You may have noticed that I’ve been strangely MIA from this blog for awhile. There are a lot of reasons I could give, from trying to work out feelings and relationship issues with people in my life, to having work to do, to feeling absolutely uninspired to do anything because I am now permitted to watch 7 hours of TV each night, thanks to the simultaneous airing of the Olympics, Big Brother 14, and Showtime’s Big Brother After Dark.

The real reason is, however, that I simply have blogger’s block. It’s a condition similar to writer’s block, only it’s one where you realise you have nothing interesting to blog about because it’s been ages since something interesting happened to you. I find myself struggling to hold up my end of the conversation in talks with even my closest friends, and if you ask any of them, you’ll hear testimony about my innate ability to have 6-hour phone calls or sit at a bar talking until it closes down at 3 AM. Therefore, my sudden realisation that I have nothing to discuss really frightens me.

“OMG!!!! I have become old and boring! When did this happen? Do I still have friends? Will anyone ever be attracted to me ever again? HELP!!!”

Yeah, it goes something like that. You see, I’ve always relied on my sparkling wit, snarky conversational skills, flirtatious banter, and penchant for not shutting up to carry me far in life. I am very ill-equipped to be an introvert. I am even more ill-equipped to be an introvert with a blog.

This exile from life is largely self-imposed. I really do have work to be done, and I really do love the Olympics and Big Brother. I’ve also spent a lot of my free time working on promoting and completing my first book of poetry, Ophelia’s Wayward Muse, for which I’m fundraising on Kickstarter.

“OMG! Why was I so ambitious in thinking people would care about this? I only have 9 days left to raise $175, and people aren’t donating! Is it because my writing sucks? Is it because I don’t have any friends? WHYYYYY? HELP!!”

Yeah, it’s kind of something like that. (But seriously, if you read this blog on a regular basis, you should donate. It either means you’re my friend, or what I write doesn’t suck, and I need the validation…in the form of monetary donations. It will allow me to publish something offline for which I will request more validation. Please keep enabling me. It makes my day. ;P)

The summer is the main reason for my self-imposed exile. It was only a year ago that I was paying regular visits to doctors, hospitals, and emergency rooms, and preoccupied with the idea that I was not going to live to see 2012. Obviously, I am still here (which actually caused me to lose a bet with a friend. Yes, I have the kind of friends willing to bet on the likelihood of my impending death. I totally think that’s awesome.), although there’s about 25 pounds more of me. In a way, that’s a kind of, sort of death, when you can no longer fit into your favourite outfits because you need to take pills that make you fat, sleepy, and hungry. It turns out, the doctors disagree with me. They call this a “minor side effect” and tell me my “symptoms are responding well to medication”.

One thing they can’t treat, though, is the effect that last year’s heat exhaustion/sunburn/massive infection/dehydration/malnutrition episode had on the part of my body that regulates my temperature. I’ve always had a hard time with that, being the kind of person who felt perfectly comfortable in 110 degree heat until I suddenly passed out. If I get caught in the rain, I’m freezing, and need to take a hot shower, and then have an evening of flu-like symptoms. My hypothalamus and I have never been good friends. However, being sick has taken things to a new level.

Of course, summer in Atlanta means every day brings a balmy 93-degree day (which feels like 97 degrees.) Even when I venture out to air-conditioned places, I find myself feeling overheated and dizzy. Touching my arm will reveal you can fry an egg on it. I decimate ice cubes on contact. Summer and I used to get along very well, but we have officially broken up. I’m considering relocating to Seattle, or SoCal.

I should be thankful. This summer is not one of hospital visits, panic attacks, and unpleasant tests. Medical professionals seem to think I am getting better, even if I don’t always feel that way. “Taking it easy because it’s too hot outside for my body to handle” shouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Yet, it makes me feel like someone who isn’t me. I have no interesting stories to relate, no drama to entertain me, and no silly pictures for Facebook. I haven’t been to the eyebrow waxing lady in 6 weeks, and the results are sad. Living vicariously through those around me helps, but those around me have been either stressed-out, sick, or both lately, and I’d like to hide from that a bit.

Basically, I can’t wait until the fall arrives. I’m hoping to be well enough to travel, to go out with friends, and to get back to feeling like my old self again. In the meantime, I’m just making the most of my downtime. :)

Today, I’m going to take the time to address some questions that people have sent to me, or have come to my page looking for advice about, regarding medications and illness. If this doesn’t apply to you, just skip. :)

Because I’ve blogged about my medical journey pretty extensively, I get people who end up on this page looking for information on the drugs that have aided in my recovery, Atenolol (Tenormin) and Diazepam (Valium). I’m on Atenolol because since getting sick, I’ve developed an abnormally high pulse rate, and also suffer migraines with aura. (I have always had headaches. I just blamed them on sinus troubles and allergies, which I don’t have. Turns out, I have migraines. Fortunately, they are not as severe as some suffer from.) I’m on Valium because I suffer from a vestibular disorder that causes vertigo, light sensitivity, and migraines. These things also cause anxiety and panic attacks. I was also prescribed Klonopin to take during panic attacks. Since discovering that my panic attacks were related to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar is a side effect of beta-blockers) or an impending “migraine with aura” attack (which last about 20-30 minutes for me), I have learned to manage my symptoms without using the Klonopin…so, I’ve gone about 8 months without a severe, full-on panic attack where I had to be medicated.

For those who come here asking about Atenolol and Valium, and “do they work”, my personal experience is yes. They do. Valium isn’t a good drug for everyone; some people find it highly addictive and within a year, are increasing their doses outrageously. I’m on a relatively low “maintenance” dose of 7.5 mg a day, and only take an extra quarter tablet when symptoms of vertigo or panic arise. Other drugs, such as Xanax and Klonopin treat anxiety, but do not treat vertigo, migraines, or other neurological symptoms. I’ve had bad experiences taking these, and other treatments for vestibular disorder and migraine have had no effect on me. People ask if Valium makes you eat more, or causes you to lose your appetite. It actually does neither for me.

Atenolol is a different story. It’s a tough drug to acclimate to, and I know at least 3 people who needed to get off of it fairly quickly because of the side effects. A common question seems to center around Atenolol and weight, and whether what someone is experiencing is normal.

In my experience, unfortunately, yes. I gained a fifth of my body weight in a year while on Atenolol. Most of that was in the first 3 months of using it. It took that long to realise that the medication was screwing around with my blood sugar, causing me to be hungry all the time, and to eat food I wouldn’t normally eat. On top of it, Atenolol is designed to cut down your cardiac load, so your metabolism slows and you don’t burn calories. When you first start the medication, you’ll feel like sleeping 10 hours a night and your doctor will tell you no cardio. Once you adjust, you will be able to exercise again, and will likely be advised to eat a certain kind of diet, depending on why you went on the drug in the first place. (usually it’s a low-carb, low-salt diet for high blood pressure sufferers. My doctor recommended a low-glycemic diet for me, since I don’t have a history of blood pressure issues.) Some people continue to gain weight no matter what on Atenolol. I have a friend who gained over 70 pounds. This is true of many beta-blockers, alpha-blockers, and calcium-channel blockers. If you keep gaining after the first 8 weeks, see about switching medications. Do NOT abruptly stop taking your beta-blocker, replace it with an anxiety pill, or even decide to cut it in half. Withdrawals are not only hard on you, they can be life-threatening. I speak from personal experience. I didn’t like the weight issue, so stopped taking the Atenolol after 6 months of positive results from it. I actually noticed my blood pressure drop, so thought this was an awesome choice. 4 days later, I almost fell down the stairs because the world went fuzzy and black on me. You’d better believe I took the beta-blocker immediately. Not only was my blood sugar dangerously low from withdrawals, so was my blood pressure. If you decide to quit your beta-blocker, your doctor recommends what amounts to a 12-week slow detox.

After that episode, I decided to stick with the drug. I went from 10 migraines with aura a month and unpleasant panic attacks to 5, and then one month, I noticed I didn’t have any at all. I noticed that cutting calories and trying to be as “normal’ as possible put a halt to the weight gain. When I pig out on foods loaded with carbs and salt, the scale will go up 5 pounds overnight. You can’t do this. People on beta-blockers should aim for a low-carb, protein-rich diet, and eat 5 small meals a day to maintain blood sugar. I have caffeine sometimes. I have chocolate. But I have them in smaller amounts, and see no negative results. (Note: I have not been able to tolerate coffee or espresso since starting this medication. Heart palpitations resulted.) I no longer suffer from agoraphobia because I’m afraid of having a panic attack in public.

People ask me whether or not they should lower their calorie intake to 1000 or 800 calories because they’ve been put on this drug and can’t burn calories like they should. Your doctor will tell you no. However, I’m slightly under 5 feet tall, and my pre-medication caloric suggestion was only 1300 calories per day. So, yes, on days when I am basically on bed rest, I will cut my calories to 800. If you’re 5’10″ and 190 pounds, you won’t be able to get away with this. Also, I only take 25 mg per day of the drug. If you’re on a higher dosage, eating that little will endanger your health. Don’t do it.

It’s really hard to cut calories that dramatically, anyhow, because Atenolol makes you really hungry and messes with your blood sugar. Even if you only eat 800 calories, they need to be spaced out throughout the day.

It’s hard to lose weight on Atenolol, and although the literature tells you to expect to gain 5 pounds on a beta-blocker, the reality is that it’s significantly more for many, many people. It sucks. But side effects are the same from other heart medications, as well as depression, anxiety, and migraine treatments. Just know there are a ton of people out there who feel the same way you do. I Googled countless message boards about the subject, only to hear the same stories, over and over again. These pills make you fatter. But for many, they also give you back a reasonable quality of life, and prevent life-endangering consequences. You may not have to be on the beta-blocker forever, and when you’re free of it, you can cardio to your heart’s content. (literally!)

I hope that answers some of the questions that have come my way! Please keep in mind, I’m not a doctor, and if you have issues with your medication, you need to talk to yours. Get a second, or third, opinion if necessary. I’m just a girl who has decided to relate her personal struggle with a sudden onset, chronic illness with the world. Each person is going to have a different experience.

I will say that, although I’m not always happy with my body or my lack of energy, the treatment I’ve received has resulted in a slow but steady improvement of my symptoms. I have a great support network of friends, people who love me no matter how big my hips get, and being very straightforward about my illness means people tend to understand when something goes wrong. I’m pretty lucky. But I don’t have the energy and the stamina for getting out in the world I once did. This is frustrating to me, often. I want to be better and healthy NOW, before I’m too old to enjoy life. I have to remind myself that sometimes, there’s a part of your life where it’s necessary to be a turtle. Some days are slow. Some days, you hide in your shell. But, eventually, you get there. :)

“It’s all very well to say, “You fool, it’s now or never,”;
I could be choosing no choices whatsoever.”

—-“Someone Else’s Story”, from ““Chess”

People do come here often looking for advice on love, sex, and relationships, but seriously, anyone thinking about it should stop. The only advice I have is to look at what I’m currently doing, and do the opposite.

Over the weekend, I had a terrible fight with the Guy I Am Currently Dating. I’m not even sure what started the storm; all I know is that I was commiserating with someone at a party about how badly/aggressively credit card companies treat you, and the next thing I know, he’s refusing to speak to me during the 20 minute drive home. Once home, he made passive-aggressive comments until I told him flat out that I’m tired of being treated in that way. If someone is treating me like crap, I don’t have to accept it, and I deserve to know why.

He denied treating me like crap, which seemed a pretty oblivious assertion to make when someone is yelling at you and crying and closing their door to keep you out. He still refused to communicate with me, instead choosing the passive-aggressive, snarky comment road. That road isn’t how I communicate. It isn’t a road I can accept traveling on in the course of my relationships. When I have a problem with someone, I tell them. I also tell them why. I don’t just treat them like crap until they feel hurt enough to either cry or yell back. After doing both, I told him I didn’t want our relationship to continue.

For those of you who don’t know me, I didn’t grow up in the most stable home situation. My main goal in life was to be involved in as many things as possible that kept me away from home, because it was characterized by a family full of people with volatile tempers who would use any opportunity, any vulnerability to tear one another down. It taught me not to trust, because trust would always be used against you. It taught me to never ask for help or be open about problems, because it would always be used against you later.

It’s fair to say The Guy I Am Currently Dating didn’t grow up in the most stable environment either. I can’t make that judgment, but based on the fact that his mother has threatened my life and/or to call the cops on me if I didn’t leave her son alone, leave the city, and go back to my white trash Yankee family on numerous occasions, I’m going to say there’s a lack of stability and normal communication dynamics going on there.

What I took away from my family environment is that trusting people will always screw you over, because loving someone gives them permission to hurt you more than they might otherwise. The more invested you are, the more you’re setting yourself up to be torn apart when someone wants to hurt you or abandon you, and inevitably, they will. It taught me never to be dependent upon another person, because as soon as you are, they will throw it in your face whenever necessary.

These lessons are not false. When my ex-roommate decided nobody mattered but him, the first thing he did was to throw me under the bus and leave me in a situation where I would have been out on the street without help…twice. And when The Guy I Am Currently Dating was treating me in a way I deem unacceptable, and I told him I didn’t want to continue in our relationship, he said “Fine. Where are you going to live?”, because he’s the one who signed the lease for me.

Personally, I’d rather live on the street than accept this endless parade of people throwing my lack of self-sufficiency in my face. It’s like a constant reminder that you owe someone something, even if that something is being treated in a way that feels incredibly lonely and emotionally abusive.

After hours of arguing, The Guy I Am Currently Dating told me that I didn’t care about him, that I was the reason our relationship was never moving forward, that I was selfish and a liar, and plenty of other fun stuff. When I asked him in what way he considered me to be a liar, he revealed the whole fight was about the fact he didn’t know I’d committed the cardinal sin of having credit card debt I wasn’t paying off.

First of all, we’re not married, so my debt is not his. It doesn’t affect his life one bit. We don’t live together. I don’t see a future where either of these things are a possibility. He’s offended by the fact that I apparently am the one who doesn’t want our relationship to move forward, but the thing is, he already has a life. He has a house in the suburbs, a place I’d be extremely dependent on others to get around and even further from other friends, and where my health would not allow me to walk the amount necessary to get around. I also hate the suburbs. I’ve been out here for two years, and constantly miss the city. In many ways, I hate Atlanta, and don’t see myself living here for the rest of my life. But he was born and raised here, and in the four years we’ve known each other, we’ve never even gone away and traveled for a romantic weekend. For some reason, he’ll travel for events that have a purpose, but not just for the adventure of getting away and going somewhere new with someone you like. That’s kind of a deal-breaker for me.

On top of it, he’s strongly tied to his mother, who considers him her “baby boy” and her whole entire world. She’s done everything but physically assault me in an attempt to get rid of me, and I wouldn’t put it past her, just so she could file assault charges when I fought back. She’s never going to let go, let him out of the little world the two of them have created, and I’m certainly never going to become a part of that. So, even if we had the perfect relationship, there’s really no future. And that isn’t my choice. The fact that I sometimes keep an emotional distance is my problem, but it’s largely related to the fact that I know that the more I care about someone, the more painful it will be when we have to go our separate ways.

I do care, but I can’t just spend years and years of my life waiting for the relationship I want, when it’s not going to happen. I can’t sacrifice my independence, my openness to other relationships and opportunities, for something that has no positive resolution for me. I will never fit into his world, and unless he’s willing to leave it behind for me, we don’t really have a future, regardless of everything else in our relationship.

And the everything else doesn’t necessarily fit, either. We don’t always have a terrible amount in common, or enjoy the same things. We don’t have that magical thing that some people have where talking for hours is simple. We don’t communicate on an emotional or intellectual level all that easily, because the way we think and do things is so opposite of the other person. We have volatile arguments…this is far from the first…that doesn’t help my struggle with anxiety.

He has apologised to me, told me he has problems communicating, told me he was hurt by the idea of me not wanting to be together anymore…and it isn’t that I don’t care. I do. But there are essential things missing in our relationship that matter to me, and I think if I packed up my stuff and moved tomorrow, he wouldn’t follow me. He loves me and misses me, but he wouldn’t give up the life he’s designed for himself for a future with me, and I understand that. It’s just that I think the right person for me…if there is in fact such a thing…would. The right person wouldn’t expect me to want anything to do with a family member who inflicts verbal and emotional abuse on a regular basis, much less accept it as part of the package deal. The truth is, I don’t see a future…so if the present is so stressful, is it really best to keep hanging on to something that just isn’t right?

You can love someone, and find out it’s not right. The 50% divorce ratio in this country attests to that. Because, as the old 80′s song tells you, sometimes love just ain’t enough.

I’m not the type to want to be controlled, to answer to anyone, to be put down or subjected to conflict as a normal part of a relationship. I’m not the type to feel happy being with someone and realising I share more with other people in my life than I do with them. I’m not happy knowing we don’t communicate, think, and feel on the same wavelength, that we don’t share the same interests, the same vision for the future. Maybe the age difference is a part of it. But I think it’s more that our personalities and interests and communication styles are so fundamentally different, a level of conflict is inevitable. I’m all for working through conflict, but when it occurs regularly and is hurtful, it becomes obvious it isn’t the basis for a lifelong partnership.

For four years, I’ve been waiting for answers about “How does this all play out?”, and I’ve never gotten them. I’ve never gotten a willingness for him to leave behind his mother and his work and the comfort and security of home to get in a car or on the bus and go somewhere new. When I do, I have a great time, but I always have to go by myself. I share my memorable life experiences with someone other than the person I’m supposed to be the closest to…and something about that feels wrong. It’s more than obvious there’s no place for me in his world, and I need someone open to building a new world…possibly in a new place…together. Alone. No parents. We’re grown-ups now, and I don’t need a controlling influence in my life, which is why I communicate with my family twice a month and see them twice a year. Do I feel sad about that? No. Because there’s never a single visit that isn’t characterized by so much conflict that I want to change my plans and leave early.

I won’t accept that from my family, and I won’t put myself in a position to accept that from anyone else’s family members, either. But when it comes down to it, I’m with someone who isn’t going to break away and put me first, and after a few years of waiting around to see if and when things change, I realise you can’t change people. It has to be his choice. His choice seems to be, “I love you, but…”

And maybe that’s just how it is. But he can’t blame me for needing to do what’s right for me, and wondering if there’s a relationship for me where it’s all a little easier, where we’re emotionally and intellectually in sync, where we have a good time together more than arguing over how we see life or manage our personal situations, where there is a future that doesn’t involve anyone else, any level of practical or emotional unavailability…well, it seems natural that I would do that. I’ve spent so many years of my life in the wrong relationships, I’m not sure there is a right one for me. Maybe I’m not “relationship material”, and that’s why there are countless people in this world who truly love me and are attracted to me and want me around whenever possible, but they don’t want a relationship with me. And I get that, as much as I get that I know what I need in my relationships, and what I just can’t overlook.

I don’t know what to do. I feel so sad, so lost, so hurt. But I don’t want to be controlled, have to answer to another person about my choices all the time, feel a sense of dependency. I don’t equate that with love, but with losing myself. I don’t want to wait around for a life that isn’t possible because someone loves me, but wants a relationship on their terms, that fits into their life…and while they won’t make those huge changes for me, they think it’s fair for me to remain in stasis, wondering if I’ll ever be “the right person”.

I’ve spent four years with someone, and I don’t like the way we get along, I don’t feel like we communicate in a way that makes me feel understood or special, and I don’t like the fact that we only see each other three days a week, and one of them inevitably involves a fight. I don’t see a future, and that’s not a choice I am making…it’s how I feel about what’s been thrown my way.

I don’t want anyone to be hurt. But I have to be more than a spectator in my own life, more than dependent on someone else who wants to give me everything, but can’t accept that I won’t see the world and make decisions the way he would in return….and doesn’t understand that four years of not even being willing to travel outside of Atlanta with me makes a huge statement about how I do and do not fit into his life.

I am not happy, and this relationship is far from the only thing that needs to be completely reworked. But there comes a time when you just can’t stop feeling, “I love you, but I’m not happy, and you’re obviously not, either. Don’t we deserve to be?”

I do know one thing for sure. I’d rather live my life alone forever than have people in my life who want me to feel badly about myself, and use conflict to tear me down. I can’t keep popping extra Valium just to cope with the fights so I can go to sleep without wanting to run, or feel like my world is caving in. I am not happy, and I am not healthy, and I don’t know how to get there. I’m with a nice guy, but somehow, I’m turning him into someone who isn’t really a nice guy. I’m with someone who reminds me how well they treat me, and that’s usually true, but does it make up for the times when it’s not? Does it make up for everything that’s just not there in how we interact?

So, don’t come to me for relationship advice. I’ve had more of them than anyone I’ve ever known, and apparently, still know nothing about myself or other people. :(

One of the most popular pages on this blog, and one of the most frequent search terms that unsuspectingly lands people here is “Fifty Shades Of Grey”. A while back, I wrote an article about my hesitance to read these novels, and since I’ve now heard enough feedback from the rest of the world, I can state with some certainty that I will never do so.

However, I’ve learned some valuable lessons due to the popularity of this book that have helped me to grow as a more enlightened individual, and to become a better writer.

* I was more sexually aware at 18 than this author is in her mid-40′s. I understand you want the world to believe this story is being told by a sweet and innocent virgin who is submissive, lacking self-esteem, and likely suffers from an eating disorder. (don’t emphasize the frail and helpless nature of a female character, her petite frame and inability to fight back in any situation, and name her “Ana” if you don’t want the world to know about your former anorexia issues. Also, the weird thing with the guy forcing her to eat while still wanting her tiny and breakable is a dead giveaway that the author of these books needs a healthier relationship with both food and sex.) However, nobody has been that sexually unaware in college since the 1900′s. Kids are having color-coded-bracelet sex parties at 14 these days. Initiation to certain sororities has been known to involve sleeping with a guy your big sisters pick out for you. What world are these characters living in?

*I don’t care how much of an abusive asshole you are, you’re not an experienced dominant at 26. Reviews of this book point out that the male character is awesomely good looking, great in bed, and a skilled dominant in and out of the bedroom. Snippets of the book I’ve read point to the fact that he might actually be a sociopathic control freak who’s kind of making it up as he goes along, and has a poor naive girl who confuses that with the world of BDSM. I’m kind of expecting book three to be a horror story where the guy stalks and murders her. If I met this guy when I was in my early 20′s, I’d have known enough to call the police.

*I can write a book that will be a NY Times best-seller In fact, anyone can. One dimensional characters, boring sex scenes, and lack of female empowerment appeals to women…which says something about women and our society. If you want to write a book that’s even BETTER than this one, buy a thesaurus.

For all the complaining that the media hates women, and politicians hate women, and men hate women, and women are being sent back to the 1950′s more and more with each passing day, here’s the truth: women are the ones who hate women, because they largely dislike themselves. The proof is that both this saga and its tamer, teen counterpart, “The Twilight Saga feature helpless, weak-willed female characters who have low self-esteem and will literally die if the guy that’s made them feel special disappears/hurts their feelings/rejects them. Both are best-selling series that are largely written by women, and read by women.

(Oh, and a side note: all those “evil” magazines that show pictures of size 2 models and promote negative body image to sell products? About 85% of them have female editors-in-chief. Yet Hugh Hefner is the one that somehow disrespects women with his publication?)

So, who’s sending out the fucked-up messages to women of today?

Oh, right. Other women. When you think about it, it makes sense. How many girls/women of any age do you know that genuinely like and support other girls/women in a positive, non-passive-agressive/frenemy kind of way?

However, if you don’t agree with my assessment of “Fifty Shades Of Grey”, based on the fact that I refuse to spend my time and money reading bad soft-core porn with glorified psychological abuse and rape scenes that are dismissed as “misunderstandings” and “No usually means yes when a guy has a big penis”, you should read a very well-written review from someone who did read the books. It’s not only accurate, but entertaining.

And, yes, she wants her time, her money, and her dignity back.

P.S. She also wrote equally entertaining reviews of the second and third novels. Spoiler alert: At the end, Edward turns them all into vampires.

Over the weekend, I sent a friend of mine a care package—as I so often do— this one containing a movie that’s special to me. In the course of conversation, I mentioned the film “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”, a movie I hadn’t seen in years. I shared that it was slightly ironic that many years later, people who were important to me at the point in my life during which I highly identified with that movie still felt a strong attachment to me when they watched the movie, or couldn’t deal with watching the movie at all.

It’s a little sad, but since it goes along with the premise of the film, that relationships touch our lives and create memories that are worth holding on to no matter what happens in the end, it’s also somehow appropriate.

Tonight, I decided to watch it, because I couldn’t really remember what it was that touched me so deeply about that movie. It’s a good movie, but it always affected me on a very personal level, and when I thought about it, I couldn’t remember why. I’m sure I saw a lot of resemblances between myself during those years, and the main female character in the film: a very unfocused, reckless, impulsive person who couldn’t stand two things in life: being bored, and not being loved. I’m sure I empathized with how painful it could be to be in a relationship with someone who hurt you and made you feel rejected just for being you, because opposites don’t always attract. Or, opposites sometimes do attract, and then leave one another completely shattered.

While watching the movie, I was reminded of someone I dated at the time. Our relationship was very complicated, very emotionally draining, and in some ways, very toxic. I always felt like being with him was being with someone who’d dismissed the possibility of me being “the right kind of person for him” the moment we met, which is not a kind of judgment I buy into. It just isn’t how I see relationships. If people knew instantly who or what was right for them, we’d have many more examples of positive relationships in the United States today. I’m incredibly intuitive, and I’m the first to admit, I don’t know right away. It takes me some time to “see how things develop”. Sometimes, things develop out of situations I never would have seen coming. Other times, things that make logical and emotional sense and seem perfect on paper just never happen. I don’t know; chalk it up to timing, destiny, whatever.

I am intuitively wary of people who claim they know who or what is right for them based on preconceptions; they’re usually wrong, they’re usually in the process of finding themselves—or closed off to possibilities that don’t fit into how they imagine life working out, which is usually exactly how life works out—, but getting too attached to anyone who judges a relationship before it even has a chance to develop is masochistic. Some people are open to the unexpected, to “you never know what life brings your way”. Other people will do their best to force life and relationships and opportunities into a certain mold, and end up spending year after year looking for the thing they think they want, while ignoring so much of what’s passed through their lives. (yes, I know more than one person who fits into this category. Most of them, unsurprisingly, are still single many years after I happened to pass through their lives.)

Anyhow, this ex of mine was one of those people who knew I wasn’t right for him, and yet, remained in my life in one aspect or another for a very long time. As it turned out, he wasn’t right for me, and I wasn’t right for him, and we didn’t really connect deeply on any level. We could never really bond on that emotional level you need in a relationship where someone just “gets” you, and when it did end, the next person in my life was someone with whom I shared that very naturally. Yet, something kept us together, or coming back to each other, and I don’t think I’ll ever really get it.

One day, I found an e-mail under his bed, one he’d written to me but never sent. I don’t remember what all it said; it was basically a rant about all the reasons he shouldn’t be with me. One of them that stuck with me, though, was reading “How can I take a grown woman seriously who puts butterfly clips in her hair and wears glitter everywhere? How could anyone take someone like that seriously, much less think about marrying her or having a future?”

It was one of the most hurtful things I’d ever encountered in a relationship; finding out the truth about how someone who claimed to love me really felt about me. I don’t really think I ever got over that. It was something else that made me less secure in myself, knowing that even those closest to me were incapable of accepting me and loving me as I am. And, yet, I knew he wasn’t the only one who felt that way. There were at least three people in my life at that time who claimed to have feelings for me, wanted to be involved with me, fell for me on some level, yet ended up with more “sensible” and “practical” partners.

Today, I know that if I have a right person, that person will love glitter and butterflies and my quirky fashion sense and not judge other aspects of my personality, especially my intellect or capability to take life “seriously”, on the fact that I like the parts of me that are winsome, childlike, and want to enjoy the world. People aren’t exactly one dimensional. I never traded in my butterflies and flowers for a business suit, and I don’t think I’ll intend to. I sleep with a stuffed animal every night, and don’t particularly care who thinks I’m far too old for such nonsense. I’ve learned to take being judged less personally, because I know it isn’t about me, it’s what you get when you mess with someone’s conception of how you should be.

In any case, this is not a tangent, but rather, what allows me to experience this extremely personal connection with “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”. Being hurt and betrayed and judged, and going through the hell of severing an intensely personal connection with another person, even if you knew it wouldn’t last forever—well, that’s just part of the human experience. When I think of people who were once central to my life and are now less so, usually romantic relationships that didn’t work out, I don’t have a single person I’d like to erase. I have memories I wish never happened, things that a decade later, still hurt beyond belief and make me realise someone can never again be a part of my world, no matter how deeply I loved them (or perhaps because of it.) Yet, there’s nothing I would erase, or take back, or given the option to never cross paths with someone again, that I’d make that choice.

I know there are people out there in the world who’d probably like to erase me, and have likely done so, as much as possible. But I always hope there are one or two memories that haven’t been deleted, that come back every now and then.

I think that’s why I sob through three-quarters of that movie, and tonight was no exception. I can’t think of anything worse than being forgotten. I think that’s why I take so many pictures, keep so many journal entries…so that one day, if I’m old and all my memories aren’t there anymore, they are still alive somewhere.

I’m strange, I know. I feel too much, too often, too intensely…or not at all, not in the right way, or not in a way that makes sense. But, I have the sort of heart from which nothing is ever deleted. Once you occupy space, you’re kind of there for a lifetime…even if we never speak another word to one another again, even if our paths never happen to cross, even if we don’t particularly care to see one another.

Love is one of those strange emotions that may not always actively exist between you and another person, but the moments when it did can’t be erased. I hope other people feel the same way. I hope the pieces of myself I’ve given to others over the years somehow mean a little too much to be deleted.

I don’t think I’ll watch that movie again for another few years. It still hits me really hard, on a really personal level.

I don’t have much of interest to write about these days, and I blame reality TV. In particular, the excitement of Big Brother premiering on Thursday, and managing to get me sucked into the drama much more quickly than usual. Despite the absence of Rachel Reilly, I’m entertained to see another of my all-time favourite players, Janelle Pierzina, return as one of the “mentors” (who are essentially experienced team captains.) The other “mentors” wouldn’t have been my first choices: Britney from Season 12, who makes short people look annoying and mean; Mike “Boogie” from Season 2, who seems to have no problem with the fact that everyone in the house knows him as “that douchebag guy who isn’t Dr. Will”; and Dan, the religious football coach who won season 10, but is so unmemorable that I had to look him up to remember who he was, and I still don’t recall a single thing about his season.

Of course, all the “mentors” they’ve picked are people who seem to have settled down and started lives out of the spotlight of reality TV, are married, have kids, or both. This makes for pretty limited drama in the house, since there are 4 people who are married, two who are gay (but of the opposite sex), and two who barely seem old enough to hold hands in the hammock. I think the producers really wanted no “showmances” this season.

As I remarked to The Guy I Am Currently Dating (yes, he watches some reality TV, too…one of the few entertainment-related things we have in common.), it would have been a more interesting choice to put some of the more difficult/controversial characters on the show as “mentors”, and watch the general instability erupt. I wonder why, instead, they took in in the other direction.They seem to have created an environment that seems almost too peaceful and lacking in drama and impending emotional meltdowns.

They’ve also completely given up on the idea of casting random, average people unaffiliated with the world of reality TV, as one of the new contestants is an L.A. blonde who’s made appearances on The Girls Next Door, and the related Playboy reality TV spinoffs, and another is the brother of Russell Hantz from Survivor. Apparently, he intended to keep this a secret, but it’s really not a smart move when you look exactly like a guy who’s been infamous for being a huge asshole on TV for three years, and come from the same state. It’s impossible when you have returning CBS reality show members who have been around long enough to know Russell Hantz. At this point, CBS needs to give that family their own show. It can’t be any worse than the Kardashians, and well, plenty of people are still watching that.

Despite the fact that Big Brother just isn’t quite what it used to be, it still has a way of sucking you into their all-absorbing lives (which, in reality, are not more interesting than whatever you’re doing at that moment), and making you watch the late night feed on Showtime just because you wonder what’s happening. Usually, the answer is nothing, but it doesn’t matter. There are a lot of people with insomnia and a voyeuristic need for drama, and we’re still going to stay up and watch.

One of the interesting things about the Showtime After Dark version of Big Brother is you get to see endless promos for other Showtime shows. Most of them, I’m never going to watch, like Dexter and The Real L Word, but I’m a Weeds fan, and don’t mind being reminded to watch it on Sundays. Also, there’s a new show premiering called “Polyamory: Married And Dating”. While I haven’t seen the show yet, and it only seems to be focused on married couples pursuing lifestyles involving non-monogamy, I kind of applaud them for showing the various types of relationships out there, and how they do and do not work. One storyline focuses on a triad (a married couple with a shared partner), another on a couple that is in an open marriage (but each has separate partners), another on a couple with a guy who is exerting pressure on his spouse to share partners, and a group that lives together in Big Love commune style, with everyone forming a giant extended family.

(Note:This t-shirt is pretty funny. And, yes, you can buy it, if you are so inclined. It’s on sale here.)

Unfortunately, Showtime will probably turn the show into a largely sex-and-drama fueled reality show (much like The Real L Word has done for lesbians) to get viewers, rather than showing examples of the positive and negative aspects of polyamory, and bring awareness of all types of non-monogamous partnerships in the process, but it’s an interesting idea.

I’m pretty convinced that Showtime’s master plan is to turn any alternative lifestyle choice into either a reality show or a black comedy, one taboo subject at a time. Serial killers, drug dealers, weird folks from California, the guy who played Joey on “Friends”, single lesbians, poly couples, and “Big Brother” make for a pretty interesting line-up, which is why I ditched HBO, but kept Showtime! *laughs*

Work has had a tremendous slowdown, and while I should be using the time to be happy about chilling out a little more and having time to work on my own creative projects, I’ve found myself feeling kind of tired and a little bummed. I don’t know if it’s lack of direction and having a concrete task on which to focus each day—I know there are plenty of things, both productive and relaxing, to do with my free time—or it’s just me feeling a little worn out physically. (This is my first summer following the scary and disastrous heatstroke and associated problems of last summer, and it hasn’t been the easiest. Some days are great, and others very challenging. Migraine, vertigo, and heat intolerance seem to be the main issues with which I still struggle.) It could also be that Mercury retrograde is back today, and that always wants to throw everything in life…especially my sense of emotional stability and “life is fun/everything’s going to be OK” out of whack.

On the up side, I’m almost 1/6th of the way towards reaching my goal towards funding my very first book project, Ophelia’s Wayward Muse. I only have 25 days left and it seems like kind of a long way to go, so if you’re the kind of friend who likes me enough to buy me a drink when we get together, consider donating to this project instead! :) You can make a donation of any shape and size (well, maybe not octagonal) through my project’s Kickstarter link. With all the people I know, there’s no way I shouldn’t be able to reach my goal! ;) Thank you to the friends and readers that have supported me thus guys are awesome!!:)

It seems like the weekend has very much gotten away from me…but it’s Sunday, which means time for relaxation and reality television!! I wish weekends were, in fact, just a little longer…*laughs*

For friends and blog readers who may care, I’ve been working on finally getting a compilation of my poetic efforts ready for publication. The book is entitled “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse”, and is a project that’s existed in one form or another for 10 years or so. It’s finally at a point where I have a “finished” and typed manuscript, and am ready to begin pursuing the publication process.

Since doing so is relatively expensive, especially for a girl whose life has started overflowing with bills over the past year (for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s cheaper to die than to recover, should you find yourself seriously ill. I think our medical system could use some serious revision.), I’ve decided to look into alternative methods of funding. Kickstarter is a great site to raise money for artistic projects. With the number of people I know, it seems to me that just having friends, acquaintances, and loyal readers of this blog donate a few extra dollars here and there is enough to help me accomplish this rather modest fundraising goal.

So, in order to fund my “crossing this off the bucket list” endeavour, I’ve set up a project to support the publication of Ophelia’s Wayward Muse. If you want to help me see this happen, please consider donating a few dollars to the project. In fact, if you’ve ever enjoyed my blogs, my e-mails, or my snarky, entertaining Facebook correspondence, it’s a great way to encourage me to keep on writing and being productive. Of course, if you have reason to believe there’s a poem about you in this anthology, you should definitely show some love. :P *laughs*

I’m intending on the publication of my first poetic collection to be a fabulous way to celebrate the end of 2012 (which also happens to include my birthday!), and of course, there will be a huge party to celebrate when all is said and done. I have 30 days to raise the necessary cash for this project, and it’s an all-or-nothing deal…if I don’t reach my goal, your payment is not processed and nothing is ever sent my way. :(

A separate page has been established on this site for Ophelia’s Wayward Muse, which currently includes a sample poem from the book, acknowledgements in the form of thanks to those who have donated, and will keep interested parties updated on the progress of the publication. Please share with your artistic and literary-inclined friends, as not only do I want to raise money for this project, but also interest and support!

Please help me to build a home for wayward words! :)

For those of you who know me “in real life”, you know that I have a terrible habit of launching into a long and seemingly amusing story, only to have a minor detail completely derail my train of thought halfway through, leading me to then tell another story entirely. People who aren’t exactly enamoured of my personal social style find this one of my more annoying traits, as it can be seen as a little self-centred and monopolises conversation. People who consider themselves friends and are generally amused by my blog-length anecdotes wonder why they hear stories that never have a conclusion.

I have a number of friends who are like myself, and tend to think and communicate in a largely tangential fashion. In one-on-one interactions, this works out well. It may take two hours and five other topics of conversation, but we eventually come full circle, and I remember to punctuate my original story with the courtesy of an ending. In social situations where people don’t really want to invest more than 15 minutes in listening to you, it’s less successful.

This blog suffers from the same dilemma. In mid-June, I took a trip to North Carolina, and broke down the discussion of my adventures into three or four potential blog topics. After writing two of them, people started sending me other ideas for blog topics…and, well, weeks later, my story about my random travels was never completed.

Last month, I put up two blogs about a visit to an old-yet-new friend in the Durham area, and exploring the smaller side of the Triangle, as I’d only really ever spent time in Raleigh on previous visits to the area. I also spent time discussing the complexities of friendship, and how spending time with someone in that person’s world is one of the best ways to gain a very real, honest, non-idealised sense of who another person is and how they live.

After leaving Durham, I stopped to visit a few other people in Charlotte, North Carolina. The experience was quite different, because while my visit to Durham was largely about spending a lot of one-on-one time with someone I’d been getting to know well and exploring a new city, Charlotte was about being more of an extrovert and taking the time to discover a place I’d passed through many times before. I happen to have a number of friends and acquaintances in Charlotte; not only is it a vibrant city in the South, somehow, performing artists and touring companies always seem to end up with extended tours in Charlotte. In fact, I almost ended up there for a month or so myself, before deciding I’d rather not. *laughs*

However, while I’ve passed through the city on bus and plane layovers, met up with a friend for dinner or lunch before heading onward, I never had occasion to spend any time there. Charlotte is a large city that’s rapidly grown due to the banking and business industries, and in so many ways, is what I call Atlanta Light. The city is structured in the same way; without a car, it’s tough to get around, it can take 45 minutes to drive through the Metro area, there’s a very corporate vibe to it— excepting for small little enclaves where “alternative, artsy types” frequent and a surprisingly impressive live music scene—and like Atlanta, the tallest building is courtesy of Bank Of America.

I happened to stay with a friend who is a fellow artist and Burner, and he had a house located about 15 minutes from Downtown Charlotte. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is possibly one of the coolest houses I’ve ever had the good fortune to stay in, because it’s exactly my style—quirky, modern, with a few touches here and there that express the love of eras gone by that were a bit more aesthetically focused. I have an ex, who is an architect, and he would have been endlessly fascinated by this house. The more impressive thing is how many personal touches were reflected in the space, as my friend designed much of it himself.

To its credit, a lot of architecture in Charlotte is focused on angles, which I love. It’s a very modern city that still has plenty of trees and trolleys, but is genuinely interesting to look at (and photograph). In my opinion, it’s a much prettier city than Atlanta, and the downtown area is far more pedestrian-friendly. Then again, they have far fewer people to manage.

My friend’s house was no exception, with lots of nooks and angular corners, including a spiral staircase leading up to the second floor, which is a loft. The main area of the second floor is open, while the part that isn’t visible is well-suited for a guest bedroom (including a library/window seat), and a well-designed guest bathroom. It was a mix of old and new, with the art on the walls being romantic and ornate and the space perfect for creative endeavours. Yet, the downstairs had lighting everywhere that clubs would envy, from being able to dim the lights and change it to any colour while turning on faux-candles installed in the wall, to adding bright red/purple/blue floor lighting that announced it was time to party. On top of it all, my friend is more well-traveled than I am, and completed the decor with chairs from Japan, a table from Peru, and feng-shui touches everywhere. I was just a little tiny bit impressed. Being in the suburbs, the property even had two lakes, complete with ducks and geese.

I joked around with my friend from Durham that it was a good thing that I wasn’t staying with him when I was in town, as I suspect we have a lot of incompatibilities regarding how we live and how we’d co-exist in one space. Opposite personalities tend to have that problem. However, I’ve now come to realise just how adaptable I can be (one of the few positive traits I’ll take credit for), because it was a little bit of a shock to learn the friend who offered his hospitality was a raw food vegan. Even mixing a vodka cranberry was an adventure, as the cranberry juice was 100% cranberry, and had to be hand-mixed with sugar and lime juice, and was still quite tart. It’s a good thing I’m a fairly good bartender. *laughs* There’s incompatibility, and then there’s incompatibility..and someone who doesn’t eat anything I’d consider tasty enough to be edible, and is essentially a hipster who showed up at a swanky bar in a t-shirt and shorts, might be seen as an incompatible friend for me. Yet, we still had a great time. :) I think I mostly enjoy the company of anyone who is open-minded, interesting, and doesn’t roll his or her eyes at me as if to say “I’m judging you because you’re really weird.” :P

Being me, I wouldn’t spend time in a new city without meeting up with people at various establishments for food and drinks and entertainment. One of my favourite places was a little coffee shop called Amelie’s, a quirky French-inspired place where even the mosaic tables are hand-made, and the atmosphere leaves Atlanta’s charming Cafe Intermezzo looking downright boring and corporate. I visited both the original, and the smaller downtown location, and would love if Amelie’s would consider expanding to Atlanta. I think they’d find a welcome home here.

Even in the middle of sightseeing and eating eclairs, cupcakes, soul food, and everything else that would give my doctors a heart attack, I managed to set up a business-oriented meeting. I had dinner and drinks at a lovely establishment called Blue, where I had the opportunity to meet with the organizer of the largest Meetup in Charlotte, and discuss how we might work together in the future. While I wasn’t necessarily so impressed with the lack of chivalry inherent in him leaving me at the bar alone to hang out with friends, I try to remember that every member of the male gender I encounter is not required to be instantly infatuated with my company. Yet, I must admit, part of me resents it when I find myself in one of those situations. Although not all, or even many, connections with people in one-on-one outings are of a romantic environment, I do pride myself on being charming, and keeping people entertained. I’m a little more used to people blowing off other plans to spend more time with me than initially intended than I am being left in a bar…but, you know, what can you do. *laughs*

This was, in my opinion, rather indicative of the attitude of Charlotte as a city. If I’ve been repeatedly charmed by the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area and how friendly the residents are, and how easy I’ve found it to meet and strike up conversations with strangers, Charlotte was quite the opposite. As I’ve said, Atlanta Light. There’s an air of unapproachability, and while I met a few interesting people, on the whole, strangers were indifferent to my presence in their world. I’ve come to realise there’s a huge difference between cities dominated by business and corporate entities, and those dominated by the presence of academic institutions and research facilities, regardless of the size of the city. I seem to enjoy spending time in the latter far more than the former, which has always been my beef with Atlanta. We have enough people and things to do to have a balance between the two, but in the end, this place is not liberal enough, not intellectually inquisitive enough, not creative enough for my tastes. I’ve recently met people from small towns in the South who can’t believe this assessment, who look at Atlanta like it’s New York City. But if you’re from New York City, you look at it like Los Angeles Light, and may not feel quite as enamoured.

Anyhow, after checking out Blue, which has friendly staff and live jazz music (yay!) and made me very tasty drinks and a margherita pizza that didn’t survive long, I had to find something else to do with my evening. Fortunately, another friend was able to catch up with me, and I had the opportunity to check out three different Charlotte-area bars, before we ended up at a gay karaoke place called Petra’s. There, I finally found the liberal, exuberant atmosphere I was seeking. I met a number of people who were professional and semi-professional musical theatre performers, which was cool. The drinks were delicious, and the vibe was one that was very welcoming to everyone…regardless of what you look like, your sexual orientation, age, race, or relationship status, you simply felt welcome. It was a great note on which to conclude my trip (literally), although it did leave me boarding the bus to ATL with a major hangover the next day.

Much like I felt about spending time in Durham, I think a return trip to Charlotte is necessary at some point, because I get the sense there’s a whole other side to the city I didn’t have the opportunity to see. Charlotte is very much about soulful food, soulful music, and food and drinks hand-crafted with love. I’d love to spend the evening at a jazz club, and take the carriage tour of the city. Apparently, these are things one can only do on the weekend, however.

As you may have read in part one of my exploits, my random outing almost didn’t happen because the Chinatown buses were shut down the week of my trip. While Greyhound wasn’t terrible, they’re perfectly awful if you need to change buses in Richmond…as you inevitably do if you’re going between the North and the South. I was absolutely thrilled to hear from a friend that MegaBus (which I’d take to D.C. and Philly often when I lived in the NYC) is now in Atlanta, and will take me from Atlanta to Charlotte to Durham for less than $20 round trip. If I’m looking to go to the Northeast, getting myself to Washington D.C. or Richmond means I then have access to NYC or Philly or Boston in just a few hours. There are even trips to Savannah, New Orleans, Nashville, and other Southern cities I’d love to explore, for a fraction of what you’d pay on Greyhound. Since I am not allowed to fly, and can only manage travel for about 7-8 hours at a time (I’m still not strong enough for the 15 hours to NYC without a stop for sleep.), this is exciting news for me. It’s also uber-cheap, so if I’m heading somewhere to visit a friend who is amenable to me sleeping on their couch, it makes travel a way more accessible undertaking.

I’m thinking about a trip to NYC in October, and stopping in Charlotte, Durham, and Washington D.C. along the way. I know the chances of all my friends being in town and available to visit with me at the same time are small, and I may end up having less energy than I imagine I will…but if I can physically deal with it, it’s a good opportunity to review MegaBus and see if it’s worth it for trips longer than 3 hours.

I wish I knew more people who were like me, and just wanted to go off on a random adventure for a weekend. Then again, perhaps I’m just a very independent traveler who prefers it that way; I’m not really sure. I do know, though, that I like feeling as if my world isn’t confined to the Metro Atlanta area. :)

It’s almost that time of year again…the one where I become far more introverted and way less interesting, because I’ve become absorbed in the all-encompassing drama that is Big Brother.

For those of you who don’t know me, or don’t know me well, I love reality television. It’s not because I’m a dramatic person by nature (which I am), or because interpersonal drama and psychological insights into others interest me (they do….I probably should have been a psychologist.), or because it’s over-the-top fun (it is.) I actually didn’t get into reality TV when the rest of my generation was loving the Real World.

Reality TV only became real to me because of Big Brother, and because I had the fun and once-in-a-lifetime experience of going through the audition process for Season 1 of the show. (I’m showing my age, since they’re on season 14, but had I been cast, I’d have undoubtedly been the youngest person on the season, so I’m not that ancient yet. ;p) I made it to the very end of the process, which gave me an interesting insight into what goes into putting together a reality TV show, and gave me an appreciation for the genre. A cross between scripted drama, soap operas, game shows, and having cameras turned on your everyday life, it takes a certain kind of personality for reality TV. There’s also a lot of psychology that goes on in casting a reality show (most of them seem to believe in the Meyers-Briggs/Keirsey inventories in determining how people might interact); if you inadvertently pick the wrong person, the entire season can become boring and lifeless. (at least three seasons of “Survivor” have suffered this problem). If the cast gets along too well, if there’s never chemistry between people, animosity between people, the show isn’t something anyone cares about.

The “right” person isn’t always the loudest, the best looking, the smartest, or the most personable…though, undoubtedly, they try to get one of each. It’s no coincidence that many shows begin with 16 people, corresponding to the 16 Meyers-Briggs types. The trick is to get the most interesting person of each type, and to create diversity, especially when the show is centred around interpersonal dynamics.

Along the way, they’ve expanded casts of most popular shows to as many as 20 and as few as 12, but 14-16 seems to be the magic number. It’s a trick I’ve taken away for planning successful dinner parties. *laughs*

I never did re-audition for the show, or any other reality show, after going through the process. Part of it is that I felt like I was far too sensitive for the level of public scrutiny and judgment that goes along with even one day on reality TV. I have friends and acquaintances who have been on reality television shows, and one in particular had a very rough time of it in life after being portrayed in a way that emphasized one aspect of her personality, in order to paint her in a certain light. It is show business, after all—but people forget that, and when the show was over, she wasn’t met with love or treated kindly. Part of it is that I simply realised I’m not all that interesting. *laughs* I wonder if there will come a time when I put myself out there again, just for fun, now that I’m older, wiser, and still every bit the drama queen. :;

What did come out of the experience is a great love for Big Brother, even if it is the trashiest of the CBS reality franchises. (The main reason I wasn’t cast for the show was the charm and likeability of a fellow actress and Playa attendee named Brittany Petros, and I still wanted her to win! *laughs*) I watch every season, and yeah, I’m totally into all the drama and nonsense. Even the boring stuff is somehow entertaining, in a weird way. I have conversations with friends about the show as if I’m discussing people I know. It keeps me from gossiping about my real friends. :P *lol*

Although I never re-auditioned for the show, I felt like an overdramatized version of me did, and made a huge impact upon the world of reality TV. If you took everything about me and turned it up a few notches, you’d have something kind of similar to Rachel Reilly, the glittery and flamboyant redhead who cries at everything, but has an impressively competitive spirit and determination to give haters the proverbial finger. I really like Rachel, although I don’t know her, I don’t know anyone who knows her, and the only interaction I’ve had with her has been of the virtual variety. I think, in real life, she’s a person I’d enjoy….albeit perhaps in limited doses.

As most of you know, I spent most of last summer being seriously ill…too ill to leave the house, or even the bed, for a significant chunk of it. I couldn’t have much of a social life, and felt too vulnerable to face other people. In between, there were trips to the emergency room, scary drugs, terrible side effects, and a lot of time spent wondering–because even specialists didn’t seem to know what was wrong with me— if I was going to make it through the summer. It really was one day at a time for me, and even that was hard.

There were a few things that got me through that time in my life, but as weird as it sounds, Big Brother was one of them. I remember being in the hospital one week when the show was on, and saying, “I think if Rachel doesn’t get voted off this week, when it seemed certain she would, it’s a sign I’m going to be OK.” No logic behind that at all, except I somehow identified with this person who was putting herself out there on reality TV every day, and being judged quite harshly…a cross that’s tough to bear for an insecure person. I know what that’s like, and how perplexing it is when it turns out that “just be yourself” doesn’t equate to everyone liking you.

Of course, the summer ended, and I survived…and slowly recovered. And Rachel Reilly went on to win half a million dollars, despite being ridiculed by pretty much everyone, often including her fiance.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, of course, it’s because the new season of Big Brother is airing beginning next Thursday, and if the media day footage and other rumours are to be believed, one of the cast members was dropped at the last minute to make room for three returning duos.

I’m actually pretty excited at the prospect of another season of Rachel and Brendan, and potentially Evel Dick and Daniele. Certain personalities just make shows more interesting, and for me, it’s always the people other people find less than endearing, annoying, or downright villainous. Maybe it’s just because it’s been my experience in life that these are my people—misunderstood, intimidating to others, and full of emotion and insecurity.

So, maybe I’ll never decide I should attempt to be on reality TV, or become a public figure in any capacity—I have far too many skeletons in the closet and people who’d be too happy to talk to the tabloids about me :P —-but I’m going to keep on cheering for Rachel, and hoping CBS continues to use her in their franchises. Someone’s got to represent the temperamental redheads of the world, and show that we may be loud and crazy and hard to keep under control, but it doesn’t matter one bit. The world doesn’t need to love you, after all, for you to succeed at whatever it is you do. It just needs to pay attention.

This year, BB14 will have to share my attention with the Olympics, which also start in a few weeks…but that’s another story for another time. I hope The Guy I’m Currently Dating is up for more nights in with me, the remote, and some Moe’s. *lol*

Fortunately, I have a DVR. :P

I started writing this blog a few days ago, before my internet crashed. I now have internet and TV back in my life, YAY! However, there will be no obligatory 4th of July post. I hope all my American readers had a lovely one!:)

From time to time, I get questions from readers of this blog—something that is often shocking to me, because I tend to only assume that unless you’re a close friend who is somehow invested in my world, there’s little here to interest you. In fact, the tagline on some of the pages from Jaded Elegance, v.2, read “Unless you’re terribly bored or hopelessly in love with me, stop reading and do something more interesting.”

Fortunately for me, either there are a lot of bored people on the internet, or I have a way with admirers. :P My warning wasn’t heeded.

One of the most common things people write to me is that they’re seeking advice regarding crushes. You’d think this is confined to being a 14 year-old girl problem, but it’s not. I get notes from women who are part of my generation asking about secret office romances, and those in their 40′s who are newly single and ready to get back out on the dating scene. Men of the world, I’ve come to one giant conclusion: for all the time you spend thinking about sex, relationships, dating, flirting, and attractive people, you’re remarkably oblivious to those around you. There are a lot of women walking around this world with secret crushes, and while perhaps many are subtle enough to never let you know about it, I’m sure that some are dropping hints here and there.

I’ll be honest. For a girl who built a blog around the concept of always being infatuated with one thing or person or another, and is working on a book of poetry based on 11 years worth of “intrigues”, I’m not terribly good with crushes. It isn’t that I don’t have them, it’s more that I don’t have that genetic female predisposition to keep the information to myself for prolonged periods of time.

In high school, I was an accomplished flirt who secretly enjoyed seeing the faux-machismo of teenaged boys disappear when you put them on the spot or made them feel uncomfortable. I was never the sweet, innocent, easily offended type. I learned to counter sexual harassment with equally overt sexual harassment, as if to say, “See how you like it”. *laughs* As both they and I became more experienced in the ways of the world, I learned to combine my tendency to flirt with witty banter. Somewhere along the way, witty banter gave way to a remarkable capacity to be very straightforward, in a way that prospective partners either find genuinely appealing or quite off-putting. I have to confess, it amuses me a little when I leave someone a little speechless or make them turn various shades of red. I’m the most harmless person out there, truly. It shocks me that people don’t always see me in that way.

However, the point is, I’m terrible at crushes because I’m too damned straightforward to be charming. This is why men don’t woo me, don’t show up at my door with flowers, don’t move heaven and earth to get my attention. I don’t play the game properly. After feeling confused about whether or not my crush might like me, or if not, why not; after suffering through a few weeks or months of mixed signals and flirtation may mean something, but may not, I just come out and ask. Sometimes, it’s a calculated decision, in the form of a heart-to-heart conversation. Other times, it’s a drunk text that says, effectively, “Hey, you idiot…have you not noticed I like you, and why aren’t you doing anything about that?”

I would love to be a more subtle, charming person. I would love to be that person who engages people with a mixture of inaccessibility and little coy looks here and there. I would love to be the girl who waits three years for her crush to notice her, and have the world’s greatest love story ensue. I sometimes think that men would take me far more seriously if I behaved with the demure subtlety women are supposed to possess in these matters. But I am impatient, and I don’t really hide emotions well. I don’t see the point in playing games, and life is too short not to tell people how you feel about them…especially if the way you feel is that someone else is an awesome person. At the very worst, you’ve made the day of someone who isn’t interested in you by expressing your admiration, and you can get over it over a cosmo and some reality TV. At the very best, you’ve saved you and another person years of waiting for one another to make a move, express a feeling, or wonder “What if?” in a more out-loud fashion.

If there’s one positive thing to be said about me, it’s that people always know where they stand with me, and if they don’t, all they need to do is ask. It’s surprising to me how many people are reticent to ask about things they spend time wondering about. If I really want to know, I lose sleep trying to keep it inside. *laughs*

I think I rather gave up on crushes when I was a teenager, and saw how they never got me anything except a lot of emotional angst. I think, the first time someone I liked asked someone else out instead of me, and I cried over it, only to have the guy later tell me, “I had no idea you were interested, and it seemed like she was.”, that crushes seemed like a cute, romanticised, idealistic idea, but weren’t going to get you anywhere with the object of your affection.

I have intrigues and infatuations, and most of them are short-lived. They hang around long enough for me to write a poem, to learn the hard way that someone wasn’t who I’d imagined them to be, and my idealistic heart is devastated for a week or two, until the next intrigue or infatuation comes along. If it’s been a few months or a few years, and I still have feelings for someone, I likely will have brought it up. Sometimes it’s in the form of asking “Why haven’t you ever been interested in me?”. Sometimes it’s “I know you’re in a relationship, and nothing can happen between us, but I’m sure it’s obvious I like you”. Other times, it’s “Why don’t you pay attention to me? Everyone pays attention to me.” More than one of my long-term relationships has started with this sort of straightforward, brutal honesty.

I’d love to be the person who has crushes, who has people who secretly have crushes on her. Alas, I am too direct not to let my crushes know and remove the mystery, and too intuitive not to know when someone in my life is attracted to me or has feelings for me.

When girls—and women—write to me for advice on their crushes, my advice is always this: life is short, and a broken heart doesn’t stick around forever, but the chance you didn’t take will haunt you for a lifetime. Express how you feel, in a way that feels comfortable to you. Both men and women are equally flattered by attention and admiration, so why keep it a closely guarded secret? There’s a certain romantic allure to the the crush that took years to get off the ground and eventually ended up in a wedding, but in real life, it doesn’t usually work out that way. People don’t stay unattached forever. Many times, your crush ends up with someone else not because he never noticed you, but because he never noticed you noticing him. Not everyone is particularly intuitive or emotionally observant.

If your crush is someone who is simply unattainable for one reason or another, take it for what it’s worth. It’s possible to be intrigued by people you don’t even know, as well as by people with whom you can never possibly share a romantic connection. But, if that person inspires you in some way, use it to be inspired. Whether it leads to that added little boost that comes from harmless flirting around the water cooler, a crazy night that wasn’t supposed to happen but leaves you singing annoyingly happy songs for days, or an actual date that makes you feel 15 again, crushes have potential. And if they don’t, because someone is unavailable or disinterested or the stars just don’t align, they can still brighten up the routine, the mundane, and make you feel a little more alive and engaged in the world.

Don’t be afraid to express your admiration, even via harmless flirtation. Being inspired and being admired make everyone feel just a little better, as long as you’re not the creepy stalker type. You have to know when you’re pushing too hard, when you’re no longer amusing, but a little weird. Don’t be that person.

I had someone tonight tell me that one of the things they really like about me is my brutal honesty. I observed that, running a social group–and having a lot of hobbies, interests, friends, and a personal life aside—I met an awful lot of people each year, and it was impossible for me to remember each person’s name. I half-jokingly pointed out that because I was never going to be genuine friends with 98% of the people I met each year, I don’t learn anyone’s name until I’ve seen them around three times and have reason to believe they’re likely to be a part of my world. Of course, this “brutal honesty” was interpreted in the most humourous way possible, with people poking fun at my lack of social delicacy, but it’s true. Someone I used to know used to say he only had so many spaces in his “friend book”, and from time to time, was not accepting applications.

It made me genuinely wish to be friends, however, with the person who remarked upon liking my brutal honesty. That is the kind of person with whom I inevitably interact with very well. And, ideally, it is how all my “secret crushes” work.(although, to clarify, the individual straightforward enough to comment upon my straightforwardness is not a crush, nor does that person have a crush on me. I realise that could have been read in a confusing manner.) I don’t always seek out new intrigues or have room for a fascination with another person in my life, because I may already feel my life is either rather content and busy as it is, or because it’s already way too complicated. When I *am* intrigued by someone, I don’t really want to wait three years to find out they were equally intrigued. I like flirting and romance and coy little games, but I guess I just like straightforward communication better…even about situations that are less than straightforward, or one dimensional.

It isn’t that hard to say, “I kind of really think you’re an awesome person”. In fact, more people should say that sort of thing to one another, whether it’s accompanied by a secret crush or physical attraction or complex friendship, or it’s someone you’ve literally just met and find cool.

That’s always my advice, for what it’s worth…but I’d love one day for one of my readers to write me back with advice on how to have a crush/intrigue/infatuation I keep to myself for all eternity. There’s something about that ideal that appeals to my incurably old-fashioned, romantic side. Sadly, too little of me is as old-fashioned or demure as I’d like to be. :P

Yesterday, I went with The Guy I Am Currently Dating to see the sold-out Coldplay show at Philips Arena here in Atlanta. Even though yesterday wasn’t the best day in the world, and I wasn’t feeling all that positively about the present and future state of our relationship (nor was I feeling positively towards the idea of relationships in general), I wasn’t about to let emotional chaos ruin my trip out to see my favourite band. Nor was I going to let the fact that it was in the 100′s again yesterday, and I am a sick person who should avoid heat and crowds who wanted to go to a place that held a never-ending sea of people in a venue that could have used double the air conditioning keep me from using the tickets I purchased in December.

For those who don’t know me, or my situation, it’s important to mention that I developed an illness last year that turned out to be a vestibular disorder. Not all vestibular disorders are the same, but many people who suffer from them have similar challenges. Bright lights, loud noises, generalized anxiety, and panic attacks in crowds or wide open spaces (agoraphobia) are all common issues. Almost all people suffer from intense vertigo, dizziness, or lightheadedness. My situation is exacerbated by the fact that my illness developed as the result of a mild heatstroke and severe sunburn. As a result, my body no longer regulates its temperature well. I have to be very, very careful about environments that are too hot or too cold. The past week of 100+ temperatures have been really hard on me, physically and emotionally. It certainly wasn’t the best week to brave a concert at one of the most wide open, crowded places I could think of. However, nobody knows that in December, when they’re buying concert tickets. In fact, last December, I wasn’t even sure I’d be alive in July for the concert. It was like an incentive: “If I spend $200 on concert tickets to see my favourite band, I have to be around, and be well enough to go.” I figured that if I did die, someone I knew in Atlanta would go for me. :)

I have steadily improved in certain ways over the past year, and though I can’t yet go in Wal-Mart or Target without falling apart, I’ve been able to attend parties, social events, and even loud concerts with flashing lights, in smaller venues. I’ve been able to get on a bus and travel, and though I didn’t make it to New York yet, I realised I could make it halfway without too much of an issue. I really, really thought I could handle Coldplay. I was wrong.

I have seen Coldplay in concert 5 times before—this is my 6th concert, if you can count it as actually being at the concert. Although one of my favourites, they are typically a mellow, low-key show, one reason I thought I might be able to handle it. So, I was a bit confused when I got to the door, and they handed out wristbands with a little box attached, like one of the security tags they put on merchandise at the mall so you don’t steal anything. In addition, everything was in green and pink “flower power” motif, and the opening act was Robyn, who I found to be a very odd opening act for Coldplay. Robyn had a few hit songs in the 80′s, none big enough to really be remembered, and somehow launched a comeback in 2010 or 2011. She is a dance artist who sounds like a less talented version of Cyndi Lauper, but the disco, flower-power thing seemed to fit her perfectly.

We arrived a little late, and by the time we parked, got through the line, found one another, got beverages and French Fries, put in earplugs, and were ready to find our seats, Robyn was already in full effect. I was shocked when I got through the curtain to our section and was overwhelmed by strobe lights and neon screens and lights everywhere. The Guy I Am Currently Dating tried to get us to our seats, but it took an awfully long time, and I had to run back up and out of the room to safety. I can’t be around bright lights or moving lights, and the combination of the two is intense. Even before I got ill, I was advised to avoid strobe lights, because epilepsy runs in my family.

When we got out of the auditorium, The Guy I Am Currently Dating told me that *he* was experiencing vertigo trying to navigate to our seats. Since I think someone should pay *me* to see a Robyn concert, we decided to stake out a corner of the hallway that was largely ignored and sweat it out until Coldplay took the stage.

When they finally did, we made it to our seats, and I was very overwhelmed and more than a little dizzy because of the wide open space and the seemingly endless sea of people. However, thanks to adding a vodka cranberry to the extra quarter of Valium I’d taken to try to handle the event, I felt like I’d be able to cope. It was the worst possible environment for me, but I was going to cope, and enjoy seeing the band, and everything was going to be fine.

Then, I realised what the wristbands were for.

When Coldplay took the stage, a mixture of loud noise, strobe lights, lasers, and spinning lights accompanied them. Then, all at once, 50,000 people had wristbands that started flashing in time with the music. There was literally nowhere to hide, and it was like being swallowed up by a giant blinking Christmas tree. Even with my eyes closed, I could see the blinking and the spinning, and it very much resembled the ENG they performed on me to diagnose my inner ear disorder.

I thought it would be a gimmick that they did for one song, so I stuck it out. Plus, I felt too dizzy to make it up the stairs and towards the exit. Unfortunately, they kept going on with it, so that there was a sea of endless, blinking, multi-coloured lights at all times.

I’m not sure how I got out of there. It’s like adrenaline carried me, because I don’t really remember leaving my seat and making it to the top of the stairs, where I could hear the band but not see as much. However, by that time, the damage had been done.

If you’ve ever been on a rollercoaster, you know what I’m talking about. Your legs are like jelly, your head spins, and you need to find the nearest trashcan and hold on to it for dear life in case your stomach is as wobbly as the rest of you. That is what happens to my brain when overstimulated by light, noise, and air pressure. Clearly, there was no way I could watch the Coldplay concert. It was hard enough to stand.

So, we sat in the hallway of Philips Arena, garnering disapproving glances from the occasional person who stared at us, wordlessly saying “You’re not supposed to be sitting on the floor. It’s against the rules.” (It probably was.) But, if we couldn’t see Coldplay, we’d at least listen to them, even if it was way too damn hot in that building.

Honestly, I have to say, I felt a little betrayed by Coldplay. My favourite band hurt me in the most dramatic way possible, and without warning. (There are plenty of people with epilepsy and other neurological disorders that can’t tolerate those types of lighting effects. Any Broadway show will come with a warning about special effects before you buy your tickets. It’s just plain irresponsible that concerts do not. They did have a sign saying “Theatrical haze will be used during the show”, yet no mention of strobe/laser/blinky lights.) When I pointed this out to someone working at Philips Arena, they mentioned it was up to the artist to post warnings about that, not the venue.

So, I do have to blame Coldplay for the horrible experience I had last night. Had I known, I could have given my tickets (which were not bad seats at all) to someone who might have enjoyed the show. I sent a text to a friend of mine (who doesn’t always appreciate my texts, and may or may not have responded with eye rolling) that said “Coldplay is letting me know they’re just not that into me. After 12 years, that’s pretty harsh.”

Really, it is. On top of it, I don’t know if I consider them my favourite band anymore. I love their first few albums, but the last two have left me with maybe 5 songs I like between them. The Guy I Am Currently Dating commented on the weird mix of people who were in attendance, and it’s true. The average Coldplay fan is my age, someone who appreciated them in the early 2000′s when they were awesome, and is likely to be between 25 and 40 years old. Then, of course, there were a ton of trendy-looking white high school kids who think Robyn is cool, and many kids about 7 or 8, obviously dragged by their parents to listen to music old people like.

I don’t know if I relate to or appreciate the “new” sound Coldplay has been marketing to try to stay hip and current. For a band that started as an “alternative” sound, and then managed to cross over, they’re just trying a little too hard…and I’m not the only one who thinks that, because they haven’t exactly been topping the charts with their efforts since 2006, save for “Viva La Vida” and “Paradise”.

What I do know is that it’s going to be another year before I make it to Philips Arena. I obviously am not nearly well enough for that nonsense, especially in July.