fault for continually putting up with it, and not saying “Value me the way I deserve to be valued, or just live without can’t have your cake and eat it too, just because you happen to be afraid or committmentphobic, or whatever.”

But,of course, it’s not an isolated incident. I fall in love with people who put so much time and energy into me, and I have so much in common with, that I start to believe they’re a soulmate…until the woman they live with answers the phone. Lately, even in my non-relationship-seeking state, my life seems to be filled with a variety of “nice guys” who are attractive and interesting, and respond to me in every which way from “You’re attractive,but not my type”, and “I just don’t see you that way” (which is a pretty new one for me, and I can accept that,especially when I don’t think I’d see that person “in that way”, either…but they have to underscore that point by being blunt enough to mention “Sometimes I just talk to you because I feel like I have to.” Oh,my gosh. Can people who call themselves friends BE a little more insulting?), to “It would be odd for me to get involved considering your current situation”, and “I can’t date you, because I think my best friend is in love with you.”. And, of course, there’s my personal favourite: “I think you’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met, and in 10 years, we’ll probably be married and have 3 kids…but right now, I so totally can’t handle monogamy”.

What the hell? What am I doing wrong?

I see all these people out in the world who are thoroughly difficult. They don’t treat their significant other the right way. They’re self-centred, and superficial, or just plain lacking in depth. And yet, they have someone who loves them and goes to the ends of the earth to prove it.

Are people going to only chase after me as long as I’m unavailable, uninterested, or a psycho bitch?

Because, seriously, I can totally work on that.

So, to the men of the world, I am giving up on you. I’m tired of being used, or taken for granted. I’m tired of being seen as a good time in the sack you should call once a month. I’m tired of you wanting me to be your “friend with benefits”, but telling me I’m not good enough to be a “girlfriend”. I’m tired of the committment-phobia and the mind games. I’m tired of chasing after you.

You see, I’m pretty wonderful. You all should be chasing after ME.

It’s not my fault you’re idiots, and that the “nice guy” thing is a complete myth.

So, let’s call a truce, OK? You all stop trying to break my heart, to use me for sex, or to get me to fall in love with you and then refusing to take me seriously….and I’ll become a militant lesbian, and stop calling.

Do we have a deal?

I’m glad that over the numerous years, there were a few people not willing to take me up on that deal. It seems to have worked out far better.

“Drink and dance and laugh and lie; love the reeling midnight through. For tomorrow we shall die–(but,alas,we never do.)” ~ Dorothy Parker

I’m not exactly living the charmed life right now. In fact, I’m struggling with so many things, I’m not sure how to cope anymore.

The latest blow came in the form of work problems, where a company I’ve happily worked for since May of last year officially put me on probation for a month. Why? Because I have consistently been mentally and physically unable to keep up with my normal workload (which is around 3000 words a day) since developing this illness at the end of June. There are various reasons for this; while I can put out an e-mail or a blog entry of that length in an hour, the part of my brain responsible for creativity seems frozen. When I have to craft informative, witty, readable text a company would be proud to use, I put more thought and energy into it. I set a higher standard for myself. And the result is often me staring blankly at the screen for ages, not knowing what to put down, or how to be creative. At one time, I was able to write 3 articles within an hour. Now, I seem to move at the pace of a turtle and it can take me an hour to come up with something I’m happy to turn in…and I physically don’t have the stamina to work 9 hours a day.

I wish I did. But, after all this time, protracted periods of staring at the computer screen provoke dizziness, migraines, and occasionally panic attacks. I sometimes feel physically unable to do it, in the same way I sometimes feel physically unable to leave my house. On top of that, I’ve had doctors’ appointments and tests or someone messing with my medications—rendering me useless—nearly every week. These activities not only mentally and physically wear me out, but take hours out of my day, especially because friends have become increasingly unavailable to drive me places, and calling a taxi service is not only expensive, but, as in the case of last Monday, caused me an additional 2.5 hours of wait time (and then another hour waiting to see the doctor, and an hour of actually seeing a doctor.) That, combined with my need to sleep 12 hours a day (a side effect of my drugs I fight to overcome, but don’t always win.), means I need to expend more energy in a shorter amount of time to keep up, and I can’t. Mentally, physically, emotionally….I can’t keep up.

This company has repeatedly told me I’m one of their best writers. That being said, they’d rather emphasize reliability over quality. Lately, I’ve been failing on both accounts. What I turn in isn’t that great, and it isn’t always on time. They’re right. I’m just not keeping up, and I feel crushed by that. The result is that I’m making less money than I have in years, and my medical bills just pile up day after day. I feel more than overwhelmed.

I also avoid talking with certain other people in my life about these struggles, because the vibe I get back is not one of understanding. It’s one of “it’s all in your head”, “fix it”, “I’m tired of coming to your rescue”, and other forms of being perceived as the lazy teenager that just doesn’t want to work. In reality, it isn’t like that. Not at all. So I keep my struggles and my disappointments largely to myself.

Yesterday, I wrote a blog entry regarding some recent experiences, an outing with a friend of mine, and what was meant to be an examination of my own personal life experiences and feelings toward some issues. This friend was offended by my characterisation of him, and whether I did in fact insult that friend or not (and of course I did), the point was that I never intended to. I simply meant to talk about my feelings. An e-mail response I received calling out my words was hurtful and upsetting to me; nobody likes to be told that someone you hold in high esteem doesn’t necessarily reciprocate that viewpoint based on something you’ve said or done. Also, nobody likes the feeling of knowing a friend just doesn’t understand where you’re coming from, and that is completely your fault, because you are still too closed and too guarded to adequately explain it to them.

In some ways, it is preferable to be seen in one less-than-favourable light, than to risk vulnerability, and open yourself up. After a lifetime of becoming adept at knowing what to hide, and the limits of opening up in friendships, my life experience has taught me it typically IS preferable. I’ve since removed the blog entry from this page and apologised for the offense, but the entire experience caused me to feel hurt and isolated. I caused someone I like a good deal to feel insulted and bluntly point out negative aspects of my behaviour, thought processes, feelings, or even my character–some of which are likely true—and for someone of my personality makeup, that’s hard to hear.

On top of it all, there have been more frequent arguments with The Guy I Am Currently Dating, and I feel isolated and forgotten by those I’ve typically been closest to in my life. I feel as if people are simply out of time, patience, energy, and emotional support in dealing with me, because I’m out of those things to offer myself. I’ve been missing out on things I love, because I physically can’t handle my reactions to those environments, and because I don’t have the physical or emotional energy. It devastates me when this happens; I end up crying the whole way home because I feel I’ve let others down.

I feel as if everywhere I turn, everything I do, everyone with whom I interact…I’m simply failing them, isolating them, or causing them to view even talking with me as tiresome. Most of all, I feel I’m failing myself, and if it turns out my time on this earth is more limited than I’d like it to be, I’m spending it in the wrong way. I shouldn’t be using my days to become more estranged and disappointed with myself, and more overwhelmed by feelings of failure. I know I shouldn’t give up on hope, but it’s in short supply these days.

I just want myself back, the one who could keep up with anything, and had seemingly endless energy and enthusiasm. I miss that person who had friends and admirers around her because she knew how to be interesting, and lively, and positive. I miss that person who didn’t feel utterly forgettable, or worse yet, burdensome.

I don’t expect people to understand…but I feel as if I’m consistently drowning in my own failures or shortcomings. It’s a tough place to be.

I meant to spend some time posting a well-crafted update on here today, but instead, I spent a lot of my writing energy sending e-mail to friends and actually doing work, which is important, too. So, although I know you’re all devastated, part two of yesterday’s story is simply going to have to wait. (yes, yes, I know…nobody actually reads this enough to care about my stories. :P )

Over the past few weeks, I’ve become involved with a site called Swap-Bot, which I love. It gives me a no-pressure, random approach to creativity, as well as a chance to share with people from all over the world. I loved getting mail from abroad when I was younger, and I still have that certain little thrill when I open up my mailbox and see something from halfway around the world. It’s like a glimpse into a world you may never see. I imagine that The Guy I Am Currently Dating probably thinks this new hobby is silly, since it requires more frequent trips to the post office, and he never comments on any of my handmade/decorated envelopes, or asks what’s inside. However, since I can’t go out in the world as much as I’d like lately, it makes me happy to have the world come to me. It makes me happy to know that if I am not here tomorrow, there are pieces of me out there somewhere….and perhaps they briefly touched someone. I suppose that’s what I’m looking for…I suddenly have this desire to share, and connect, and create, and leave an indelible mark on the world, as if I don’t have that much time in which to do it.

Part of me is convinced that perhaps I don’t have as much time on this earth as I always assumed I would. Another part of me just believes living life to the fullest means living each day being aware of the possibility that there’s never enough time. Say the things to the people you need to hear them. Express your feelings. Put yourself out there. Make someone that touches your life feel valued. Put aside ego and fear of rejection and failure. Share love without wondering if it will be taken the wrong way. I think if we all tried to live that way, we’d be so much happier.

In any case, someone on SwapBot left me a lovely photo today. If it were a poster (which perhaps it is), I’d probably frame it and put it in my living room. It’s just that sort of beautiful, to me.

Only four more days until my visit with the ear specialist, and I’m hoping it’s good news, even if “good news” for me means surgery. A diagnosis, the ability to do something to improve how I’m able to live my life, is “good news for me, whatever it may be. In the meantime, I’ll be keeping myself busy with helping The Guy I Am Currently Dating with his annual Serenity screening on Sunday, and perhaps playing some trivia. I wish I were more inspired to work, seeing as the insane medical bills keep piling in, but I’m not. It’s part of that whole “life’s too short” thing.

Instead, I’ll spend another hour on so reading my biography of Dorothy Parker, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. I notice that the people that fascinate me, the ones that have had crazy adventures to rival some of mine, are also typically rather disturbed individuals in one way or another. Brilliant, vivacious, often loved by many…but disturbed. I wonder if that’s a trait I recognise in myself and feel a kinship with, or most interesting people are simply kind of crazy. ;P

This morning I woke up to discover that my cable and internet were down; the icing on the cake for what I like to call the 2011 Summer Of Doom. After verifying that, yes, everything was plugged in properly, and, no, the dog didn’t unplug one of the multitude of cords and splitters that ensure delivery of TV and internet happens throughout the apartment on a daily basis, I was told they’d send someone out. After explaining that I worked from home and internet connectivity was essential to my job, they said they’d upgrade my case to “urgent” status. This means, at the very latest, someone will be by between 11-2 PM tomorrow, which in cable guy time, probably means 5 PM.

Annoying as this is, I kind of have the same feeling you’d get when you were a kid and there was an unexpected snow day. It’s that “YAY, I totally don’t have to do anything at all today!” feeling, which everyone appreciates. There’s a difference between choosing to do nothing…which everyone does from time to time, but it’s easy to feel guilty about being lazy….and actually having a valid impediment that makes it impossible for you to be productive.

For some reason, it gave me flashbacks to the summers I spent at CTY (also known as Center For Talented Youth; also self-mockingly called “genius camp”. ) For those who have never heard of it, it’s a 3-week program for kids 11-16 that score exceptionally well on the SAT’s at a very early age. The program is sort of a mini-introduction to college life, and allows kids to stay on a college campus while taking a freshman or sophomore-level college course. It was actually an incredibly structured program, but for thousands of overachieving youngsters, often with extremely pushy and demanding home lives, it allowed for a specific type of freedom. It allowed for “finding yourself” long before the age when most people actively started looking for themselves.

In any case, I adored my summers at “genius camp”, where I took all manner of writing classes…not because I had any specific desire to be a writer, but because my math scores weren’t in any way, shape, or form “genius”, and I was restricted to humanities-based classes. One of the built-in facets of ‘genius camp’ was that from 7-9 PM each night, you were required to stay in your dorm room, preferably to study, read, or work on homework. As one of the more extraverted spirits on a campus full of introverts, I always thought the two hours of “lockdown” would be tough for me…no TV, no radio, no distractions, just you, your thoughts, some books, and some paper. As it turned out, this “lockdown” time is what put me in touch with my introspective side, something that was previously neglected, with a highly busy schedule, demanding family life, and need to be popular and well-liked and all of that.

Years later, after learning about the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory, I read that my personality type (ENFP) is the only extraverted type that needs regular opportunity for introspection. Apparently, it is my nature to learn, observe, experience, and take things in from being around other people…and later process them internally. In some ways, that’s the very essence of what blogging is, and perhaps why it’s a creative outlet that suits me much better than, say, trying to write a book or getting sucked into the world of academic research.
The result of those years at “genius camp” is that I learned just how distracted I truly am by any possible distraction in my vicinity. Even when I think I’m concentrating on one thing, there’s another part of my mind that’s thinking of three other things I might be doing. I learned to appreciate those few hours of forced, distraction-free “alone” time, because it helped me feel a little more centred and fond of my own life, even on those days when I wasn’t the most productive. Of course, I was also the first person to be excited about the two hours of social time that followed those study hours, because the chance to have fun and meet other people typically trumps introspection any day…at least it did until I hit about 27.

Days where everything decides to slow down and shut off, days like today, remind me of those locked-down study hours at “genius camp”, and although my first response to the inconvenience is general annoyance, I then feel a little happy about having the time to myself. I can write in my blog, I can read, I can work on some of the crafty projects I’ve been doing for Swap-Bot, I can write long e-mails to friends I won’t have opportunity to send until later…and I don’t have to feel guilty because I could be using that time more productively, making money, or doing things that other people would rather have me do. It’s anxiety-free, distraction-free time, and I wonder if maybe having a bit more of that in my life would help me cope with the anxiety-related aspects of my recent illness a little better. Perhaps I should start taking more regular retreats at Starbucks (if I still lived in a city, or a walkable area, I definitely would.), and stop feeling that even when I’m at home, suffering through the equivalent of “bed rest”, I need to be constantly entertained by outside forces, or working, or stressing over my situation.

As an adult, two hours of uninterrupted quiet doesn’t sound so much like a punishment anymore. And, I was reminded of another entertaining “genius camp” story to relate in the future…but that will have to wait for a future day of blogging.

Happy Tuesday, everyone! (and if you’re wondering, this post made it up courtesy of someone’s very slow unsecured wireless network.)

Earlier today, I stumbled across this article:

It seems like men have been doing this for as long as time itself, whether through the use of prostitutes, courtesans, geisha, or simply having mistresses. However, now it’s “therapy” for women?

Not sure I’m buying that. It’s way easy to work out your issues…physical, mental, emotional….with someone who isn’t your partner, is non-threatening to you, isn’t there to judge you, and has a selfish interest in making you feel better about yourself. However, the hard work is working on those issues with your partner in the context of a committed and loving relationship.

No doubt, when issues of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse occur, therapy is necessary. But therapy in the form of having sex with someone who isn’t your partner isn’t therapy, any more than working out your issues by getting drunk, doing drugs, or picking up strangers at a bar. If you’re not working on building your relationship by working through your shit within that relationship, the foundation of your relationship isn’t as strong as you think. “I used to be scared of sexual relationships, but now I’m married because my partner and I have a great sex life because I figured it out through great sex with a stranger” seems shallow and false on so many levels.

If that’s not true, if I’m wrong, why all the endless struggle to be a monogamous society, and why all the endless condemnation for the two-thirds of us that typically fall short of that goal? Why not accept “I’d be a better wife/husband if I could have occasional sex with someone who understood me better/nagged me less/made me feel more special/did crazier stuff in bed.” as a valid viewpoint for how relationships are conducted?

I absolutely believed that to be a valid viewpoint for a very long time….hence the polyamoury….and part of me still does. But it’s not to be confused with therapy, working on yourself, or addressing your issues between yourself and your partner.

In much the same way that buying a vibrator or watching porn isn’t a substitute for communicating with your partner about a less-than-ideal sex life, simply having sex with someone who’s good at having sex isn’t a substitute for working through issues, whether personal or relationship-oriented. The effects of rape, incest, sexual abuse, and domestic abuse are long-term and difficult to get over, and learning to have a healthy, loving relationship after those experiences can be difficult. Instead of teaching survivors how to trust intimacy, isn’t it a better idea to teach how to trust intimacy with your partner? And if said partner doesn’t have the patience or emotional depth to work on those issues, isn’t it better to teach finding a more compatible partner?

Part of the problem with psychiatric health and emotional healing nowadays is that everything is a form of therapy, and nearly everything is an addiction or a compulsive behavior. If taking an experienced and talented lover is therapy for sexual problems, I want to see the return of prescriptions for cocaine and opium for anxiety and depression. Maybe we’re just trying to make the treatments out there more enjoyable, and with less side effects than the little pills your doctor is liable to hand you for whatever ails you.

All summer, like every summer, I’ve been addicted to watching the show Big Brother. Since we all know that I’m a reality TV junkie, and am particularly fond of this one, having gone through the audition process firsthand, the idea of three months with a reality show that’s on three hours a week always kind of makes me “YAY!”. And, this year, being sick and largely relegated to my bedroom all summer, I ordered Showtime so I’d get to see the additional “late night show” every night, all summer. (yes, I’m a lame geek.)

This season, there was a particular player, Rachel, who returned from last season, one that everyone else in America (and on the show) couldn’t stand, but I felt a particular kinship with. I suppose she reminded me a lot of me—intelligent, overemotional, slightly co-dependent, insecure, a little too flamboyant, occasionally a “mean girl”, a bad habit of sharing all her feelings and wanting to give up when things fall apart—-but with an outgoing personality and general love of life, and deep down, a good heart. Not to mention the bright red hair, pale skin, and some serious curves. Granted, she’s much more interesting to spend 70 days camping in a studio set than I’d ever be, but I found it very easy to relate to her, nevertheless.

Throughout the summer, I had a number of negative health experiences, including several trips to the emergency room and unpleasant drug withdrawals. And, coincidentally, it seemed every day I was having a particularly bad day, Rachel was on the block and looked ready to get shown the door. It became an odd superstition with me, that if Rachel didn’t get evicted on Big Brother, somehow, I was going to be OK. I related with the underdog, of course, superstitiously believing that if this girl who resembled me in a lot of ways and didn’t consider herself emotionally strong under pressure could pull through difficult times, I could too.

So, congratulations to Rachel Reilly for winning the whole shebang on Big Brother 13 tonight. It proves that it doesn’t matter if people love you or hate you as long as you look around for all the self-confidence you have somewhere inside you and put it to the best use possible. And as far as superstitions go, I guess I can take it as a really good omen.

Oh, yeah, and CBS…you should have put me on your show almost a decade ago. I still have the cute duckie PJs from the audition process. (I thought it would be cute to include a “Here’s what you can expect seeing me getting up every morning.” component to my interview.) Maybe there will be another crazy video forthcoming over the next few months, just for kicks and giggles.(It’s not like my life is too interesting or scandalous anymore. I’d have made better reality TV back then.) But, you know, if I’m alive and all. :P

Time to start getting addicted to the new Survivor, which I actually found dull, based on the 90 minute premiere tonight. I’m sure it’ll get a little better as time goes on.

A few days ago, I considered writing a post about September 11th, as I do every year. However, with all the feelings of personal anxiety and loss that have consumed my life lately, I figured the last thing that was helpful for me was to dwell on a traumatic experience that none of us will ever forget. In fact, it’s impossible to believe a decade has passed, since I can recall that day, both in a real and an emotional sense, as if it happened yesterday.

A decade. It’s a long time, a third of my life. It’s been enough time for me to live many different lives, that phase that people often refer to as “finding themselves”, and since that time did in fact encompass my 20′s, it makes sense that more should happen in a decade than I’d have ever thought possible in the previous decade of my life, when I wondered if anything notable or exciting would ever happen to me.

Tomorrow, September 15th, is my 10 year anniversary: the day I first got myself on an airplane and moved my life (and whatever fit into two suitcases) to Atlanta, a city I’d never seen, to live with a guy I barely knew. The story itself is not lacking in drama, as this ex-boyfriend and I met online and kept up communication over a period of years. We met,shared some amazing experiences, and a month or so later, I found myself packing up my life to move to Atlanta. The plan was to come here for a few months, see how I liked it, see how the relationship worked.

Ironically, after weeks of discussion and debating, I committed to buying a non-refundable ticket to fly out of New York on Sept. 12, 2011. As if some angel were on my shoulder, I made a last minute change to fly out of Philly, and decided to spend the 10th and 11th with family, since I didn’t anticipate seeing them for perhaps another 6 months.

I won’t go into what happened on the 11th…a day filled with panic and fear and worry and nobody reaching anyone on their cell….but I do remember where I was. I was actually up, on my computer, chatting with a friend in Australia, when you could simultaneously hear the entire block turning on their televisions.

I spent days in the airport, from the 11th-15th, because my tickets were non-refundable, and every Amtrak and car service for miles was booked. At some point, it seemed the entire East Coast was shut down, and everyone was on edge waiting to see if their city would be next. The airports were giving the Project Runway view on things, “Either you’re in, or you’re out”.

I chose to wait it out, and predictably, every time I got close to departing, the flight was canceled. On my 17th try, with 10 minutes to go before boarding, my flight changed from “Departing” to “Canceled”, and I reached a breaking point. I swore, I threw my luggage, and caused a scene right in the middle of the lobby. Before I know it, a large, pissed-off-looking guy is approaching me, and I’m preparing to get thrown out of the airport after all my trouble. Instead, he asked what the problem was. When I told him, he asked if I had my passport and other travel documents. Fortunately, I did, just in case I decided to stay put in Atlanta for awhile.

I’ll never forget that large, pissed-off-looking airline employee. He told me that while most domestic flights would be canceled for that day, there was an international flight leaving for Air Mexico. Being somehow related to Delta, which has a hub in Atlanta, the Air Mexico flight was returning to Atlanta for refuel.

Thanks to that guy, I made it to Atlanta a few days before most airports re-started their domestic schedules, but we also were able to see “Phantom Of The Opera” at the Fox on my first night in town. (As a surprise for my then-boyfriend, and also because I saw it as positive that something I loved was right there in Atlanta, I’d booked us tickets for the closing night show, and was certain I’d never get there.)

As for Atlanta, once I got there, I didn’t like it. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but it reminded me more of Orlando than a major city. I mostly didn’t like it because it wasn’t New York, it wasn’t Philly, it wasn’t D.C. or London or any other city I enjoyed. I didn’t like that everything looked like someone took Brooklyn, stretched it out, and dumped a highway in the middle of it. I didn’t like that everyone had a car, and needed one, and I didn’t even have a license. I didn’t like that I was brand-new and didn’t know a soul in the city, except for the boyfriend I was staying with, who’d only arrived a few weeks earlier for school and didn’t know the place any better than I did. In short, I was homesick. I was bored. I missed the world I lived in where I had a lot of friends, always went out, and spent a lot of time being the centre of attention. I didn’t have a job, didn’t know how to make friends,found the performing arts scene to be non-existent, and the idealistic romance bit is much better when you not only don’t move in with someone you’ve been seeing for a few weeks, but you don’t move in to a single room. I spent a lot of time not being honest about myself, my life, what I felt, what I wanted, and who I was. For the first three months, I was actually miserable.

And, then, something happened. I went home, and I realised all these little things I thought I hated, I actually missed. I liked seeing the green trees, and walks around Midtown, and the run-down pizza place near where I was living. I did what people do. I started being real about my life and my future. I found a job, started making friends, and when the relationship didn’t work out, despite nearly two years of efforts to repair it, I found a place to live. It was one of the crappiest places ever, one of those places where college students live with 6 roommates in a house largely neglected by a slumlord. There were roaches, and the “living room” became a storage room populated by stuff left behind by the constantly rotating cast of roommates. In fact, it was no different from my own college days.

A few jobs later, some attempts at dating, and a new apartment, and it finally seemed like I had a home. I never meant for it to work out that way…frankly, I still didn’t much care for Atlanta and its lack of urban flair and dependance on cars (the fact that the city’s most famous citizen, Margaret Mitchell, was killed by a streetcar illustrates exactly the long history of apathy that the city has towards pedestrians.), but life worked out that way. I made friends, I had relationships, I had jobs…and when all of those things stopped working out,and changes had to be made, I considered each and every time that it was time to leave. But I never did. I “transitioned”, but I never just packed up and went back home…maybe because I don’t know there’s anyplace that is “home” for me. At so many opportunities, I could have, and likely should have, started over somewhere else.

But I’m still here, a decade and a few lifetimes later. I’m a little more jaded, and perhaps even a little more elegant than when I arrived. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but after a decade of searching and learning life lessons the hard way, I know who I want to be, and that counts for something. Once I decided to start letting people in rather than clinging to a rotating cast of acquaintances and adventures, I started to make friends…the type you can count on when you need bail money or a ride to the hospital or your roommate almost gets you evicted. Somewhere along the way, I traded in my out-6-nights-a-week, devoted-to-polyamoury, please-don’t-limit-me persona, and rediscovered the girl that stepped off the airplane and believed in adventure and love and the idea that anything is possible, and your life can be anything you want it to be, as long as you work at creating it. I’ve been in a stable relationship for a long time with a guy, and our biggest sources of conflict come from arguments over whether or not we might have a future together (Imagine! Me? Future-thinking?) and whether or not he’s willing to move, if not out of Atlanta, at least into the city. (I hate the suburbs, and that’s one part of my future-dream I’m not willing to give up or compromise. I love the people, the energy, the noise, the shops, the restaurants, even the dirt and grime and unpleasantries you encounter. I am a city girl, somewhere deep in my soul, and I think I need that in my life to be happy…so I can’t be with someone who doesn’t share that dream for the future, I think.) I am still independent, still in a situation where it wouldn’t take much to move my life elsewhere…but some of the people in my life here are like family to me. Not my family, whom I found remarkably easy to leave and difficult to visit for more than a few weeks a year, but the supportive and loving family I’ve always wanted. I have a support network. And,though sometimes I’ve seriously considered it, it’s still hard to leave.

Atlanta’s a lot like the Mafia. You may not like it, you may even think it has some kind of bad karma that’s making your life tougher than it needs to be but something about it will always pull you back in.

I think maybe it’s all because of that deal I struck with God on September 15th, 2001, when I was a terrified girl riding alone on a plane in the wake of a devastating terrorist attack, and still willing to face fear and risk everything for the possibility of a once-in-a-lifetime, all-encompassing love. I said, “Dear God, if you just get me there safely, I’m never going to leave.”

I sometimes wonder if there’s an expiration date on that promise. ;) My life still isn’t exactly as I’d like it to be, and often, I think it has something to do with where I live—it’s impossible to be independent in the suburbs of a city that’s been widely noted for having the worst public transit system of any large metropolitan area, and not being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it is always a problem for me—-, and the fact that I’m still not where I want to be in terms of living on my own, earning the salary I need to keep me happy, and being lazy about achieving my personal goals. I’m still letting the Destroyer Of Self-Esteem that lives in my head (and is doubled as an actual human being, in the form of the Mother Of The Guy I Am Currently Dating) limit my choices and dictate how I feel about myself.

And of course, spending the last few months scared to death by a chronic illness that a seemingly endless team of doctors have not been able to treat, nor identify, much less cure, has made me realise there’s no such thing as immortality. There are no extra lives, no extra energy pellets that keep you going. In a way, I’m exactly where I was a decade ago….on the precipice of a huge shift in my life.

I think, should I find myself able to recover from this illness and regain my life and my energy and my independence, I’ll be as elated as the first moment my plane touched down in Atlanta, and I realised “Everything is going to be OK.” I’ve had so many moments that weren’t OK, but also so many that were more than OK, that I don’t think I’d trade a single one for “Nothing special ever happens to me”.

Edith Piaf’s defiant song about regretting nothing rings true to me. I do, of course, have regrets. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve hurt people, I’ve made stupid choices. But in the end, they took me a step closer to where I’m supposed to be, and who I’m supposed to become. I don’t know if I care for Atlanta, after a decade of living here. But even after all the pain and heartache I’ve experienced in this city, getting on the airplane that day was still the best thing that ever happened to me.