mercredi, octobre 12, 2011

Hey, she didn't "steal" your boyfriend

She's sitting in the car next to me, phone glued to her ear, totally into the drama.

As far as I can tell Caitlin (names have been changed to protect the guilty) cheated on Mark. Caitlin had been going out with Ron, but when they broke up about a month ago, she transferred her affections to Ron's best friend (Mark, of course).

Now Mark, you see, had previously dated someone else in their circle -- Anita.

In fact, Anita has gone out with Larry, Alex and Billy -- all of whom once went with Caitlin.

All of them, at one time or another, have been wracked with pain, possessiveness and fear.

It's amazing that my daughter's friends find time to attend school. Probably the main purpose of doing that is to catch up on gossip.

What both amuses and annoys me is how this small clique of young men and women keep recycling their boyfriends and girlfriends -- producing the expected storms, tears and heartache.

On the one hand, it's funny. On the other, their world seems rather small.

The DQ doesn't seem to be listed among the "cheaters" -- phew. It's been a looong time since high school, but I' m aware that it's a hard reputation to live down.

Even if she didn't love the drama of it so much, I'd still be puzzled when it comes to helping her work her way through the steam.

Not only did I not do a lot of dating when I was younger (still don't), but I really don't "get" jealousy and possessiveness.

Oversensitivity? Yeah, I've been called on it. I tend to take some comments way more seriously than I should.

I do recognize that jealousy is a pretty common emotion, though --- and that it often comes from a place of deep hurt.

I've had a few difficult break-ups -- but even in cases like those, I didn't feel intimidated by the other women.

I sometimes play a little game.

What it would take to get me all riled up about another woman -- beauty? Brains? A fantastic body? The kind of wit that impels men to gather around her at parties, like bees to a flower?

It seems to me that it's silly to blame someone else, like my children's friends do sometimes, when a partner decides to leave -- a person can't be tempted without choosing to give in.

And one can't hang on to somebody else who doesn't want to be held. He or she will slide through your hands like oil.

I try to teach my daughter these things. But I fear that she's got to learn them herself.

Perhaps she will discover what a dead end jealousy can be from watching her friends suffer.

Or perhaps she'll find a calling as a therapist -- and get reimbursed for what she's doing freely.

Eventually, I hope she discovers that the freedom to choose has to be the freedom to lose -- only then will you be able to gain more than you ever imagined was possible... back when you wore the fearsome shackles.

Better than sex? the tearful follow-up

A few hours after I posted my rather frank examination of the lack of intimacy in my life (see above), a former parishioner commented on my link.

First of all, he's a wonderful person, and I adore him.

He's also a person who isn't happy when a "lady" speaks of sex in a public forum. He "worries" about me, sometimes, he says.

His well-meant comment has prompted all kinds of soul-searching on my part, not to mention a few tears.

As a blogger who is also ordained, I occupy a strange space. Sometimes self-revelation is a risk.

I have standards, but they aren't necessarily shared by all of my fellow faithful (how could they be?). We look at moral issues differently, and there are many shades of debate on some of these topics.

Was it inappropriate for me to own up to desiring sexual/emotional/intellectual intimacy in my life?

More pointedly, was it inappropriate to do so in my blog?

To link it to my Facebook page?

I don't have an answer. But I do know that it's part of what has driven me further and further from parish life.

My independence and desire for candor is a double-edged sword.

And so, I have no place to lay my head, metaphorically speaking -- neither conservative nor liberal, chaste by conviction or emotionally promiscuous, atheist or traditionalist.

But this is where I stand.

By choice.

And, today, a little sad.

Better than sex? Really?

Cake (with caramel frosting.)

I hear that there are 326 recipes for "better than sex" cake at alone.

Not to mention cookies, or or chocolate, or booze.

Hunter Thompson, back in the 1990's, argued in a book that politics was better than sex (though right now, with Congressional approval ratings in the basement, politics may be the penultimate anti-erotica).

Ummm....cell phones. They rate high on the "top ten list" of things that are better than sex because you can turn them on...and on (the list is linked below).

Well, with the exclusion of in vitro fertilization, I've tried pretty much everything on the list (I'm willing to work my way through the cakes).

And I'm not convinced that anything on it is better than emotionally intimate, hot, monogamous, tender and self-revealing sex.

Awww....did ya HAVE to add all of those adjectives, I can hear some of you groaning.

I know that a lot of guys don't -- I've had those conversations. Many, many times.

Perhaps that's why I remain alone for now (that, and a complete inability to see how I could shoehorn a relationship into my current life).

Despite a steady stream of aspirants (yes, I know that sounds arrogant, and I am puzzled by it), I don't seem to be able to move from the step a to step b to the somewhere down the road that would lead to appropriate sex.

Which doesn't mean that I can't imagine, at some point, wanting to be intimate with a man. Or that I don't think that it could be considerably better than a delicious chocolate cake, or a good run (though I love those, too).

Slow, revealing intimacy with a smart guy could be fantastic.

Oh yes, intelligence -- another criteria that is high on my list, and one which many men seem to appreciate and look for in women as they get older. Perhaps it's because, as they say, the brain is the biggest sex organ. There's something about a clever mental tease that is invigorating.

So do I think anything is better than sex?

Oh, probably.

I just can't remember what it is, right now.

I know a way to make you laugh at that cowgirl as she's walking out your door...

mardi, octobre 11, 2011

Throwing away the playbook

Are we on the verge of some kind of real change in America? Or do we have a democratic system that placates and marginalizes dissent?

For all you folks who hoped that I would be talking about football when I stuck the word "playbook" in the headline, sorry to disappoint you.

For those of you who were praying that I wouldn't, this is your lucky day. I don't understand football strategy, and even mix up simple baseball plays now and then -- a woman's got to know when to keep quiet.

Back to politics.

Like you, possibly, I've been watching the recent explosion of "Occupy Wall Street" meet-ups around the country, and pondering what it means for America - and for our democracy.

As with the rise of the Tea Party, pundits are divided -- is this a bunch of anarchist, far-left young folks who are looking for a cause? Are they the usual suspects, brothers and sisters to protesters who show up at anti-globalism demonstrations around the world?

Are the people holding marches and sleepovers around the nation the left's answer to the Tea Party? Could they find common cause with the Tea Party?

I don't have the answer to any of these questions (add omnipotence to things that are not on my list today).

But I do think, in opposition to the disdain heaped on them by some right-wing pundits, that there is cause to take OWS seriously. By themselves, the protests might not mean all that much -- though that's arguable.

In the context of the broad discontent shaping American politics, high unemployment (particularly among young people) and an economic picture that shows little immediate promise of getting brighter, they may mean a lot.

It's worth paying attention, not solely to OWS, but to what happens with the deficit reduction committee, the Stock Market, the Eurozone debt hurricane, and jobs figures.

If they don't show signs of making substantial change, we could continue our downward slide.

Then lots of us might wish OWS was simply a bunch of dreadlocked students -- instead of groups with genuine grievances, and nowhere to go with them.

lundi, octobre 10, 2011

The "what-if" game

The Red Sox, the Yankees, the Phillies...I'm still shocked that none of these teams made the second round (at least), of the playoffs.

Like many other fans, I play the "what-if" game. What if the Yankees had beaten the Tampa Bay Rays? What if the Sox had beaten the Orioles (the ORIOLES, man)? What if the Phillies had managed to dig deep for two runs instead of zero in the final of the five-game series with the Cardinals?

What if Derek Jeter's last at-bat in the bottom of the eighth had gone a bit deeper? And what if Alex Rodriguez ever did what he gets paid 32 mil a year to do?

It's a weird feeling to realize that in the World Series the East Coast teams with the largest payrolls, and some of the best pitchers and batters in America were simply outplayed.

But in baseball as in life, we can't linger too much on the "what-ifs."

I made a connection a while back with a gentleman named Jim who lives above Morgantown, Pa.

After a phone call that went on for quite a while, in which we really seemed to hit it off, we made a lunch date.

Then came my son's hive attack. The lunch had to be postponed.

When I approached him again, it was too late (at least for now). He's begun to date someone else -- and he's not the type of guy, he says, to play the field.

What if we'd met? What if we'd liked each other? What if we'd had another date?

What if somehow someone entered my local column for a Pulitzer?

Get the idea?

One can't dwell on "what-if's", except for a moment.

Regret -- and move on.

"Maybes" (those that have some link to reality) are another matter.

Perhaps in the year 2012 the East Coast teams won't fold near or in playoff time -- or won't break our hearts by getting so darn close.

Yes, America, we East Coast folks DO have hearts.

Perhaps Jim, the summer connection, will once again be free to meet -- though I'm not wasting a lot of time reflecting on this.

And perhaps my editor will submit my Lancaster column for a Pennsylvania press award (if I remind him).

"Maybes" are possibilities with some promise.

"What-ifs" can be dreams that impel you on to greater things. But they can sometimes keep you from moving on.

And sure things? They can happen if you work hard enough.

The trick is learning to know the difference.

dimanche, octobre 09, 2011