Since I’ve been told this is one of my more entertaining stories, I’m happy to report that there’s yet a new chapter to the saga of the rather imbalanced girl I’ve referred to as “G” on this blog. If you haven’t heard the first two parts to this story, you should catch up with the beginning here., and I’ll re-tell the last bit (apologies to my regular readers) in order to keep the flow of the story working well.

We figured she was gone for good, but after New Year’s Day had barely drawn to a conclusion, this message showed up in the e-mail box of The Guy I Am Currently Dating. (for some reason, she has no inclination to communicate with me.)

“I was fortunate enough to attend a New Year’s Eve party with Ron Glass, inter alia. He found the story of the pasty conceited fanboy and his fat defensive girlfriend as hilarious as the rest of the group did.”

The Guy I Am Currently Dating succinctly responded:

It is sad you are still obsessed with me.

I am never quite as succinct, and not one to mince words, or to let things go. Thus, I took the time to send a proper response:

Sweetheart, dollars to donuts (an appropriate metaphor here.) you weigh more than I do. And you’re not exactly Snooki in the paleness department, so you’re kind of opening yourself up for some unwanted attention in how you characterise others. As for me, I’ve gained 20 pounds recently due to heart medication..it takes a rather cruel person to mock someone’s physical appearance during their time of illness. Perhaps you should add that to your funny story!

Ah, and as a former actress, I know people everywhere. If you tell the story socially again, use our names, please….you might find yourself in a rather awkward situation. In fact, I worked in London for some time (I’m assuming that’s where you are.) and one of my best friends is working on assignment over there right now. Karma, my dear. Tell the story to everyone in the world, and we don’t give a shit…but karma will bite you in the ass every time.

The response:

“Yahoo has blocked this e-mail

Being the rather computer savvy individuals we are, we discovered that the e-mail was sent from a small town outside of Seattle, Washington…not nearly as far out of the country as we’d imagined. Nevertheless, we concluded perhaps she was visiting family, or her rick banker boyfriend really did exist, and was in Seattle. Either way, we sort of let the matter go, except for bringing it up at a post-dinner gathering, where another guy present that day told us she’d suggested, in the middle of dinner, that the two of them leave and go for dinner somewhere more private.

It appears that it bugs her immensely that my fat ass continues to wins more friends and admirers than her personality.

Again, since it was about a month since that interchange, we figured the communication was at an end. Of course, that wasn’t the case. And, once again, rather than responding to me directly, she chose to e-mail The Guy I Am Currently Dating. I don’t know whether it’s because she doesn’t talk to women, wants to involve him in the drama, or is just scared to hit the “Reply” button and answer my note, but she consistently goes through him.

What we got was this:

I think this rather speaks for itself. I don’t understand why she consistently mentions her fiance, who is now supposedly her husband, and how much money he has. It’s no secret that I’ve had admirers and ex-whatevers in my past that aren’t exactly broke…but what I’ve learned is that defining yourself based on how much money your significant other earns means you must think terribly little about yourself and your own accomplishments in life. We still have no idea whether or not this person is real. We’ve never met him, and her behaviour in public has always been that of a single woman rapidly exiting her 30′s and desperate for male attention. Even her photo, when she was on my Meetup, was of her in some sort of negligee, 15 years and 20 pounds thinner than the real life person. Even at that age and weight, the effect was not alluring, but sad. If she is married, it’s no wonder her husband snoops through her e-mail.

I also don’t understand why my mentioning anyone would care about my weight and health issues (and I’d hardly consider putting on another 20 pounds a “weight issue”, although it’s problematic to me, and apparently to this girl.) is taken as self-absorbed. I only pointed out that before people call others “fat”, maybe they should consider that that person is suffering through greater problems in life than food and body image issues, and the negativity is cruel. I find her lack of ability to empathise with others a bit disturbing; one of the hallmarks of both narcissistic and psychopathic personalities.

If I knew where she lived, I’d invest $10 in sending her a new dictionary, so she can spell things correctly when she’s attempting to put others in their place. Although, from what I hear, she has a husband who can afford it.

Seriously, are all people this disturbed, or just ones we meet in Atlanta?

Earlier this month, I came across a great book called 365: A Year Of Journal Prompts, and promptly added it to my Kindle. It was one of my intentions this year to focus on my writing as something I like to do, rather than something I need to do, which is often what I feel when a specific deadline is looming over my shoulder.

When I had my tarot cards and my astrological chart read for the upcoming year—by two different sources, incidentally—both told me that 2012 was going to be a year for life to be put on “pause”, rather than one of adventure or decisive action. This made sense to me, since I knew a main focus of my year would be concentrating, little by little on improving my well-being, on getting on a path where managing my illness doesn’t have to zap my strength or dictate my mood or my life. At first, I was extremely depressed about this. I’m the sort of person who likes big gestures, fast solutions to problems, impulsive reactions, instant gratification. Learning there was no surgery, no magic pill, no quick fix that would take me back to the person I was plunged me into a state of depression for about two weeks. To some, it would be encouraging to hear that with time and patience and the willingness to face fears and anxieties, life would steadily get better. But for me, the eternal realist (and often pessimist), all I heard were words like “chronic condition” and “permanent damage” and “physical and emotional rehabilitation.” All I heard was that I wasn’t going to magically get my life back, I wasn’t going to be able to just ditch the drug that caused me to gain over 20 pounds and zap my energy level, I wasn’t going to be the person I used to be for a very long time.

I didn’t react very well to learning that it would be a year of “pause”, because there are so many things with which I am discontent, things I’d like to change about my life. Shortly after the disheartening news about my life came disheartening news about my job, which no longer gives me the economic and practical sense of stability it once did. I am again a starving artist, uncertain about the future, not sure where life will take me. I used to enjoy that uncertainty at one point in my life, but now, it causes me anxiety. Ironically, both my tarot reading and astrological chart for the year told me that I could expect to experience setbacks, which were necessary to my greater success in life.

Another thing that my tarot reading mentioned was that I have a lot of “success” aspects in my cards, in my natal chart, in what’s perceived to be my personality in general. Countless times, psychics and astrologers and tarot readers and other intuitives have told me that I will have great material success in my life, thanks to my ambition and determination. I always laugh at this, sitting there with no long-term career prospects, a retired actress that no longer has the looks or charisma or talent to perform, a chaotic dreamer with little business sense, a person who keeps getting knocked down by life every time success gets anywhere close. Yet, year after year, they tell me this same thing. Contrary to what my mother always advised me to do, it is not that I will marry well. I will be the one in control of building an empire for myself.

I can’t say I put a ton of stock into all that sort of thing, but it’s amusing to have someone predict your fortune. Sometimes, though, it goes beyond uncanny to relatively specific details that don’t necessarily apply to everyone..and then you have to start to wonder. Is there really such a thing as someone with the gift of intuition enhanced to the point that they can see into who you are, as well as who you might become?

This success thing has always baffled me, because I have always seen myself as someone ill-equipped for success. At this point in my life, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that sometimes I have so many dreams and ideas and thoughts and things I wish to communicate swimming around in my head, that I’m not sure what to do with them. More often than not, I ignore them, and go back to my daily routine. I take my anxiety pill and try to relaaaaaaaaax.

I read somewhere recently that anxiety was an artist’s natural response to pent-up emotion, to not being given an adequate creative outlet. After that, I got this idea in my head that I was going to compile my poetry, even if I never published it. I was going to write a book of fiction, even if I never let another person read it. And I was going to use my blogs and journals to release whatever it was that was hiding, causing my sudden shift from free-spirited example of joie de vivre to being physically and emotionally overwhelmed by too much life. Is it really as simple as a nerve in my inner ear that doesn’t know how to calm down, that freaks out when it’s given too much information to process, and responds with demands for anti-anxiety pills and alcohol and silence? Or is it some other newly discovered fear in my life that’s erected a road block, one designed to keep me from living too freely.

All my life, I’ve fought tooth and nail against those who would constrain and limit me, who judged and disliked me for living too freely. Ironically, the largest fight seems to occur from within, as if those people, those voices, have set up shop somewhere inside my essential self.

Hence, when I found this book, giving 365 prompts for the journal writer, I decided I would spend a year answering the questions presented in my posts; whether telling a story, reflecting on the question, or doing some soul searching. The questions appear to be for the personal journal-keeper, but I can never seem to remind myself to write in my handwritten journal on a daily basis. The thoughts flow more freely here.

The first day’s prompt is this: What strengths have you developed over your life?

It isn’t as easy as I’d think, answering this question. I have always been smart, but not particularly ambitious or motivated to make good use of those strengths, so it’s more a positive quality than something I’ve developed. I’ve always found it easier to make friends and find lovers…but I’ve found it equally effortless to make enemies and incur hatred from those who don’t even know me, so I’m going to disqualify people skills from the list. There are other ways I could describe myself; unconventional, free-thinking, uniquely attractive, quirky, humourous, well-traveled, well-read, a talented performer, a good friend…but sadly, many of these have been transient qualities. When difficult times hit, at various points in my life, I found myself essentially abandoning many of these qualities, replacing them with inhibition. Uncertainty went from meaning possibility to signifying danger. I was no longer as young, as fun, as attractive. I stopped performing, stopped traveling, stopped making as much time for those I care about as I’d like to. I stopped seeing shows, listening to music, reading books I like. I found how easy it was to lose myself.

Yet, I am not lost. I know who I am, if I sometimes forget. I am sensitive, fragile even, but I am also strong, something I never considered myself to be. The quality life has instilled in me…often with me fighting every step of the way….is resilience. When life knocks me down in a way that disables others, I always find a way to get back up. I always find a way to begin again, to reinvent myself, to replace old dreams and circumstances and ways of life with new ones. I do not handle these defeats with grace; I cry, I scream, I hate the world and everyone in it, I sulk in a depression for awhile, listen to emo music and refuse to get out of bed, wonder what it would feel like to close my eyes and never get up…but I always do. I always find a way to survive, even in situations that seem to unbearable for me to comprehend muddling through. I’ve always come through, one way or another. It’s as if the word survivor is encoded in my DNA. Some of these experiences, I still can’t think about. They terrify me. They give me nightmares. They make me feel unbearably alone. But I always remember, “I am here, and somehow, I am supposed to be successful”.

Part of what the tarot reader told me regarding 2012 was that I needed to make peace with my past, because not doing so was keeping me from my future. She did not know I was working on a collection of short stories that are loosely based upon some of my own life history, nor that I had more of a past and less peace than most.

Perhaps the lesson I’m learning now is that you can always move on, you can always adapt, reinvent, thrive, prosper…but wherever you go, everything you’ve ever been and done, everyone you’ve ever loved and hated, it all goes with you. I’m not sure how to let go, or even if we’re meant to. I think that maybe, making peace and practicing forgiveness and non-judgment towards yourself and others is one way to begin.

Life has taught me that on the outside, I might appear a little delicate, a little high-maintenance, a little less likely to adapt to new circumstances than others. But beyond that exterior, there’s something in me that’s a fighter. Even when I’d like to simply give up, that piece of me won’t let me take the easy way out, walk away, let others win. I’m strong and resilient, words that I’d never apply to the somewhat pampered, oversensitive, overemotional, histrionic person I’ve always been. Other people have called me narcissistic, and I firmly reject that label: but sometimes, I wonder if there’s an element of truth to that off-handed characterisation often applied to people that others simply don’t understand, those who seem to live in their own little world.

Maybe there’s a tiny piece of narcissism and pride that will fight tooth and nail to help me survive virtually anything, when a majority of me simply doesn’t feel strong enough.

The next time someone calls me narcissistic, or an egotist, I will inwardly remember to thank them. Without that tiny piece of my psyche that may very well be those things, I might not be here today. It’s much harder to survive and come back from difficulty than it is to simply let things fall apart. That knowledge is, I think, the most important strength I’ve learned throughout my lifetime.

I think that maybe I need to live in NYC or LA or someplace where altering your name isn’t exactly scandalous. Here’s some news: Lady Gaga and Ke$ha aren’t names listed on anyone’s birth certificates, either. :P

I’m quite annoyed at the moment. Someone, potentially someone I don’t even know or only know through another person, sent out an e-mail to a friend of mine informing him that the name I go by is not my legal name.

Not really breaking news. Anyone who is anything close to resembling a good friend knows this. What I don’t get is why this is such a big deal? Those in the entertainment industry change their names constantly. And since I’ve performed under my name since the age of 15, and now publish under my name, there’s a certain time period where the name you go by is your actual name. It should kind of work the way common law marriage works.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: why are my personal life choices any of your business? Even if I have secrets, and everyone does, why does it give you the right to pry into my personal affairs? Especially if you don’t even, or barely know me, or are just stalking me on the internet, or met me a few times on social occasions? What right do you have to interfere in my personal relationships with others?

If we’re close, and there are things I want to tell you about myself and my life, I will…when I’m comfortable doing so. My past bears absolutely no relation to your present. Knowing me does not come with the innate right to know everything about me. That privilege must be earned, as I assume you’re not going to tell me everything that’s every happened in your life until we’re fairly close.

So the fact that a third party feels entitled to reveal personal information about me to others, that angers me. It’s MY life. Shouldn’t it be MY choice, when I want to open up and share things with other people. Contrary to Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy, we don’t live in a Big Brother kind of world where everyone is entitled to know everything about everyone and make judgments accordingly—before ever even meeting someone.

I don’t know how to make my outrage any clearer. I’ve done nothing wrong. The people who insist on dragging out aspects of my past and my personal life and either making them public knowledge, or using the information to sabotage friendships, personal relationships, and my reputation are in the wrong. The guy who sent this note to someone he doesn’t even know about my personal business is in the wrong. The former date who felt so slighted by me that he e-mailed naked photos I shared with him in private to other people is in the wrong. The person who feels the need to confront and embarrass me in public about private details of my life is in the wrong.

If you are not me, and not sleeping with me, and not my best friend, you don’t have an innate right to knowledge of everything I’ve ever done, said, or been. If you’re not even in my circle of friends, it’s certainly not your place to make sure everyone knows things *I* should be entitled to choose to tell others, or not. I am not a celebrity; I’m just some random person with enough balls to put herself out there in a world that REALLY takes advantage of that.

I don’t understand the way people act, and I can’t help but think if I were not in Atlanta, this would not continue to be an issue. We all have a past, we all come from somewhere, we’ve all made mistakes, pissed people off…and we’ve all decided to rebuild, start over, become something closer to the person we’d like to be.

I am not in the wrong here. Unless we have a personal relationship of some sort, the sordid details of my life are none of your fucking business.. Why not concentrate on making your own life a better and happier place rather than feeling a personal obligation to interfere with others?

But, I promise, when I go through the technicality of getting my name legally changed, I will make sure to post it on the Internet, for the five people who still care. I wouldn’t want to have a secret nobody knows about. Am I obligated to disclose what I had for breakfast today? The number of sexual partners I’ve had? The names of my great-great-great grandparents? Would you like to know what I just wrote about people you’ve never even met in my secret diary, or what brand of tampons are my personal favourite?

I am a person, even if I put myself out there by daring to keep a blog on the internet, or hosting a social group where I meet a lot of different people. If you want to know more about that person…get to know me, or don’t. Either way, I’m pretty at peace with myself, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. What I’m not at peace with is judgment. I don’t subject you to mine; I don’t e-mail your spouse because I’ve heard you’re having an affair, or speculate with my friends about your sexuality because you don’t seem to go on a lot of dates. I don’t care where you get your money, if you have a rap sheet and a mug shot, and even though that teardrop tattoo might make me think twice about getting too involved, I still don’t judge your choices. You don’t have to like me. But you do have to treat me with the respect afforded to every human being, including respecting my privacy.

If you just can’t stand me, don’t interact with me. Pretend I don’t exist. We’ll likely never see one another again, and if we do, we don’t even have to say hello. There are plenty of better things to do in life than dig up dirt on other people. This nonsense has been going on in various forms for a decade, and I don’t get it. I suppose I should be flattered that I’m just so immensely interesting…or live in such a boring city.

Maybe I’ll secretly have some plastic surgery. Or maybe I’ll just change my name again? I could be far more creative….

In summary, four words: None. Of. Your. Business.

Trust me, if you interest me enough that I want you to be part of my circle of friends and privy to my personal secrets, you’ll know about it. I choose my friends wisely. As I’ve learned the hard way, I have to.

For a pretty boring girl, it amuses me that I’m so consistently “scandalous”. If only I had the money to go along with it, the Real Housewives Of Atlanta would have my phone ringing off the hook. :P

Perhaps it’s a good sign, one that means I’m regaining some strength and ability to concentrate on more than just 30 minute television shows, but I’ve gotten back into the habit of reading a good deal lately. I think some of this is to do with the fact that The Guy I Am Currently Dating bought me a Kindle Fire for my birthday, and as with my enthusiasm for anything new, I very quickly filled up my shelves with classics I’d been meaning to read and interesting works on Amazon’s $3.99 or less shelf. However, ironically, most of what I’ve been reading seems to be in the format of actual books.

I love my new tablet, for a number of reasons; when I am well again, or at least well enough to travel or spend my days outside my apartment, I suspect I will greatly appreciate the convenience of never having to travel with a carry-on bag full of books and computer accessories. I love, love, love the size and portability of it, and since getting an awesome pink case for it, it kind of resembles a little pink Bible.

On the down side, however, a number of the books on my wishlist—particularly newer ones—have the Kindle version priced at twice what it would cost for a used version of the book, plus shipping. Once I’m finished with a book, I tend to keep it on my shelf (if I love it; I only have so much space.), send it to a friend (if it inspires me enough that I absolutely must share), swap it on Paperback Swap, or sell it back for a few dollars on Amazon. On the Kindle, once I’m done reading it, I can’t do anything else with it. Therefore, I’ll likely never pay full price for a Kindle book when the actual book is being sold for the same, or less. Why would anyone? I hope that as book readers become more popular, there are more businesses launched like Paperback swap or apps where you can swap books with friends. This is just what people do, and have always done.

Yet, I’ve gotten back to reading, something I’d abandoned when I first became ill because attempting to look at the words on the page would trigger vertigo. Instead, I’d gotten in the habit of simply crawling in my bed and watching TV at night until bed, or eventually, writing in my journal.

I’ll probably put up a page on the site about what I’m reading this year, but here are some of what I’m reading one month into things. (I doubt I’ll reach my 100 book a year quota this year, but that’s OK, because I’m covertly working on writing my own from time to time.)

Learning To Breathe:My Yearlong Quest To Bring Calm To My Life
I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book. While I’m a fan of Paulo Coelho and other writers who bring a sense of spirituality into their stories, you’re not ever going to catch me quoting from Eckhart Tolle or The Secret. I’m just far too much of a realist to really believe in what’s being espoused, though I have no doubt it’s helpful to others. However, this book was recommended to me by two different people in response to talking about my recent diagnosis with an anxiety disorder, and then I later read multiple articles where it was highly praised. It’s more of an “Eat, Pray, Love” story about coming to terms with yourself than a book of Louise Hay affirmations, which I appreciate. It also gave me a clearer understanding of what was happening to me; like me, the author suffered from having a “highly-strung” personality most of her life, but managed to live a fairly well-balanced, productive life, often self-medicating with vodka. She was unaware of having a panic disorder, or why she’d have one, until later in life, when forced to come to terms with the idea of mortality. Her journey through therapy, Buddhism, meditation, Klonopin, and all sorts of treatment is a good read for anyone who suffers with anxiety or panic attacks. These issues are rarely cured, but when the reason is identified and treated, it can get better. The down side? The author’s detailed descriptions of panic attacks provoked anxiety in moe in a way that I had to put the book down and come back to it later. It sucks to identify too much with someone else’s experiences, particular when they resemble your own.

The Book Of The Courtesans:A Catalogue Of Their Virtues. Like their Japanese counterpart, the geisha, the idea of the courtesan is an old-fashioned one that’s not understood in today’s society. Sometimes street prostitutes who worked their way up into a different realm of society, sometimes actresses and ballet dancers kept by a succession of powerful, rich, and titled aristocrats, sometimes middle-class girls longing for a better life, courtesans represented power in a time when women had none. Throughout history, these women lived independently and owned property when aristocratic women could not, freed themselves of the restraints of chastity and inhibition when society dictated that being confined and without want or feeling or opinion was the role of women, and associated with some of the most brilliant minds in history in a world where a woman’s purpose was largely decorative. Of course, in today’s society, where women are presented with more opportunities and the ability to choose independence in virtually any aspect of life, choosing to exploit one’s sexuality in exchange for being kept by a man, or series of men, is frowned upon—whether you’re a prostitute, stripper, gold digger, mistress, kept woman, or conniving baby mama. These women were all of the above, and their stories range from the dramatic to the tragic to the inspirational. (many of these women appear in paintings by grand masters, are the subjects of plays, operas, and novels, and have become synonymous with luxury and opulence. Some died penniless, or at the hands of the guillotine, or an enraged lover. Others became nuns or wrote novels. Still others married into aristocracy, and amassed fortunes beyond belief. One, Sarah Bernhardt, became the grande dame of the theatre, acting from her wheelchair well into her 80′s.) It’s a great book that re-examines what the meaning of “virtue” is, and should be, and gives a glimpse into many other periods of time in which beauty was less to do with physical beauty, and more to do with an innate ability to charm and captivate.

Wintergirls. A book I discovered because it was an Amazon special for the day, Laurie Halse Anderson has a lyrical way of writing that’s provocative and beautiful at the same time, much like the two girls whose stories she tells in the novel. Dealing with the lives of two teenage girls struggling through the angst of growing up—one with anorexia nervosa, the other with bulimia, and both lost and depressed souls struggling to appear normal in the midst of dysfunctional suburbia—it’s the kind of story that’s been told a million times, in every Lifetime movie. However, the way it’s written is extraordinary; the writer is unknown, but gifted. I’d liken her to Jodi Picoult, and I stayed up until 5 AM in order to finish the book in one reading. It also proved to me I could get into reading books on my Kindle.

Over the holidays, I also finished reading biographies of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, but for the sake of argument, we’ll say they belonged to last year’s list.

Next up, I have a few more biographies, as well as Paulo Coelho’s Aleph, which I will drop everything and read as soon as it arrives.

I haven’t tackled any classics yet, but maybe I’m just not in that classic state of mind quite yet. You see, Jersey Shore is back on, along with MTV’s new Challenge show, Battle Of The Ex-es. There’s also the Real Housewives Of Atlanta, Beverly Hills, and soon, Orange County…as well as Project Runway. February will bring Survivor and yet another Celebrity Apprentice, so I need to leave some quality reality TV viewing time.

Oh, and I’ve been catching up on How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory, although all out of order, which is often on the confusing side.

Regardless, I’m pleased to note that Atlanta is #4 on the most literate cities list (odd, because I can’t remember the last time someone wanted to engage me in a conversation about a book.). Washington D.C. is #1, but then, they were also ranked #3 on the list. Maybe people in D.C. are only rude because you’re trying to interrupt them WHILE THEY’RE READING? :P

Whatever. I’d personally give Atlanta a spot in the top 5 on the rudest cities list. I suspect that, for some reason, gossip, judgment, and passive-aggressive behaviour are not registered as “rude” on this study. If they’re measuring the capability to be a total jackass to a stranger and not lose any sleep over it, might I recommend my home city of Philadelphia (which I’m convinced is nicknamed “The City Of Brotherly Love” by those who appreciate irony.)?

“When he thought of Ellen Olenska, it was abstractly, serenely, as one might think of some imaginary beloved in a book or a picture; she had become the composite vision of all he had missed.” — Edith Wharton, The Age Of Innocence

A week or two ago, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I had a conversation about the concept of the “manic pixie”, which is actually a type of stock character in films (and I suppose, consequently, in all forms of artistic expression.) It made me laugh, because a week or so before that, another friend had used that phrase in an e-mail, and I thought it was a cute little description he’d invented to characterise a certain type of person he’d run into in his life.

To a certain extent, stock characters are the lifeblood of the acting industry, and also the nemesis of actors. If you are, like me, the type of actor who is more likely to land a role playing some exaggerated version of herself than transforming herself into someone quite different, being typecast is a hazard of the trade that can be difficult to overcome.

In theatre, it’s something you live with. Based upon your body shape, height, size, physical characteristics, vocal inflections, ability to sing and dance, and even your real, off-stage personality quirks, you’re able to figure out your type. Either you’re the leading lady or the ingenue, the girl next door or the evil, conniving vixen, the character actress or the comedienne who steals the show, a soprano or an alto, a featured dancer or one who’s hiding in the back fudging the steps. Almost every play or musical has a character that fits your “type”, so you spend a lot of time learning how others perceive you and how to make best advantage so you can play that perfect role for your “type”. You learn not to waste time auditioning for roles that don’t reflect your “type”; in fact, in most open auditions, you’ll be screened out before you even get to the theatre door. Once you’re Equity and your auditions are by appointment, your agent will typically only get calls from those who want to see you for a certain role. It can be frustrating, if you want to branch out and show you’re Meryl Streep, which is why many theatrical performers also work in television, on soap operas, and singing in rock bands or performing stand-up in their spare time.

The world of film is a little more forgiving, mostly because there are simply more “types”. Film is based to reflect the real lives of real people in a way that most theatrical productions and television shows are not; it’s often the reason why musical theatre stars can cross over to TV, but not into film. The habits that are ingrained that make everything larger than life are ridiculous on the silver screen, unless, like Nathan Lane and Christine Baranski and William Shatner, you play characters MEANT to be larger than life.

In any case, I learned that in film, “manic pixie” is actually a stock character, a modern-day muse that attracts others, despite being fucked-up in some way, because she opens the door to a world with which the main character—usually a love interest—is unfamiliar. Although disturbed, she is often idealised because of her ability to relate and connect and help others grow, to disconnect from the world of what is expected and retreat into a greater world of adventure and romance and possibility. Of course, this world is an illusion, an idealised version of life that can never hold up over the long term.

I had an acute moment of understanding when he discussed this with me, because it occurred to me that this has largely been reflective of my experience in real life. Although those who don’t think I’m anything special can’t quite figure it out, I’ve always had a certain ability to attract—-not everyone, but a certain kind of person—and to draw others into my world. I’ve always had the ability to draw others out of their shells, to inspire them to something different and greater, to succeed. I’ve dated normal people who have gone on to become millionaires, Broadway professionals, doctors, lawyers, idealists who work to change the world. I’ve dated a number of people who marry the first person with whom they share their heart after me, and who are quite happy as a result.

I’ve struggled with being idealised, and the sense of broken-heartedness that comes with the realisation that the one you love is in love with an image. The power of this image is so deluding it’s led me to involvements with married men who viewed me as something greater than the simple, ordinary girl I am, and has ended with people considering ending their relationships to pursue something with me…something that inevitably wouldn’t live up to the ideal.

All this, this is why people become interested in me, despite any obvious excess of wit or beauty or intelligence or grace or sense of humour or anything else people gravitate towards. It is why people not only forgive the many ways in which I’m screwed up and the oversensitivity I wear on my sleeve, but the flaws become endearing. It is also when I am devastated when I invest myself in another person, help them to make huge life changes, become the person they want to be, and they end up leaving me and marrying the next girl who comes along—whom I often notice is not as charismatic, not as vibrant, and often, not as open as I am. The inevitable feeling that follows is “Why am I always the person who molds other people so they can move on, and embrace a happier, more fulfilled life with someone other than me?”

The thing about life, as compared to movies, is that people grow…and even stereotypical characters have a layer of something else underneath that may take some effort to see, but it’s there. But, it’s scary to me in some ways to see how art imitates life, and vice versa. At least, it does in my case. I attract those who idealise some aspect of me, and in turn, am attracted by the idea of being seen as something larger and more unforgettable than I am. Unfortunately, this is not the basis for a healthy relationship, and it is the basis for a whole lot of friendships that become extremely complicated in one way or another.

Of course, for a person who also idealises everyone and everything else in the world, I suppose it’s right that I should attract the same. Finding myself in a relationship that has an aspect of rationality and logic and boundaries to it means that I am happier and stable than I’ve been at other points in my life, but I also often miss the sense of the whimsical, the spontaneous, the living in a world that’s somewhat unreal, but filled with big thoughts, big feelings, and big ideas.

I guess, in my way, I’ve always been a manic pixie…and never understood why anyone would tolerate, much less be attracted to, a “weird” person like myself. Suddenly, I understand how it happened that a guy I knew on the internet for a number of years fell in love with the illusion I created…often unknowingly…and I ended up moving to Atlanta to live out that perfect, intense romance, only to realise real life was nothing like I imagined. We hurt each other deeply, that ex and I, and I suspect a lot of it had to do with two overly idealistic souls not being able to face disillusionment and reality on a daily basis without feeling hurt, betrayed, and looking elsewhere for another person to fulfill that ideal.

And, yes, the Wikipedia entry makes reference to Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, which I still haven’t seen. :P

I’ve been feeling really lonely lately, isolated from the world. Even when people are around, sometimes I’m overwhelmed by this feeling of being alone and misunderstood.

I am not really the kind of person people should like lately, so it doesn’t surprise me when it seems like most people I know aren’t in a rush to return my phone calls or send an e-mail asking how I’m doing.

But it feels extraordinarily lonely, being the girl nobody sees. It’s as if the more physical space my body occupies, the more emotional space my feelings occupy, the less the world notices my existence.

It makes me really sad. Some days, I just want to disappear, and see how long it takes all my so-called friends and acquaintances to notice.

If I didn’t have a roommate, and someone I’m dating on a regular basis, I think it would take weeks before the world even noticed my absence if I died tonight. It makes me sad that I am that small, that inconsequential.

When you are not pretty or fun to be around or in a position to make people feel better about themselves, you don’t really matter much to people. You don’t have anything that interests them. Therefore, nobody gravitates towards you, or shows much interest in your company.

I notice that even with my closest “friends”, any communication that occurs usually does so because I think to send an e-mail or FB message or text or leave a voicemail asking how someone is doing, or reminding them that I miss them. Very rarely does anyone reach out to me, and I can’t remember the last time anyone called me up out of the blue to ask me if I wanted to go grab a drink, or coffee, or have dinner.

Even with all the energy I’ve put into my Meetup for the past 5 years, it seems I’m just the invisible force that makes things happen. People contact others on FB to friend them, exchange phone numbers, get together to do stuff with new friends they’ve met…but it’s literally been years since anyone new has reached out to me, or cared about my presence enough to want to be my friend.

So, what is it abut me that’s so inherently unappealing, unlikeable? I understand that a certain demographic will be indifferent toward my friendship because I am going through tough times, because I am not thin, attractive, single, energetic, sexually available, all those things that single people gravitate towards. But that isn’t everyone, or even a majority of the people I meet. There must be something about who I am, on a fundamental level…people are entertained by knowing me, but not enough to truly want to be my friend. If they do care to be my friend, it’s on a casual basis that too often seems one-sided. :(

The result is that I feel very isolated, not on par with the rest of the world. It’s like a big exclusive club I will never be a part of.

This knowledge makes me really hate people sometimes. Why I try to connect with anyone, I don’t know. It’s never really real.

I used to believe that I was special, that one day, I would be famous and wealthy and well-known and everyone would love me. The reality is that I’m in my early thirties, and it is irrelevant to the majority of the world if I exist or not….save a few people who truly care, and a few people who wish my death to be something that happens sooner rather than later, but not enough to do anything about it. And this makes me really sad.

I tried to talk to the Guy I Am (Was?) Currently Dating about this, and he became angry with me and blamed me for making bad choices, rather than trying in any way to make me feel better or convince me life was worth living.

Apparently, me being ill and unable to concentrate on work in order to do what I need to do to not get fired and not be able to walk more than 10 minutes or go to the store or not gain 5 pounds eating less than 1500 calories a day is a personal negative choice I’m making. If I was in the hospital with a disease that had a name, people would call and ask about me and bring me cookies. But because I’m just fucked up, it’s my own personal choice to be miserable. Kind of like when I was unemployed and my boyfriend yelled at me for missing out on a job because I was out of town with him and irresponsible enough to not spend the weekend checking my e-mail. It’s awesome when you tell someone how depressed you are about the state of your life and they blame and yell at you. That makes everything so much better.

Maybe if I just use the awesome power of positive thinking everything in the world will magically cure itself, and I’ll feel strong enough to work and find out most of my friendships aren’t me chasing after someone else getting them to talk to me and I won’t have $50,000 in unpaid medical bills the insurance company has denied and I won’t be making less than half of what I was making this time last year while pushing my body beyond its limits to work harder and I won’t have people blame me for my illness and I’ll be able to eat food like a normal human being without putting on 5 pounds a month and effectively ensuring nobody will ever be attracted to me again. Forgive me for not believing in the power of prayer, faery dust, and The Secret, but I’m a realist.

And realistically, it’s telling me none of that is going to happen. But you can’t really blame me for being depressed until you spend a month living in my world, and then you can tell me how much of my situation is due to my own negative personal choices.

So I’m going to disappear for awhile, and figure out who the fuck cares, and why. But, truly, I kind of doubt anyone will even notice, one way or the other.

We must overcome the notion that we must be regular. It robs you of the chance to be extraordinary, and leads you to the mediocre.”—Uta Hagen

Life has been a fairly stressful endeavour for me lately, but I feel as if I’ve been pushing myself, and I think that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, largely due to the types of drugs I am on, I don’t really have much stamina and endurance anymore. I used to be able to sit and work all night long if I needed to, or stay out until the sun came up, partying with my friends. These days, at some point, I inevitably start to feel tired and shaky and as if the only place I want to spend time is my bed.

The main stressor in my life is the work situation; courtesy of some recent changes, I’m working twice as hard (or at least 1.5 times as hard), but the net result is a paycheck that’s 50% smaller. I know this has probably caused some people to either decide to leave the company, or to buckle down and try to become a veritable factory of quality work, but I need stable income in order to pay my bills, never mind get the medical care I need. The logical alternative is to work harder and try to complete more articles per day, or look for additional projects to supplement my income, but my lack of stamina doesn’t just affect me physically. After 4-5 hours of solid, undisturbed work, I feel both physically and emotionally exhausted. It is the time in my life I can least afford to be ill, and yet I have little to say about the whole deal. On top of it, the company has now instituted a 24-hour turnaround on all assignments, and have made it clear they don’t intend to be too forgiving towards those who don’t meet deadlines. I suppose they look at it as if everyone’s replaceable, and nobody indispensable, which is largely true.

Yet, I’ve been doing my best to restructure my life to make myself stronger and keep up. I don’t really have the extra time and energy to seek out new assignments, or try to find a new job, so it’s mostly taking it one day at a time. It’s just a sad realisation that I won’t be able to make it working on a freelance basis with this pay cut. For over a year, I’ve made a nice income for a single person…more than I’d make working in an office, waiting tables, or giving people coffee at Starbucks. It’s even more than I’d make becoming a teacher or whatever else people with degrees in liberal arts subjects end up doing. But, that’s the income I need to make in order to improve my life…and it would have, significantly, had I not gotten seriously ill in 2011…and not half that sum. :( I don’t feel like I have a lot of options, and I feel a bit depressed about everything sometimes, which is far from productive. I just wonder why someone with as many talents, varied life experience, and unusual personality as I possess can’t figure out how to use any of those assets to get a stable career that I enjoy off the ground. Sometimes, I wonder if work just isn’t my thing; other aspects of life have always come easily to me. I was always smart enough to do well in school, personable enough to succeed in the social aspects of life, interesting enough to not have trouble meeting people to date or starting relationships, clever enough to formulate a nice place to live even when I had very little. When it comes to money, though, I have always struggled.

Herein lies the problem. I like money. I like shopping and martinis and nice restaurants and jewelry. And I am not lazy; if I knew what I needed to do to make the sort of money I need to comfortably engage in the type of lifestyle I’d like to have, I’d do it. I don’t want to be a millionaire, or part of the 1%, or even well-to-do. I just want to never have to worry about the practicalities of life, and still engage in the little frivolities that make my world a better place.

All the things that interest and intrigue me aren’t skills that translate to making money; the blogging habit I’ve had for 10 years, the book I’m working on (that nobody will ever read), the poetry I write, the parties I throw, the events I plan, even if I were to take up acting again. Nobody pays you just to be unique and creative and different and fabulous in that weird way that makes you stand out. It wins you friends and admirers, it makes you enemies, it throws adventures in your path, it makes life interesting…but it does not pay your bills, or your medical expenses.

For those who don’t know, in addition to recently being diagnosed with a vestibular disorder called vestibular neuronitis, I’ve also been diagnosed with panic disorder. Panic disorder sucks, and I don’t know why I’ve suffered with it for the past six months, but after reading the Wikipedia entry on it, it’s clear that I have it. I believe I developed it when I developed the vestibular neuronitis, following a severe sunburn and subsequent infection and dehydration from not taking care of myself wisely on the beach. I had a number of panic attacks over a period of two or three weeks before visiting the ER for help, and the ER, as well as a number of doctors who misdiagnosed my symptoms, put me on drugs with some terrible side effects. The result is that any time anything feels wrong with my body, I have a type of panic attack. It can range from mild enough that it’s gone within 30 seconds of changing my surroundings to needing to take an extra 2 milligrams of Valium to simply needing to leave and go home. (the last kind, the most severe kind, typically triggers a migraine. Within an hour or two of rest, Coca-Cola, and someone comforting me, I am typically better, although left very drained.).

The doctors have recommended that I see both a specialist for vestibular rehab and a psychiatrist who specialises in panic and anxiety disorders. I’ve been a little hesitant about doing these things, although I know I need to, because I know they may make me feel worse for awhile before things improve…and I simply don’t have the time to feel worse. I can’t afford to get fired because I was too busy freaking out to work.

I also would like to get off my current medications, the ones that cause me to resemble the Goodyear blimp and gain weight if I eat more than 800 calories a day. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, just want to switch you to whatever drug of choice they believe is most helpful. I have at least four types of commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medicines in my cabinet. They all made me feel like I’d rather discontinue existing than take that pill, which seems kind of contrary to the point.

They also told me about something called “cognitive behavioural therapy”, where I teach my brain to react in more positive ways. (obviously, nobody gets that my mind and body falling apart are reasons for my brain to feel less than positive, and for me to every day remind myself “What the hell happened to the charming and attractive person I used to be?”.) It’s basically “face the fear and do it anyway, unless you have a panic attack”.

So, I’ve been trying. I went out to dinner with a number of friends on Friday, and when I got there, immediately felt lightheaded and dizzy because we were seated on the highest possible level (seriously, in another room, we could stand on a chair and touch the roof. If it were a house, it would be really cute and I’d love it. ) There were also flickering lights, both of which seem to trigger vertigo and feelings of panic. I managed to ignore it, and even stood up for about 15 minutes to converse with people at the other end of the table. (standing up for too long often makes me want to fall down.) In the end, it ended up being a very good night, but it took a lot of discussion with my brain to get me to that point.

Today, I decided I was tired of being fat, when the scale hit the highest number I’ve ever seen in my life. My metabolism is slowing down to the point where I could not eat for days and not lose a pound (yet, I can’t do that, because the drugs I’m on make me light-headed and mess with my blood sugar if I don’t eat enough.), and I know/have heard of people on the drugs I’m on gaining 50-75 pounds. There is no way I’m letting that happen to my body. So, I decided to fight back and go for a 10 minute walk. It was exhausting, since one of my anxiety triggers is wide, open, overwhelming spaces. (I can’t set foot into Target without hyperventilating, which is apparently not uncommon for people with this inner ear disorder.)

I felt panic setting in twice, but I focused on telling my brain “NO, I’m going to walk for 10 minutes, period.”. Every other day, I’m going to add a minute to my walk, and slowly try to increase my endurance. This will, of course, not burn any calories, but at least it will get me outside again.

My well-intentioned roommate cooked tonight, making a chicken pot pie recipe he found on the low-glycemic recipe site I sent him. Little did I know, he “adapted” it, adding a ton of fat and calories and carbs. He really is a very good cook, and I applaud him learning to cook…but since he has, not only has he gained a noticeable amount of weight, his best friend is also starting to sport a bit of a belly. It could be that we’re all going through middle age, but I think it’s more of a “Don’t cook like Paula Deen” issue.

I may have to learn to cook healthy recipes, although I hate cooking, so I know I have control over what’s in what I’m eating. The problem: I really hate cooking.

I never knew that feeling and being healthy could be so difficult. I always took health so much for granted. I’d give absolutely anything to be able to rewind my life a year, and feel the way I did then. I would never take the ability to feel and look good, to seem “normal”, for granted again.

The only blessing that I have in my life is the supportive network of friends who seem to care and stick beside me, no matter what. I know they miss the person I used to be, too, but I’ve gotten an immense amount of support through things. The prideful, egoistic part of me simply wants to hide away from everyone until I’m better, rather than have people ridicule me for being fat or talk about how difficult I was the last time they saw me. I don’t want the world to see me when I’m unattractive, fragile, or just a downright unpleasant person.

But, another part of me is reminded that’s what friends are for, and nobody judges me as harshly as I do myself…except,of course, the people who hate me. They don’t cut me one bit of slack.

I just get sad sometimes because I know, deep inside, there’s this person who is so much better—on so many levels–than who I am now. And it confounds me that the person I am now, who is damaged in so many ways, could be loved, or liked, or even tolerated, by anyone else.

Yep, so now that I have your attention…. *laughs*

Today, The Guy I Am Currently Dating posted another article on his FB that got me all riled up. I’m not sure why the Huffington Post has this effect. It’s a liberal publication, and I of course, am as liberal as it gets.

This article happens to be about how it’s unfortunate that we live in a culture that enables prostitution, which is a crime, and that people are being killed and targeted because avenues of advertising for sex trade workers exist. This article seems to believe that by cracking down and attempting to eliminate prostitution, we’re saving lives, which is a valid point…until you remember they don’t call it The World’s Oldest Profession for nothing.

There, of course, is a viable alternative. The U.S. can simply legalize prostitution, and regulate those working in the sex trade by issuing licenses to do so. Countries and cities that ave done this require proof of age and citizenship, and sex trade workers are screened every 3 months for drugs and STDs. This won’t eliminate the problem of sex trafficking, underage prostitution, and people getting killed while meeting strangers for sex, but it empowers those working in that industry to become legitimate business people. Patrons will not feel safe visiting an undocumented, underage girl who posted something on the Internet when they have the option of visiting a licensed professional…unless they’re pedophiles, serial killers, and the like.

But this article is trying to combine a few different topics and say “If we crack down on prostitution, there will be less sex trafficking and rape and murder”. Not so. One of the main reasons prostitutes are targets for serial killers is because it’s way easier to kill someone who’s hanging out with you willingly. A charming serial killer would have the same success trolling the nightclubs in any major city.

The article even clarifies that the unfortunate victims of these crimes were not underage, not sex trafficking victims, they were simply prostitutes who were murdered. Therefore, in my mind, equating prostitution with sex trafficking with serial killers isn’t really logical.

Are prostitutes more likely to be killed than the average person? Yes and no. If you put yourself in a dangerous situation where you’re alone with a stranger, you’re more likely to get killed, period. If you’re involved in criminal activity…which, currently, prostitution is…you’re more likely to get killed simply because chances are, you encounter more criminals. When you add into the mix the fact that prostitutes advertising on Craigslist and Backpage are not the clean, Ivy League educated girls hanging out with the likes of Eliot Spitzer, a serial killer might assume many of these people have substance abuse problems, lack the legal knowledge to keep themselves from getting arrested, and aren’t coming with a driver and a security detail.

Sadly, these unfortunate crimes don’t just happen to prostitutes and homeless people and those in the drug business or the mob. They can happen if you’re jogging alone at night, or out walking your dog when no one else is around. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity. That’s why we’re all taught to minimize risk and opportunity.

Yes, it’s horrible when someone else takes away the ability for you to make personal choices regarding your body and your safety. Sex trafficking is one of the most horrible problems we have in America, and throughout the world, and the fact it happens as often as it does is appalling. Clearly, something needs to be done about it. However, that’s not what this article is about. Most sex trade workers are not trafficking victims being held against their will, and being held up as sacrificial lambs for slaughter. It’s not even what happened in the news story being addressed.

That being said, prostitution is illegal in this country, and you can’t participate in it, facilitate it, patronize it, or advertise it without committing a crime. That is, unless you don’t explicitly advertise any criminal activity. I can’t go on Craigslist and say “Hey, I have drugs at my house, come over if you want to buy some.”.(By the way, I don’t, so don’t come over.) That would be stupid. I’d be stupid to NOT expect whoever showed up not to be a cop or someone looking to rob/potentially kill me. If I were a reputable drug dealer, I would never do that. Same goes for all aspects of the sex trade. By legitimizing prostitution as an actual regulated industry, you’re giving the power to the people choosing to participate in it, and reducing crime and exploitation that inevitably happens when something is illegal. Serial killers will stop using Craigslist to find victims, because there will be fewer people putting themselves in dangerous situations.

A lot less women are dead or in jail now that having an abortion is no longer a felony or a form of Russian Roulette. Bringing things out into the open and giving people a choice reduces the secrecy and potential for harm that goes along with any world where everything is secret, because it’s a crime.

People use this exact same argument for why certain drugs should be legalized; it’s a freedom of choice issue, the government shouldn’t regulate our bodies and our personal business, if things are de-criminalized, gangs and mobs and the Cartels will have less power. Of course it’s not a foolproof plan, and of course there has to be some level of regulation, or the country will descend into total chaos and anarchy, because you can’t have millions of people running around doing whatever they want, whenever they want, if what they want to do harms other people. Unfortunately, here’s the problem: People are doing it anyway. The people who are wired to want to do harm to others don’t really care about the law, or the risk they’re running themselves. (it’s not unheard of for a prostitute being targeted to kill in self-defense.) People who commit these crimes are not deterred by such technicalities.

If what you’re doing does not harm other people (except, perhaps, for the wife or husband who might do you bodily harm or serve you with divorce papers when you get caught seeing a prostitute.), it shouldn’t be made a crime. Why? Because making it a crime doesn’t make it happen less often, especially when a properly written ad in a magazine or on the Internet is the difference between committing a felony and running a business. All it does is ensure that more criminals are attracted to the business of selling other people…usually women who feel they have no other options. By giving the women the power over their own bodies and the legal and medical knowledge necessary to help keep themselves safe, you’re raising the standard of life for a whole marginalised group of people in America.

Even the strippers of the U.S. are starting to unionise. A little personal power and freedom of choice goes a long way.

By the way, no disrespect intended to the author of the article inspiring this rant. Covenant House is a really worthy cause, and I believe a lot should be done to curtail sex trafficking and abuse of minors, who cannot legally give consent. But those things, which are criminal activities (kidnapping, rape, etc.), that cause harm to others, do not equate to the same scenario as an adult who willingly gives his/her consent and chooses to work as a prostitute. It’s like compiling a fruit basket, and blaming everything wrong with that fruit basket on the existence of apples. :P

Alayna’s Note: If you want to skip my personal rant about jeans and the acquisition of them, just read the article that inspired this story. It’s really funny, if you’re a woman who isn’t 110 pounds and hates shopping for jeans. :)

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you have heard this story or had this conversation with me before. So, before anyone calls me out on account of not being interesting and telling the same stories repeatedly, here’s your warning: This post isn’t for my lifelong friends and closest confidantes. It is purely for the amusement of everyone else.

Among the many questions people ask me about the things that make me weird and bizarre, or simply write about me in a derogatory fashion on their own blogs, is “Why don’t you wear jeans like a normal person?”. While the answer is clearly “I am not a normal person”, it’s a little more complicated than that. So, here are the reasons I don’t wear jeans on a regular basis.

1)Personal style. Everyone has one, and I think part of the art of dressing well and looking stylish is knowing where you fit on the spectrum. My fashion sense is a little glam, a little boho-chic, a little hippie, with the occasional Gothic-inspired thing thrown in there. I’m not a simple jeans and t-shirt kind of gal. And if I were, I’d spend a lot of time shopping for jeans. More about that later. I do actually wear jeans on occasion, but mostly, it’s just not how I express myself. I think the “Sex And The City” ladies would approve.

2)Jeans are not comfortable. Anyone who tells you they are says this because they have the perfect body built for jeans, without any excess anything anywhere, and never feel constrained by one of the world’s least flexible fabrics. The idea that jeans are casual, comfy, and a great alternative to dressing up is perpetuated by curve-free women who have not yet been introduced to PJs. If you don’t believe me, see how long it takes your wife or girlfriend to get into that $200 pair of skinny jeans (if you’re a guy), or take a 12-hour flight wearing them (if you’re a girl.) Jeans are not built for every shape and size, even the ones that say they are.

3)Body shape. If there were a living embodiment of the clothing designer’s worst nightmare, it would be me. I have an odd body shape in which every single part of my body is a different “traditional size”. I am petite (read: really short), curvy (read: J-Lo booty), and busty. (That one’s kind of self-explanatory.) I also have tiny shoulders, delicate wrists and ankles, and feet the size of the average 8-year-old. (and all this was true before I went and gained 23 pounds on (prescription) drugs, something that’s caused a whole new set of problems.) Shopping for jeans is a day-long event for me. I have never found a style or manufacturer of jeans that fit my body in a perfect, comfortable way. If I ever feel the need to invest in cosmetic surgery to redesign the shape of my body, I’ve probably been trying on jeans.

This, of course, leads to the story many of you have heard before, also known as “Why I Hate The Gap”.

So, as gleaned from the title, I hate The Gap. Not for the same reasons I hate, say, Banana Republic, but with the same level of passion that makes me cross sides of the mall to avoid it. Fortunately, these stores aren’t really reflective of my style, and you wouldn’t find me shopping there anyway.

About two or three years ago, I needed jeans. And if you’re a middle-class, average-looking white girl from the suburbs who doesn’t require anything special about jeans other than they fit and cost less than $50 a pair, you’re going to go to the Gap.

I spent 2 hours trying on jeans at the Gap. I tried on everything from a size 6 to a size 14, and nothing fit. Boot cut, classic, skinny, curvy,petite, regular…nothing fit me the right way. I emerged from the Gap almost in tears and in the early stages of an eating disorder. I thought I was a fairly normal person, yet, I learned I was way fatter than I thought. (again, this was 23 pounds ago, so you can imagine how completely I’ve given up on jeans by now.)

So, I walked around the mall, and ended up at Lane Bryant. I’d like to clarify that I, at the time, did not realise this was the store for “plus-sized women”. I just noticed the mannequins were curvy and thought they might have jeans that fit me. The woman at the entrance of the store asked if she could help me, in the way that happens at a club you don’t have the password to gain entrance to. I explained my dilemma with the jeans and the Gap, and she explained their store was for women who wore a size 14 or larger, and they wouldn’t have anything for me there, since I appeared to be about a size 8.

Fortunately, she was a very friendly and understanding African-American lady, and reassured me I was not fat, I just needed to stop shopping for “white girl jeans” (apparently, what you get at The Gap.) Through being denied entrance to Lane Bryant, I learned about Apple Bottom and Baby Phat, who seemed to have a better comprehension of hip bones being part of the female anatomy.

Another great find on the jeans front was, surprisingly enough, Old Navy. For a really long time, I hated Old Navy. If you know me, you know I hate stuff with a bright, kitschy aesthetic, and a world full of yellow, lime green, stripes, and orange fuzzy socks is not a place I want to be. Even their commercials made me not want to set foot in the store.

However, for a brief period of time, they put out a line of “curvy” jeans that actually did fit me perfectly. I learned that low-rise, flared-leg jeans were actually cute on me, were comfortable enough to live with, and I bought a whole pile of them. (then I went and got fatter, and now none of them fit. Sigh. I’m assuming that one day, I will be able to wear them again.) This restored my confidence in Old Navy so much that I amassed a closet full of t-shirts (note: size Medium really means size Large at Old Navy), hoodies, capris, and even some of those obnoxious sweater socks.

I am sad to report that Old Navy’s simple approach to finding jeans that fit you has gone by the wayside, and they’ve now given all their jeans “cute” names, leaving you totally perplexed as to what style and size of jeans you should wear. The easiest way to fix that is to Google the name of the jeans you bought at Old Navy two years ago, and see what they’re called now. This is why I buy 6 pairs of jeans when I find ones that fit me.

In my humble opinion, this is a lot of work and a lot of damaging your self-esteem for “casual wear” that’s not even that cute or comfortable. So, I don’t wear jeans. Maybe if I manage to lose 40 pounds, or they put out a line for retro-glam girls, we’ll talk about the shopping for jeans together…but somehow, I really doubt it. There gets to be an age where maybe jeans shouldn’t be the staple of your wardrobe, and I feel like I’m rapidly approaching that one. :P

I have a friend who looks cute in jeans no matter what. We can go to the swankiest club on Earth, and she’ll look just as glamourous in her jeans and cute shoes as I will in my far more high-maintenance choice for the evening. While I’m envious of her, I realise that she doesn’t get to pull off multi-coloured wigs, fishnet tights, and body glitter, so it’s a trade-off.

Meanwhile, when I’m at work or want to engage in comfort, it’s leggings and yoga pants for me. It’s not sophisticated, but hey, at least I’m not wearing a track suit.

I really enjoyed this blog today, entitled “A Letter To My Crush“.

I often write about the idea of infatuation, how all of the sudden, the presence of a certain person, thing, or idea can make the world a better place than it usually is. I think that’s because I grow bored without infatuation, the reason that I literally jumped up and down when The Guy I Am Currently Dating gave me the Kindle Fire he got me for my birthday. (and I was pretty excited about the awesome pink case we found to go with it, too. It now looks very much like an actual book.).

Also, I’m the person who will listen to a particular song over and over again for two weeks, watch every single episode of my favourite TV show multiple times, and spend hours each day conversing with the same person, even if that person happens to be in a different city, country, or continent. Infatuation is fun, exciting, and brings something new to life…at least until the novelty wears off.

Crushes, however, are dangerous. I haven’t always notoriously handled them that well, because they end one of three ways. 1)Your crush just isn’t into you. He or she may find you an awesome human being worthy of being friends with, or not even remember your name, but the end result is the same—that lame, pathetic feeling that comes from feeling happy to see someone’s face when they’re just not all that into you. 2)Your crush turns out not to be the person you created in your head. People are rarely like the ideal image of a person we barely know, so create in our heads, making said people even more interesting. In reality, your crush could be rude, a boring conversationalist, self-absorbed, or you could simply be so different that you end up fighting over everything. By that point, however, it’s harder to walk away and admit it isn’t working, because you’re already attached to the ideal you’ve created. Letting go of that ideal often feels like a great loss. 3)Your crush is receptive to your interest and you like each other. This may end up in going out a few times and realising you’re better off as friends, hooking up on occasion and feeling generally confused about life, starting a relationship, or, if you’re me, turning your life upside down because of the intuitive conviction that you’ve met your soulmate. (I’ve met my soulmate at least 12 times. It’s a good thing I don’t believe we’re all limited to one. :P ) While generally a happier outcome than the first two possibilities, it also requires a certain amount of accepting disillusionment. That person is NOT the person you’ve created in your head, and in order to allow the relationship to stand a chance, you need to rid yourself of that idealistic image to which you’ve grown attached.

I don’t really like crushes, and for that reason, most of mine have never been aware that they were, at one time or another, an object of interest in my universe. When I am interested in someone and I want to date them, or I’m attracted to someone in some way, I have no qualms about letting that person know and throwing the ball in their court. But, crushes, infatuations, diversions, whatever you want to call them…I enjoy keeping them that way. I enjoy the illusion of possibility I’ve created in my head, the ideal version of the ideal thing that will simply never exist in the real world. Throughout my many years writing poetry, I’ve had a continuing series called “Intrigue”, largely about crushes and infatuations, and in some cases, the disillusion that occurs when that ideal morphs into a real friendship, relationship…or not. The poem is never really about the relationship itself, but a musing on the quality that inspired the “intrigue” in the first place.

The author of the aforementioned blog and I share the same viewpoint when it comes to this topic. Sometimes, all a girl (or boy) may want out of life is someone to irrationally admire, idealise, and see as the most interesting person in the universe, even if the reality is that you have little in common, and that person is very little like the image you’ve created in your head.

The important thing is to enjoy the possibility of the ideal, without confusing it with reality. If you’ve spent months with a crush on someone who inevitably disappoints you, over and over again, simply for being a real person rather than the one you fell for in your imagination, it’s time to cut your losses. You will lose a friend or an acquaintance or a potential date, or you’ll have to start going to a new coffee shop or change your class schedule or abandon your favourite bar forever. (I still look for a former crush gone awry when reality didn’t live up to the romance of the moment every time I walk into the Cafe Intermezzo in Buckhead.)

Some things are way better when unexpressed and untainted by reality. I tend to think crushes and infatuations exist to remind us of our passionate, artistic, intellectual, interesting sides, to bring out all the aspects of our personalities that tend to stay hidden in the rather repetitive, uninspired, day-to-day world. If you’re an idealist, a romantic, a daydreamer, you always want the world to be a little more beautiful than it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it adds to life. It is responsible for movies, songs, poems, blogs, books, and all forms of artistic expression.

The best way to kill the benefits of the tendency to become infatuated with things is to bring it into everyday life. I am currently in a monogamous relationship, but for the many years I only engaged in open relationships, I met quite a few people who didn’t want to know, if I was seeing someone else, who the other person was. That’s very understandable, although I’m not the same way. Yet, the person who didn’t want to know who my other love interest was would obsess over figuring it out. Once, I said, very honestly, “If I talk to you about someone I’m friends with and like and admire, that’s not the person you should be concerned about.” I always approached my “other” relationships with a more idealistic eye; part of what drew me into the world of polyamoury was the ability to have a relationship built a little more on idealism and romance and beauty, and less on the everyday realities of what a long-term relationship actually entails.

Ironically, a few of those “other” relationships turned into friendships that occupy an important space in my life, while I’m no longer in touch with the person I was primarily dating at the time. I’m sure, however, had I pursued a monogamous and more emotionally demanding relationship with any of those people, that wouldn’t be the case. A little idealism, romance, and intrigue goes a long way…but it does not build a long-term, committed relationship.

You know the cute barista that works at Starbucks, the one you look forward to seeing every day? I recommend remembering this blog before asking her/him for a phone number, or planning a date. What you gain from looking forward to seeing that stranger each day is something far more beautiful and inspiring than what might come from taking the leap from silent crush to complicated reality.

Might I recommend buying a Kindle Fire? Or maybe playing pub trivia? :P