Tuesday, January 27, 2009

To all the boys I've loved before

As Valentine's Day looms, I (perhaps stupidly) was inspired to write a memo to all of the dudes who I've loved and left or those who broke my heart. Or those many I didn't love, but certainly had an affect on me. I'm 27 now -- ready to get hitched and have myself a kid -- and yet I'm planning a Valentine's Day with ice cream, a bottle of wine and a chick flick to share with myself. Sure, I'm annoyed, but, really, when aren't I, right?

* I know that at least two of you read this. But it's probably nothing I haven't already said to you, so you'll probably get over it pretty easily. And it's not like I used your name, anyway, even if I described you in a completely obvious way.

In no particular order...

The Jock: You were so cute and so cool and so didn't know I was alive for a really long time. But I have volumes upon volumes of diary entries about the way you looked when you shot a free-throw.

The One I Couldn't Have: You reminded me that no matter how secure one feels, there's always someone out there who can still make your heart race. When you kissed me, you took my face in your hands and I melted. There I am, in a puddle on the floor.

The High School Sweetheart: First real love; first real heartbreak. We talked about everything, you remembered my favorite things; I wore your shirts; we talked on the phone, hiding under the covers so our parents wouldn't catch us, until 2am. But then we broke up (wow, I even forget why now) and you asked your ex-girlfriend to the prom. But then we made out on your graduation day.

The One From Chem: You took me on my first real date, even if it was just to the mall. I was utterly infatuated with the idea of someone liking me -- really liking me -- until you threw a basketball at my head. Game over.

The Hipster: Within a month or two of our meeting, I told people I was going to marry you. You both opened me up -- to things I wouldn't have seen, listened to, or thought otherwise -- and closed me off to where there was only you, me and our fictional but possible son in my mind. You made awesome mashed potatoes. I remember first thinking we were actually compatible when we built our first piece of Ikea furniture together and didn't argue. It was what I pictured married life to be with you. But then I left. And came back. And then you left. And didn't.

The Married One: If I was one of upstanding moral code, I would label you The Mistake. But I won't because I am not. No, I just wasn't then. I wouldn't make the same choices now. But back to you... You paid attention to me in a way no one ever has. You made me feel, for lack of a better word, sexy for the first (and maybe last) time in my life. The air was always hot and even pumping gas seemed like a deviant act. I changed after you.

The Tortured Artist: You were smoldering hot and a ridiculously good kisser. I certainly wasn't in love with you, but I could have made out with you, quite happily, for much longer than we did, even if you did like stupid movies.

The Comedian: You changed me, too. For a few moments, with you, I thought I just might end up with everything I wanted. You made it seem so possible. So real. But the scar on my stomach is a reminder that while we will certainly care about one another, love isn't in the plan. You get the one I/we call "Sarah."

The One Who Gave Me Pot: You made me laugh, and I made you cry. You had a warm, inviting smile. You played with my hair. You were the kind of supportive partner that I may never have again -- you were so generous and caring; thoughtful and encouraging. And I broke up with you on Superbowl Sunday for someone who was, ultimately, very wrong for me.

The Type-A: You pushed me to be a better student, and a more articulate person. You let me hit you when you were being a douchebag. I remember some of your little quirks -- the way you'd pull on your hair or the way you said my name -- like they were yesterday. But what sticks out most, now, is your selfishness -- like when you left me at the hospital to go home and write a paper. Douchebag.

Well, that was therapeutic.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Coping with Emotional Distress: Lesson One

What not to do when you've had a horrendous week and you're feeling bitter and alone:
  • Don't make plans with your married friend who you have a serious crush on
  • Don't have dinner with a former colleague who has the job that you deserve
  • Don't write emails to the opposite sex without first consulting someone else of the opposite sex
  • Don't skip lunch or only eat animal crackers
  • Don't watch Pretty Woman, The Notebook or Lars and the Real Girl, etc. and/or listen to Nicole Atkins, REM or the like
  • Don't laugh hysterically instead of cry hysterically
  • Don't cyber-stalk anyone
  • Don't accept a loan, no matter how small, from your boss
  • Don't make and consume a box of macaroni and cheese after 10pm
What to do instead:
  • Host a slumber party for your two favorite people and drink wine from the bottle
Lesson One complete. Please turn the tape over.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lessons with DiSaronno

A few weeks ago at my company's holiday party, a colleague told me that I don't enjoy life. 

Okay, I'll back up... We all had a good bit to drink -- and even without alcohol I'm a bit of a sharer, but with, obviously, even a bit more. So while catching up said colleague on the rather sad state of my life in the last few months and where I see myself headed (I'd call us friendly, but not exactly friends, I guess), she did the whole nod in sympathy thing and I rambled with my amaretto sour in hand. Then I took my turn to listen. And we had a nice little chat. Then, while heading to our second (or third?) destination a bit later, she said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Ashley, you need to enjoy life. Go out. Be yourself. People love you. I don't think you enjoy life." 

Really? That's what I give off to the world? I don't enjoy life?

When I literally stopped in my tracks, she felt immediately bad and said that that's not what she meant. And she probably didn't. She spent the next hour or so telling me how horrible she felt for what she'd said and tried to explain what she really meant. I don't really remember what that was anymore, though. Along the journey down Park Avenue South another colleague joined us and she and I began talking about our ticking biological clocks (and there I went again with the sharing). 

The baby conversation is but a vague memory, but the other comment is still very fresh. What does that even mean? And, what did it mean to me?

Maybe I don't enjoy life like it should be enjoyed. But, if I don't, I don't know what it means to really enjoy life. And then that makes me a little sad. Sure, I have things I enjoy -- reading, eating cookies, good music, great sex, maxing capacity on my TiVo, etc. -- but is enjoying life, experiencing life, about more than just being content? I don't typically enjoy the same things that my peers do. I never really did. I drink and go out occasionally, but the frequency in which I enjoy those things doesn't seem to be enough for most people my age. But does acting a bit older (or, okay, acting a lot older) mean I'm not enjoying my twenties? I never thought so before.

And, this is, of course, not to say that I plan to change my middle-aged Friday nights, but it has made me think a lot more about what an ideally enjoyable life would mean for me. And, no, I'm not living it right now. 

I'm not saying that this was a life-altering moment in the middle of the street, but its certainly got me thinking.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ashley, Now and Then

Inspired by the hot chick over at Regarding Mary, tonight is an excellent night to list some of things I love about me. Because today, was, let's say just a little difficult. Here goes:
  • my auburn hair and green eyes
  • a close relationship with my brother
  • competent writing skills
  • the ability to support myself (albeit barely sometimes)
  • my obnoxiously adorable laugh
  • the ability to be understanding and, generally, patient
  • my loyal, supportive, witty friends
  • my own loyalty, support and witty remarks to those friends
  • my bookshelf of everything from Cormac McCarthy to Harry Potter
  • coworkers who think I'm actually funny
  • a comfortable bed and yoga pants to come home to
  • the ability to open up to people, even if that's sometimes too much
  • a slightly better than average kisser (Ed. Note: I'm amending this to above average kisser, I was just being modest before...)
  • the good sense to usually wear comfortable shoes
  • enough general knowledge and open-mindedness to discuss politics with (most) others
  • a sweet tooth (or several)
  • knowing when to ask for help when I really need it
Better now.