Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Someone Notice me Please

So I had a bit of a breakdown the other day. I started crying for no reason while explaining to my husband why I was in such a crappy mood. After hours of talking through things with the prodding of my husband's best Dr. Phil impression we got to the heart of things: I am still very much stuck in a rut. It's been 5 years in Syracuse now and I still haven't found my niche. I don't have a core group of friends, I don't have much of a social life and my flexible work schedule leaves me with hours of screw around time.

I am vain, I know this. I have always been vain. I have lived by the attention that I have gotten (good or bad) in the past. I have been very active in local meetups for the past year hoping to meet new people. If you haven't tried it, Meetup.com is a great resource if you're new to a place and looking to get a life. There are tons of clubs for every interest that you can imagine. I had hoped that through these clubs I would form friendships with people and start doing things with them outside of the meetups but that hasn't happened. The once a month meetups have provided me with a tease of what a regular social life could be. I wear cute clothes, fix my hair, put on makeup and just carry myself different when I go to these events. On a daily basis it's hard for me to get motivated to do much of anything.

Why get dressed up for work when I'm not going to have to talk to another human being in person for more than 5 minutes? Who cares what my hair looks like or if I'm wearing flip flops and dirty jeans? The lack of personal grooming is definitely a reflection of how I feel on the inside. I just don't care and it's getting harder to get myself prepared for those events when I am going to interact with people because of how different it is from my daily routine. No one here cares that I've gained 35 pounds since I moved here (they probably haven't noticed) but when I see my family and friends once or twice a year it's the first thing that they bring up. So I feel like crap for the week that I see them but then when I get back home it's hard to maintain a regular workout schedule because no one here is going to notice.

My husband thinks that I need to take a certain personal pride in my appearance. I should workout and dress up because it makes me feel good and not because someone else might notice. He's absolutely right, I should, but that's not how I'm built. I am an attention whore and I've been starving for it since I moved here. The solutions: 1. Keep putting myself out there and hope that eventually friendships will form; 2. Do more social events with my husband that get us out of our hermit routine; 3. Join a group that meets more than once a month and take on a role in that group where people are dependent on me and I have to show up, like a job, or I will let people down.

Some ideas based on previous activities and interests:
  • volunteer work with kids, animals, the environment or the less fortunate
  • get certified to teach a fitness class and/or go back to martial arts
  • join a music group
  • start a second career that gives me the social interaction that I'm missing from my current job but that I can do on my own schedule

I spent the better part of my Sunday researching different activities and think I have a plan in place to get moving on two of these this summer. In the meantime, I'm going to have to self-motivate because its good for me and I can't continue to walk around feeling sorry for myself. Because I have to believe that even though its lasted for 5 years, this phase in my life is temporary.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Remembering Our Wedding Day

My husband and I have four weddings to attend this year. As our two year wedding anniversary approaches, we have been reminiscing about our wedding day. It truly was the best day of my life. The days leading up to the wedding, the two week honeymoon, everything was almost perfect.

My husband and I had planned plenty of activities for the days before the wedding. That gave us the opportunity to spend time with our friends and family without having them sitting in our living room for 4 days. Everyone got along. The weather cooperated. Everything really was fabulous. But there were some hiccups...

My husband and I were hoping that each of our families would contribute to the wedding budget. We expected to spend about $15,000 and were hoping to get about $5,000 of that from my mom and his aunt and uncle. She had talked about contributing to the budget 18 months before the wedding when we got engaged but my mother has never been a saver and since my father died she has never been able to manage her money well. My mother was completely strapped financially and was living paycheck to paycheck by the time the wedding around. It was all she could do to scrape up enough money for the hotel, dress and 4 days of spending money. She paid for her and I to get our hair done as her wedding gift to us.

My husband's aunt and uncle are very comfortable financially and have bailed out all of my husband's siblings at various times throughout their lives. They never had to bail my husband out and he never asked for anything so we thought a check was probably coming our way. A couple months before the wedding we realized that no money was coming and that our $15,000 wedding was actually going to be a little over $18,000. So we took out a personal loan with a really high interest rate and maxed out our credit cards. We ended up getting about $2,500 in cash from wedding gifts (most of that coming from my husband's aunt and uncle) and were able to pay down our debt. We just paid off the personal loan this week and don't regret anything.

The violinist we hired to play for the ceremony was a diva who complained about how cold it was on our wedding day and how that was bad for his strings and his fingers. We live in upstate New York, we got married in the fall, you are a member of a symphony orchestra who has concerts outside through Thanksgiving. Shut up!!! But he played beautifully and everyone complimented us on the amazing atmosphere that it provided for our outdoor ceremony.

The hair salon where my mother and I were getting our hair done forgot about our appointments. We spent 30 minutes sitting in the parking lot waiting for the owner to arrive and then spent the better part of the next 4 hours listening to people gossip and handle their personal business. Our hair styles took about an hour but the styling time was split over the 4 hours that we were there. They didn't take credit cards so I had to walk to a sketchy convenience store around the corner to withdrawal money from an ATM machine that charged $3 for each of the 2 transactions that I made because they limited the amount of money that you could take out a time to $50. Why is it that all the best black hair salons are in the ghetto and that the stylists act like extras in a Tyler Perry movie that are doing you a favor rather than professionals? We missed our manicure/pedicure appointments with the rest of the bridal party (who were all white or Hispanic and had their hair done at a nice salon). Luckily the hair salon had nail polish remover and a nail file so we were at least able to make our nails look presentable. We rushed from the salon and went through a McDonald's drive through on our way to the ceremony. The look on the ladies face as I paid, full bridal up-do and veil in place, was priceless.

The bakery misunderstood our instructions and our cake looked like it was for a kids birthday party and not a wedding. At least they got the flavors right. I picked the cakes up on my way to McDonald's so obviously there was no time to argue. Once again, another great look from a cashier as I paid and then rushed out the door with my veil blowing in the wind.

Our wedding planner didn't set up the room that I had picked for the bridal party to get dressed in so we all crammed into a public restroom at the state park where the ceremony was. The wedding planner did an awesome job saving us money and setting things up for us. But the hours of A Wedding Story and Whose Wedding is it Anyway? had told me that my wedding planner was going to be my best friend, my right hand man, my go-to-gal and she definitely wasn't any of those. She was actually kind of cold and not overly helpful with anything that we didn't ask her to do directly.

For example, all she would have had to do was tape paper on the windows at the park lodge and my bridal party would have had a nice space to get dressed in and store our belongings but when one of my bridesmaid's asked her about this she indicated that I was going to do that when I got there. Right, after rushing from the salon and picking up the cake I was going to buy a roll of paper and tape it up. Like I said, she did her job, but she didn't overextend herself. If you've watched any of these wedding shows you see the wedding planners adding little touches to the wedding from their personal arsenal of bridal accessories and going out of their way to make sure everything is taken care of so the bride and the groom don't have anything to worry about except for getting married. My husband and I paid everyone, planned and booked all the activities outside of the wedding, bought all of the decorations and put together the favors ourselves. We couldn't have gotten married without our planner but she could have definitely taken more of the responsibility on herself to earn the 10% of our budget that she charged.

I forgot the marriage license so a friend had to go back to my house to pick it up. It only delayed the ceremony for about 30 minutes but I felt like such a jerk since I pride myself on being super organized and always on time.

Then there are always the family things: having the rehearsal dinner at our house stressed out me and the pets and cost more money than a sit down dinner at restaurant would have cost, my mother's family had never seen the house before so they invited themselves over the afternoon before the rehearsal dinner and lead to us spending additional $ on a family meal from KFC to feed them all, the bridal party hung out at my house for 4 hours on the day before the wedding instead of leaving after breakfast while the men went out to play golf- we watched TV and stared at the walls while I should have been going to the florist and the caterer and making final arrangements for the wedding, my husband ended up handling these errands while I prepared the house for the rehearsal dinner.

Looking back on things now, I should have spoke up and told my family they couldn't come to the house the day before the wedding and asked the bridesmaids to leave the house because I had errands to run. But really, these things aggravated me for a a very short amount of time. I was floating on air for much of that month and loved every minute of it. Our wedding is often talked about as the best wedding any one's every been to and I love that. My husband and I have discussed renewing our vows or having a big anniversary party every 10 years because a party that good shouldn't only happen once in a life time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Penn State Proud

I recently watched a documentary on Logo (home of a lot of great documentaries) about the Penn State Women's basketball team. I am a proud Penn State alum but this documentary didn't give me anything to be proud of. Rene Portland, the basketball coach since the late 70's, was very vocal about her disapproval of lesbian players on her team and actually sabotaged the careers of many young women because of their sexuality. When I was at Penn State, I remember a couple of articles about Ms. Portland but honestly they didn't receive a lot of attention from the student body. The women's basketball team was very successful during my time there(1994-1999). They were regularly in the top ten and had a bigger crowd at their games than the mediocre men's team.

What shocked me the most about the documentary were the multiple negative reports from former student athletes and diversity experts from other universities and organizations that had been ignored by the university . Even more shocking is that Ms. Portland was allowed to continue coaching until 2005 when the public outcry finally reached a level that the university could not ignore. But the most disappointing part for me was that Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach for 40 plus years, was a Portland supporter during all this time. While Portland was going out and telling reporters that lesbians were not allowed on her team, Paterno was giving her awards and singing her praises to all of the university administrators. Any Penn Stater will tell you that the word of Joe Paterno trumps that of the university president becuase he brings more money into the university than any other individual or department.

It is always frustrating when someone who has been built up to be a great person based on the personality traits the media (or I) chose to focus on. Logically, of course I would expect an 80 year old white man to have different political and social views than I do. But Joe Paterno is a college football icon first and an 80 year old man second. I have excused various racist and sexist comments over the years because of who they came from. As I have gotten older, I recognize these comments much quicker and am less likely to let them pass. When I look back on situations that I have been in, I recognize that there were times when I should have spoken up and I didn't.

I don't think I would have boycotted any sports teams if I felt the way I feel now when I was a student. But if a large portion of the student body protested, I might have. Unfortunately, like most big-time sports schools, there is very little that I can imagine happening that would have upset the big money that college football and basketball bring into the university. I still love Joe Paterno and Penn State football but I also recognize that, outside of the public football persona, there probably isn't much to like.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What's Wrong With Your Dog?

I have always been overly sensitive. Someone tells me I look nice with my hair straight and whether I say it out loud or not, I think to myself "Oh, so my hair doesn't look nice when it's curly". I usually have an entire angry dialogue with this person in my head and get myself all worked up. To my credit, sometimes people mean the negative conclusion that I have jumped to in my head. They prove this by the next comment they make. But, it's not fair for me to assume everyone is a jerk just because some people are.

My dog has hip dysplaysia. He's had it since I got him 8 years ago. It's not uncommon in large dogs and can be managed fairly easily if you are proactive about it providing supplements and physical therapy. But my dog walks with a noticeable hitch in his step and he has collapsed wrists which makes it even more noticeable. I remember one day I was at a dog park in Baltimore with a friend of mine. We were sitting back watching our dogs play when a complete stranger came up to me and asked me "What's wrong with your dog"? He said it in a pretty nasty way and he had one of those bought from the breeder, snotty dogs. I looked him straight in the eye and said "Nothings wrong with my dog" and walked away. That was 7 years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

The other day a woman at the vet's office shook her head and said "Poor thing" as my dog walked by. I wanted to punch her in the face. He has problems getting up after he's been sitting for a while but once he's up he gets around just fine. I did not want this woman's pity. I felt like explaining that my dog was really happy and not suffering and that he just had problems getting up because he hadn't been to physical therapy for a few months while he was healing from a skin infection and that normally he was more mobile than that.....etc, etc. That's how it comes into my brain. Like one long, angry run-on sentence of justifications and defenses of my situation. I don't know why I care so much about what complete strangers think but I do and I hold on to what they say and carry it with me for an eternity.

I often pre-retaliate to comments that I think people will make. That way I've already had the argument in my head before we have the actual conversation and I'm ready with all the points that I wouldn't be able to make in the heat of the moment. As you guessed, most of the time these arguments never come to fruition and I'm left spent from the wasted energy of preparing for a conversation that will never happen. Of course, when I let my guard down and don't prepare and someone slaps me in the face with a ignorant or hurtful comment I am always too emotional to collect my thoughts. I never get a chance to say what I mean and leave the situation feeling more frustrated. It's like the perfect comeback that you come up with the day after someone tells you off.

I remember that on Oprah a lifetime ago an expert recommended writing letters to people who you had unresolved issues with. You never sent these letters but the idea was that by writing down your thoughts you would be able to let go of whatever you were holding on to. I've done that a few times over the years and all it did was make it even clearer that I had no closure to these situations and that I never would. It brought up all the old anger and provided none of the promised relief.

At 33 years old I find myself worrying too much about what strangers think and wondering what happened to the confident, cocky woman that I used to be. I remember how I used to drive down the highway singing at the top of my lungs and smiling. Now I am so tense when I drive that I have developed a permanent frozen shoulder and stiff neck that require muscle relaxants and regular chiropractic and massage therapy. I am overly aware of other drivers when I'm stopped at a traffic light or passing people on the highway. I never look to see if any one's actually looking at me but I always imagine that they are. My husband doesn't even let me drive any more when we go places together because he hates seeing me that tense.

Maybe I should get hypnotized or something. There has to be some way to undue this knot that I've tied myself into. It would be so nice to be free of this anxiety.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]