Flaws

…was just a label. dreams are just that. promises were meant to be tweaked.

you said the flaws were what you loved most.

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
—Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club 

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How To Get Over Someone You Love

The day I met the ex I never got over, I wasn’t paying attention.

It was before I did sales at the gym and consistently sold memberships in my tiny white tennis skirt—without ever having never played even an hour of tennis in my life. It was prior to me saving the aforementioned Gym as “Queen of Member Retention,” and before I moved up the ladder of corpor-Hate America. Sorry, I have trouble saying that word. And before I became anything that I happen to be (on some days) proud of today, it was before I became who I am.

I worked the front desk.

Yes. I did. I made $9.75 an hour (which was good for back then) and I worked the desk greeting folks that came in and out. I fiddled with pens and post it notes, I daydreamed. In the midst of it all a man in all his carefree bliss, came in once, sometimes twice a day, and my job (or the game I played) was to remember the members by name before they swiped their key card and our POS system showed us who they were.

Every time I saw him approaching, I lost most of my nerve. He was toffee nougat-colored, which was different than my prior ex who was mixed black and white—Chiquita colored. He was different. I date blue, red, purple, beige, doesn’t matter long as he treats me right, but I generally find myself drawn to complexions my color or much lighter—smooth skin, big ridiculous smiles, and boldly-bordering-cocky personalities. But he was a shade darker than I was, and he wore basketball shorts and a wife-beater tank top. Wha? You have your preferences, I have mine.

It wasn’t just the confidence, I can tell you all with a straight face that his walk had a lot to do with it. I could pick this man out from more than fifty feet away by the way he walked. I can also tell you with a straight face that I’m still in love with that walk today. In all kinds of love. This has nothing to do with the rest of him. But this guy, daily, would walk in, smile, wink, or say hello, and for at least three weeks this went on without any further conversation. If my heart weren’t beating so fast, I’d have sworn I died. Each time.

I got frustrated with it all soon enough and figured I’d avoid the awkward. So when I saw him approaching I took off to the loo. Why stay and be tortured? He wasn’t interested, he wasn’t asking me out, he was just flashing his Colgates at me and moving on for his workout. When I returned there was a single pink flower and my name spelled—incorrectly, and a stick figure picture of him (apparently looking for me) with a question mark.

I was blinking my eyes so hard my co-worker had to cover me at the front— folks were walkin’ in all willy nilly not swiping their key cards. I was staring at the paper so long my co-worker was like–

“Lanii, it ain’t in 3-D”

I was what back then I would’ve said was called “trippen’,” and then I didn’t see him again for two, maybe three days. When he came in again, there was another note, something about him missing my face and him having the flu, with a cute little sick stick figure. He waved me goodbye that day and I might have creamed. Can girls cream instantaneously like that?

Nevermind, don’t answer.

Over the next few weeks, more smiling, more flirting, even struck up a good forty minute conversation in which my sweet boss (James at the time)—overlooked because he saw me glow like a worm in the best dirt-bliss ever.

Then one day I snapped.

I couldn’t take it. He sees me, leaves notes if he doesn’t see me. Has great conversation. But he doesn’t ask me out, doesn’t ask for my number, doesn’t offer his. He just, doesn’t. I can’t like any man too much that “doesn’t.” There was no ring on his finger so what was it? I had to know. I asked what the heck was going on and played it off with more laughs. I nearly screwed the whole thing up by accidentally telling him he ‘reminded me of my “almost step-dad,”‘ which was pretty much a party-foul, but I’m notorious for messing things up when I like someone.

I’ll stop there because a lot of this story may go in my memoir, but he didn’t call right away. It was like he forgot me in the slush pile, then came back to me last. It ended up being the longest relationship I’ve had to date, and I may start a series of short stories about the “thrills and chills” we had. But the most important thing was: I learned something. And if nothing else that is what this life is about. That is what any and every bit of anything we go through is about.

By the time the man called me I’d built up so many unrealistic ideals about him that I could hardly contain myself. What he did, best, was master the balance of wait and want. When I was next to him, the way he smelled might have caught my lungs on fire—I would breathe him in so deeply.

I consider myself a somewhat narcissistic person, I think to be a writer to some extent, one has to be. But at that time this man’s well being became more important than my own. Stephen Dobyns is quoted in his poem Desire saying “What is desire but the wish for some relief from the self?”

The more he cared about me, the more I was propelled into caring about him… but really, he just showed me that he wanted me, then made me wait. Later we unraveled, slowly and painfully, but Kim Addonizio said it best in her book Ordinary Genius:

But do not let us quarrel anymore.

And never let us speak again.

Or always let us try forever.

—Kim Addonizio, Ordinary Genius

What I found was that I am no longer “in love” necessarily with him as a person, but rather a mixture of his qualities and tendencies. With further study of myself I also came to terms with the fact that there are a lot of other people with the same temperaments, and even the same mannerisms. I “got over it” once I accepted the fact that I may not ever get over a person, and accepted that it may not be meant for me to do so, but I will grow into a better me because of the experience.

Some say pick your battles, some say choose a person whose flaws you can love the most, for me—I’m pretty picky, I suppose I’m not “all in,” unless a person shows me that he can not only not give up so easily, but better—that he can “try forever.”

Special thanks to Heartdutchess for the picture.

How Can We Be On The Same Page If You Ain’t Reading Out Loud?

If you’ve been following, Red said that to me the other night. In agreement of understanding as I carried on in “know-all” about the ones I love, conveniently, not listening.

 

I tend to read out loud. Now, whether or not you’ve heard me or not is a different story.

 

I’ll say a “subconscious-unconsciousness of” — too damn much. For instance if the person in front of me says he doesn’t like women who shop… all of a sudden I’m a thriftily shopping mo-fo. He doesn’t like tea? O, I only dabble in tea sipping, pinky finger flailing, honey sticks, and lattés, just dabble, lol.  Similar to Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride when it was all she could do to match her counterparts, she forgot herself.

 

I read, a lot. I read people. I speed read. I read attachments. I read magazines, marketing material, interviews, the internet, but mostly, I read out loud. I tell a person what’s wrong, generally, like most of us do — before telling them what’s right. I’m proud to recognize this, and acknowledge myself as a work in progress.

 

I write my toot off. I stay up wee hours of the night reading. Studying. I put it first when at times it should come second to some things like taking a few minutes to make the people I love happy.  Ma calls me up the other day, exhibit #1:

 

“Where da hell you beeennnnnnnn?” Her southern accent, a cheerily bit ghetto. She asks of why I haven’t called her.

 

I go on explaining and rambling off about deadlines, genre workshops, reading group, and submissions and halfway through my summary of absence, this broad is not listening. At all. I’m talking about not only not listening, but in full conversation with my niece in the background.

 

“Maaaaam, did you hear me????  You not listening! You never listen, how you gon’ ask me a question then go all off talkin’ to someone else?!” I shriek.

 

“Awhl, shiiiiiiiit, leme call ya later honey, these children are on my nerves.” She hangs up. I laugh and shake my head. Like I said, I read out loud, no one listens.

 

Example 2: an ex of mine came over about nine maybe ten one night o clock a few weeks back to listen as I read a few pages to him for proofing. After all, I can credit him for catching a lot of my run-on sentences, verb tense issues, and grammar ridiculousness. He also fully believes in my work and I love that. This particular time no sooner than shortly after his arrival did I read into about the fourth page, and I found that he had apparently took the drug opposite of No-Doze. He was full-on asleep, light snore and all. Naturally, I’m human, I was hurt.

 

He exclaimed that he was tired, which I believe he was, and that if he’d only had the pages in front of him (like his own copy) he would have stayed up. The issue is, when someone gives an über quick reason for falling short, the explanation loses its weight. A simple “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again” would have sufficed. Practice with me: “I’m sorry it, won’t happen again,“ the most important words in language, since “I love you” is overrated and everyone loves everybody.  I’m really sorry, I won’t read a damn thing to you, ever again. HAhahaha!

 

Him actually using those words might have gotten us on the same page. Simple acknowledgement and reassurance that it (hopefully) won’t happen again. Although Ma still hasn’t said a word about her tangents of rudeness, and my ex and I no longer talk, I still feel I’m learning how to better express myself, and I continue reading out loud. I just wish the right people would listen.

 

Picture taken by moi from “be happy: a little book to help you live a happy life” by Monica Sheehan.

Dating is shit, literally

I stopped dating for a while.

I think that starts mentally first. Sure there are the plentiful “in-betweens” I’ve met over the years, exes, or wanderers that have affected me and would rightfully say that him and I were “dating,” but such is a lie. I met him. Once or twice. I hung out with him; he called whenever he was bored. Once or three times, through a friend or he bought me a drink and I sipped and sped off.

Anyway, dating to me is the person (for the hopeful romantic upchuck/serial monogamistical/ and manic idiosyncratic like myself) that you wanna talk to before bed and stay up late talking to risking priorities not being met. The person you start dating and don’t mind a phone conversation while you’re sitting in the bubble bath with your teacup, tub-side. The person that after you’ve been dating a while, you don’t mind taking to the toilet with you for a pee or shit (over the phone of course! Don’t judge!) Anyway—that comfortable person for you. I’ll revisit the shit part later.

Needless to say… no one like that in my life. [Like I said ignore any coughing here] Lately, I tire early, request alone time, writing time, studying, reading, whatever—my life. From my perspective, “for now” and “wait list” are gravely different from “VIP guest list.” The man this story is about is “VIP guest list.” Yes, that hot. He is.

So I met him shortly (very shortly rather) after an aforementioned “in between” forced me to exclaim after dinner that yes— it’s time, I’ve been mentally “checked-out” for over a year and no we never go out like we used to, hell, chat like we used to, laugh at all— for that matter ((yawn)) and carry on for another hour of oil not mixing with water—like I said I stopped dating long ago. Lol.

I’ve called myself “in love” before or I’ve said that I have loved a person, although all of this is questionable at this point albeit my two family members and one close friend are all simultaneously in the process of divorce right now. Sort of changes the game when the people whose marriages you’ve always looked up to have come to an end. I’ve come to the conclusion that instead of being “in love with the idea of love,” I’ve just been “in love with what I wanted love to give me” and more importantly—with where I thought love would get me.

I’ll repeat more simply: If I wanted a happy marriage and a baby girl–I’d fall in love with that illusion instead of the person that could give that to me. So it wasn’t the holding hands in the park, secret-special, life is wonderful when you’re in love that I wanted—but the partner who helped me create the best creative reality using his imagination. I’m a sucker.

Here’s where it all comes together. I started (about 3 months ago) going out to happy hours/business mixers, attempting too-long bike rides, and posing men I’d meet on said adventures in the nonfiction stories I’d write. Truth is stranger than fiction—type of gig. I’d never imagine beyond the day I met the person. I’d never think that beyond a few drinks or lunch that I’d meet anyone I’d care to seriously see again. After some random guy would compliment me and walk my groceries to the car, I’d never bother thinking of him again  after the 500-word story about how my dress ended up being tucked in my panties, and so on. That type of thing.

So I go out one night to a dancy dive-type bar. Raunchily, the ill-appropriated folk are humping and cooing and the ceiling is sweating down on me. I simply had to drink to stand it as otherwise my OCD wouldn’t have let me continue on. Since I was there at this place of business this would insinuate that because I wouldn’t take anyone seriously here, that I am not a girl to be taken seriously, seriously.

Then I met [redacted]. Sorry I haven’t gotten his permission to post his name and I love his name so it’s much better not to make him up yet.

 

But I met [redacted] twice. Let’s call him “Red” for short. I went to the bar to “take the edge off” as the Alchy’s call it. Relax, have a laugh, and most importantly, write another damn story. Or live it well enough to write it the next morning.

First time I saw Red I said to myself —is the room shaking? —Is it Christmas? — Can I touch him? —Is he real? Or something non-short of such rah rah. He had sunlight skin, a tiny mustache, twinkling eyes, baby’s-toot-soft-skin, and a navy baseball cap if memory serves me. Nothing shiny or belligerent. No “ghetto bunkin” jersey when he’s not at a basketball game, no non-tailored blazer. Basic tee-and-jeans cutie.

He comes on strong, but asks for my number. I say no. He looks 12. My son is almost 12, I refuse to raise more children before I’m ready, unless of course you’re a rich publisher—please do inquire as none of this male bashing applies to you. Sorry I’m back. But I say to Red as he watches drinks swish down my sinkhole.

“No, you’re too young, besides, you asked for my number you should have politely demanded it.”

This was my way of deterring him, my weeding out process, my “if you’re too drunk you can’t jump through this hoop.” I tend to come up with many of those… aka… excuses. After all he was “12-looking” (or early twenties) and he did ask instead of tell me nicely and I was busy trying to graduate and not fall in love with anyone who fails to perfectly exist at this moment. Again, I shrugged my shoulders and bopped off. I was there to laugh with my friends and create stories. Not meet anyone, really.

The second time I met Red my friend and I were at the same ceiling-sweaty-place and he passed me with a sly smile. When I got up closer, I was about to say something along the lines of “don’t I know you?” when he confidently demanded my number, later reminding me that we’d met before and I’d said no because he “was hardly making the double digits in age, and that my son was nearly 12, I was almost 30, sorry but I’m not looking for anything.”

Wow, I say a drunken mouthful.

He decided to let me know that “I didn’t need to be looking, necessarily” and he bought me a diet coke and vanilla vodka and escorted me to the dance floor—this time without asking. Somebody learned. Fast forward to less than a week later our second date (our first date being a whole different story I’m writing) and I chose to cook for him at my home (which I’ve done for one handful of people because I’m afraid they’ll all realize that I have perfected 3 meals total and everything else I’m wingin’ it.)

He shows up. On time. Nicely dressed—and immediately my puppy loves him. Good signs. We eat our food, which I will not tell you in case I end up making it for you one day. Auh F it: we ate lemon peppered salmon, sautéed green and yellow green beans, langostino tails in garlic, and a red rice medley with flax seeds and barley.  Showin’ OUT. The appetizer was a Toscana cheese topped with cinnamon and what should have been crackers but when I tried to serve them they ended up being stale, so I quickly shoved them in the trash before Red could see.  So yah, appetizer was jus’ plain cheese and Rosé. Yea, I did that. Lol.

Damn he was fine. Mighta tied me up and chopped my kneecaps off for breakfast and I woulda smiled type-a’fine. Mighta forced his baton up my ellipsis type-a’ fine. I ain’t got no good sense nor proper sentence structure for this type-a’ fine.

Most men don’t (I repeat if this were a regular date I’d have scared him off already) keep me intrigued enough for a second date or I say too much all at once and there’s awkward silence and then no more. And here I am crazily offering to cook for a pretty stranger.

My puppy twirls at Red’s feet and jumps his lap hoping for a French kiss worse than I was.

I have not hoped for a French kiss since I was 15. I don’t really enjoy kissing much, when a relationship requires too much of it, especially when folks aren’t very good at it. I’m turned off. Slobber baths give me the creeps.

But this man. This Red guy. I wanted to kiss kisssssssss kiss. Put my OCD about saliva in a tight-lipped jar and kiss him until I saw stars. Possibly even make my prose rhyme a bit. Yes, that’s it.

We never got to the kiss. We never did because two romantic comedies later my puppy bless her soul—trots in, all 3 ½ pounds of her maltese wannabee pit bull comes from down the hallway— stares both of us down as we sit on my white couch surrounded by my off-white living room encompassed by my unusually oversized fluffy white rug fresh from the dryer early morning— yes my baby maltese “Notebook,” the girl pup I peacefully trained this spring by asking her please and praise—my little universe in the size of a shoe—shimmers into the living room and takes a long sarcastic “This is my mommy’s house who the fuck are you” staring dead at Red and shits in unbelievably juicy spurtles—similar to that of oversized bird droppings, in a sickly circular way all over my fluff rug.

And then I am sitting there with my mouth wide, fake-laughing it off with jokes and a high-larious voice of “I hope you still call me anyway, this was a nice and shitterific evening,” or this dating shit ain’t easy because it really is shitty, in fact, I couldn’t have shit it better myself. My maltese looks at me as if self-satisfied.

She walks off.

Picture from Savage Chickens

Gargoyles and Gargantuan Predators or In Case of Emergency Run Like Hell!!!

The person this story is about hopefully isn’t following everything that I write. But, I run that risk writing nonfiction. It’s over, who cares. For the sake of not getting a trillion emails I will change his name to “exhibit A” and not give the year or time, but other than that—story is real.

He had horrible breath. But, that was because he was the only man I knew that drank heavier than a gurgling hyena that passed out mid-sentence. I thought it was funny. Puerto Rican, with the most beautiful eyes—corner pocket I’d fall in love. Or what I wish to this day wasn’t ever strong enough to pose as love.

I can pinpoint all of my mistakes. It was a one-sided friendship, which usually turns into a one-sided relationship. He had friends that lived in my area, but he resided what maybe was an easy hour away except for his “gramma’s house,” which to this day I don’t know if it was ever his real gramma or some friend’s house that he made up. Back to how adorable he was: The kind of man most women assume will be chased, but still keep the hope that even if he chases others he still shows up at her door. Seriously, if he showed up at my door tomorrow I would purposely forget this story I am about to tell you. Not really, but I’d sure entertain what he’d say, and that ladies and gentlemen is how terribly gorgeous this man was.

I met him at my x best friend’s birthday party. I looked at him and knew no way he I was leaving without talking to this fool.

His pants slightly baggy, his hair wavy, his eyes glossy-dark, his voice boisterous enough for me to not miss, even in my own screaming, “happy birthday!” It was indeed a celebration. We were in a hotel. A patio called “Glo,” in Marina Del Rey. There were imitation fire lamps speckled across the court-yard and cabanas that made every section look private. I wore what I can now remember as my cute “freakum dress” tied off with halter belt worn high, everything was love.

I first noticed “exhibit A” as the event was ending. We flirted and I found that he was a friend of a friend’s friend. It was far down the line of I somewhat know you. Fast forward this night to the morning when we’d all apparently passed out in the hotel room floor after waking to a knock of room service bringing me a $70 breakfast I’d drunkenly ordered on my way to lalaville. O, I was young indeed. I remember leaving the hotel the next morning after having spent a whopping $470 and some odd dollars. Like I said, good times.

I was happy as a honeybee zizzing albeit hung over. Exhibit A and I began falling in lusciousness right away. I was invited to hang out. After a few long conversations, consistently driving back and forth to his house (yes, me and my horrific driving skills paved the road) I considered myself to be in “love.” Ha.

Exhibit A and I were inseparable. The early stages of infatuation is so intoxicating. Thinking about this made me realize how much I alone contributed to the friendship… and how that has affected my later relationships and life experiences.

He ended up disappearing for weeks not responding to calls or text messages. A month into the absence and just when I was ready to jump from a balcony somewhere all dramatic and pretty he calls saying something about some family issue, a failed test, and someone trying to hurt his sister. What? Random. He had excuses bigger than an execution day. It was only after I called bulls*it, that I found out he’d met another girl who coincidentally had the same name as I did and they were all over each others’ social networking pages. To this day I can’t remember any other disappointment being so much fun.

I’ve been on guard of one-sided friendships/relationships ever since. I’ll try for a while, and if I see I’m the only one trying… I let go. I’m always waiting for the rug that gets pulled. Or in my case, the whole damn floor.

I’m writing this for a friend who happened to call me today with what I see as a similar situation. I’ve learned it’s not nice to cut people off with your story that trumps their own   so this one is for you, ____, I love you. I know that much like me, you like to believe in the good that each person has. But you also fall for the best gargoyles and gargantuan predators. Unfortunately or rather fortunately my gargoyle wasn’t much worried about me, and I honestly hope you are as lucky. I mean that in the best way. It’ll sting for a while, but you’ll be ok. Sometimes, I’m learning… it’s best to cut your losses.

Recommended reading: You Lost Me at Hello, by Jess McCann.
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