Vents and Promises

Every month I have the same conversation with my best friend at work. It’s always on a day when my boss is ragging on me, assignments are piled on my desk and I haven’t had a break to eat lunch.  I sulk over to his desk and I tell him, “I’m done.”

You see, if you knew me, like really knew me…it makes sense. I’m a quirky social person whose interpersonal skills are strongest.  Yet, I sit behind a computer screen working in the background of a financial operation.  I literally speak to no one.  Every day that goes by, I waste my talents and I don’t deal with anything that excites me.  I have no passion and no drive in my professional environment and it shows.  The wind is and has been out of my sails for a while and I’m ready to admit it.

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I used to write this blog and update it regularly. It was a creative outlet that gave me something to look forward to each week.  In a way I thought, maybe one topic or a certain story would strike a nerve with an audience and inspire the elusive next step.  Or maybe in my creative state, I would finally happen on an idea, something that would give me the momentum to get out of this dull soul-sucking workplace.

I have 1,000 excuses and 400 reasons why I shouldn’t leave my job; the subtext of all of them is fear. Fear of failure, the unknown, and fear that my family will suffer why I selfishly pursue professional happiness.  A true “first world problem”, I suppose.

In an effort to boost my own moral and get back into something I enjoy…I want to start blogging again. I have some juicy new stories to share and I need to start making time.  Join me as I begin flexing my creative muscles in an effort to stop complaining and start doing something about it.

If you have your own story to share about discovering your true passion or leaving the corporate world for a more satisfying career, I would love to hear what you have to say. And for the rest of you, the cubicle warriors that can’t stand the daily grind, I’ll shower you with snark from a hater to get you through the day.

 

 

 

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Tiny Dancer Affairs cont.

Lisa and Etienne continued to see each other secretly. Etienne had Lisa teaching classes at the dance school so he could conveniently pull her into the back room for “one on one” time. He loved the thrill of the knowing that someone could discover them at any minute; the affair brought exhilaration to his daily life. The rush he felt during the private encounters left him feeling free of his problems. The failing economy and the expense of his divorce were threatening his livelihood. Acting on sexual impulse with Lisa was enough to mask the turmoil of his otherwise depressing situation. The more risky the encounters the longer his good feelings would last; Lisa was like a drug. As his days became more stressful, his sexual needs became more extreeme.

One night after class, Lisa invited me for a drink. Weeks prior, she confided in me about her relationship with Etienne. She swore me to secrecy and asked me for my honest opinion as it applied to her circumstances. She explained that during the day things with Etienne were normal, almost like a married couple. They would plan the studio’s teaching schedule; go shopping for supplies and share meals before evening classes. They spoke mostly of dance, their shared passion, and the future of the studio. Etienne dreamed that one day Lisa would run her own studio, bearing his name, on the other side of town. Lisa felt that these types of conversations proved that their relationship had a public and lasting future. Then Lisa began reflecting on the darker side of things.

Most nights, after class was finished, Etienne would follow Lisa home to her apartment. There he would drink and conversation would shift from dance to sex. Etienne knew that Lisa was deeply devoted to him. Not only as a student, but as a lover and potential boyfriend. He preyed on her vulnerability by promising that sharing in his fantasies would seal their union. He wanted to bring other people into the mix and experiment on levels that made Lisa uncomfortable. She was embarrassed by the proposition, but considered participating in the hopes of keeping Etienne engaged. From my perspective, it seemed like Etienne’s thrills were rooted in his power to manipulate. If he could turn a good girl bad, he would experience unparallel ecstasy. The delight was not derived from the acts as much as the power over another person.

Lisa was not naive to Etienne’s manipulation tactics. She explained that he would use his influence to control students at the dance school. He studied great leaders and self help gurus to master the art of suggestion. For example, Etienne would compliment certain students and have them believe that they had special talent. He would pull them aside and tell them that they had the potential to teach their own classes at the school. To develop their extraordinary skills they would need to take extra class and a certification course, which, naturally cost hundreds of dollars. In few instances, the students would successfully complete the training and actually become a certified instructors. In this case, Etienne would put them to work but without pay, since they were still in an “apprentice” phase. So you see, the exceptional talent, was only part of a greater money marketing scheme, the result being free labor for Etienne and his dance school. Thus, Etienne’s manipulation tactics carried over into his personal life.

Lisa understood she was being used on some levels and she expressed anger and frustration over the state of affairs. She wanted to swear Etienne off and cut the physical ties but she still loved the man he was during the day deeply. Lisa wanted to bargain; find a way to keep him in her life. She considered an ultimatum…he dates her publicly or not at all. In fact, she had the perfect opportunity to present her terms. The next weekend was her best friend’s birthday party. She planned to invite Etienne as her date. I would be the only other dance student at the party and I already knew of the relationship, so there was no concern over the business and pleasure boundaries. It would be an opportunity to start fresh, taking the dark relationship into the light where the manipulation and erotic dares would cease. He would be the same man he was during the day at night. Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?

What kind of couple are we?

Have you seen this new show called Perfect Couples? I believe it is part of NBC’s Thursday night line up along with the Office and 30 Rock. The show is about different couple stereotypes: the self help couple, the make up to break up couple and the couple that suspects they might have settled for one another only to rediscover how perfect they are for each other. The show goes to extreme examples for the purpose of entertainment and it got me thinking…what kind of couple are we?

If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you know the story of Mr. Right and me. It was a romantic beginning resulting in, what I felt was, a perfect marriage. We frolicked about in the honeymoon stage until one day we woke up and realized…oh shit: this is for real. The same theme prevails in the show and the one couple has the exact same argument that Mr. Right and I have all the time. It goes a little something like this:

MB: “Honey, can you help me move the couch in the office?”

waits in silence

MB: “Honey? HoNEEEE?

Mr. Right: with distain “What do you want?”

MB: with newfound bitchiness “Can you tear yourself away from whatever critically important thing you are doing and come help me move this couch?”

Mr. Right enters room appearing grossly inconvenienced and beholds an angry MB

Mr. Right: “What’s wrong?”

MB: “Nothing.”

Mr. Right: “No, I can tell something is upsetting you.”

MB: “Nothing.” Shoots Mr. Right looks of death

Mr. Right: whilst moving couch “Honey, tell me what’s wrong.”

MB: “I didn’t appreciate the attitude when I asked for your help.”

Mr. Right: “What attitude?”

MB: impersonating Mr. Right “I asked for your help and you said ‘WHAAAAT!?”

*explosive accusatory verbal warfare ensues

Perhaps this is a lame example, but what I am trying to demonstrate and what the show is also attempting to prove is that our perception of our partner’s actions can drive us to react in a combative or exaggerated nature. In this example, I wanted help. I was probably tired from a long day at work and irritated by the idea of moving furniture. Maybe I could hear the TV in the background and became further agitated by the fact that Mr. Right was relaxing while I was stuck with housework. Mr. Right on the other hand, had also come home from a full day of work. He cracked open a beer, put his feet up and tuned into his DVR, only to be interrupted by the shrill of his wife’s voice. Why did she want to move furniture this very minute? His show was just getting started and housework was low on his list of priorities. Mr. Right and I are both entering the situation with frustration and preconceived annoyance. With duel bad attitudes, an argument is unavoidable.

Mr. Right and I are admittedly extra sensitive people; our feelings get hurt easily. In addition to that common trait, we also are both very independent fostered by years of living and supporting ourselves as single people. This combination of heightened sensitivity and fierce independence makes the teamwork efforts of a perfect couple hard to master. Constructive criticism (i.e.: my impersonation of him offending me) makes us defensive of one another and the concept of work together for a greater good is lost. Our defensive walls go up and the communication breaks down. It happens so often I gave it a name, maybe it even describes what kind of couple we are…emotionally territorial.

Am I saying Mr. Right is Mr. Wrong? Are we headed for inevitable doom and disaster? No, no, no, not at all, we are just novice communicators who have not fully abandoned our independent lifestyle behaviors. We are breaking out of our old habits and learning what sinks and what swims in terms of our marriage. We embody certain stereotypical “couple” labels and they are not all positive. However, I have faith that we can be the emotionally territorial couple and still weather the storm. The real key to survival is being honest about your joint shortcomings and acknowledging the part you play in the failure of communication. Mr. Right and I have agreed to sit down on a weekly basis and talk more about why we act and react the way we do. We can already see the progress because our preconceived notions of one another’s attitudes are changing. We can look in the mirror and wave confidently to the imperfect couple that is our reflection because we know those two people are committed to each other happiness and ultimately to becoming a better team.

More on this soon…hope you are well ~ MB

People, take the initiative when it comes to online dating!

While holiday shopping this weekend, I ran into an old acquaintance. We have not seen or heard for one another in over a decade. She is now engaged and I am married. I asked her where she met her fiancé and she hesitated, made an awkward hand gesture and told me that she met her guy online. I smiled and shared that I used Match.com to find Mr. Right. She looked relieved that I too understood the benefits of online dating. The results are everywhere. If you are single and looking it is time…Get out there!

As I have mentioned time and time before, we need to move away from the stigma that online dating is for 24/7 World of Warcraft playing introverts! Not so! It is for your everyday busy young professional that simply does not have time to hit up the bar scene or participate in ten different extra curricular activities. If you are single and interested in dating there are now numerous free sites that can help you meet the right person.

I know what you are thinking. You have ten reasons ready to prove that online dating is not right for you. You are worried about your privacy. Ok, well then I suggest Match.com or a dating system you have to pay to view profiles. Only people seriously looking to date would pay for such a service so, the people that see you on there are also on the site for similar reasons. A coworker sees your Match.com profile…guess what – THEY ARE ON MATCH TOO! No one is going to pay $30 – $60 just to laugh at goofy dating profiles. It does not happen; not in this economy.

Ok ok, you are worried you will be matched up with a serial killer. Valid concern when considering the Craig’s List killer and all the other wackos abound. Well, here is an idea. Seriously vet these candidates before meeting them in a very public place. Email, talk on the phone and then meet in person. Google them! And obviously, for the love of all that is holy, meet in a public place. Do not go home with the person on the first night and use your best judgment when it comes to subsequent dates. Crazy people are everywhere. You have just as much of a chance meeting the next Charles Manson at the dry cleaner then you do on Plenty of Fish. Use your best judgment and you will be fine. The same advice applies to concerns around the person’s picture/statistics. You are worried they are lying about something. Ask for more information; get some facts before meeting them in public. Be educated and prepared.

Oh and how could I forget…you think that all the candidates online are looking for one thing…sex. Hey, I get it. It makes sense to me and I know I have explained this before. When I was on Match.com, I would get about ten emails a day. The majority of them would say “hey baby, you’re beautiful,” no questions about the content of my profile or how hilarious my tag line was and it was. The subtest of the messages were “I wanna get in your pants.” These fine gentleman did not put forth the effort to have a real conversation which let me know that they most likely were not interested in getting to know me. Again, pluck those suitors out of the running. Weed out the crap and communicate with people that sound like they have something to say.

In the world of online dating you can suspend shyness or your preconceived notion about how dating should work. Ladies, go ahead and “wink”/”poke” a profile that intrigues you. Hell, go on and message them about their profile. This is not 1960, you don’t have to wait for the Sadie Hawkins dance to make your move. You are in charge of your own dating destiny!

Listen, of course, there is going to be disappointment and like with anything, trial and error. Your first couple of dates might be duds, but you will learn better techniques and identifiers for creepiness as you trudge on. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but the fastest way to the light is the train…online dating is the Acela Express* of dating. Toot toot! Get onboard!

*Acela Express = way fast train

Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it is better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together.

Sarah and Jefferson were a seemingly happy couple. In front of friends and family they appeared loving physically and even in their communications. Behind close doors, things were much different; she was being standoffish with him for weeks. He could sense that she was starting to fall out of love with him evidence by long stints of a silent treatment and general avoidance. However, when they were in front of friends or family she would be the opposite. Rubbing his head and cuddling in front of people was the norm when they had an audience. They were living like roommates for months…but in public, it seemed that they were more in love then ever. Even more then just PDAs, she was talking about the future and the holidays his family. She spoke of “when we have kids” etc. Sarah had a whole act going to convince everyone and maybe even herself that she was still in love with Jefferson.

One day Sarah snapped. She moved out of their shared home with enough stuff to last her about a month. She told Jefferson that she needed space but never said that they were breaking up nor did she say that she was moving out. Jefferson did not know what to make of Sarah’s actions. Engagement was on the horizon for him and despite Sarah’s recent mood, he never imagined that she was planning to leave him. Jefferson was utterly distraught and tried to rationalize that Sarah was only going through a phase and thing would return to normal.

Weeks went by and Sarah and Jefferson’s pepper communications regarding joint possessions seemed to seal the fate of the relationship. There was no turning back, things could not be what they once were. Sarah was prepared to leave Jefferson and that chapter of her life behind. Jefferson on the other hand, could no imagine a life without Sarah in it. Ultimately, Sarah decided that she had more life to live and more experiences to have as a single woman.

Here is the advice I rendered to Jefferson:

She [Sarah] wants to act out in independence and she feels that she cannot do that with you in the picture. She has written everyone off and does not care what your friends think. This leads me to believe that she is plotting a total separation. I think that the only reason that she has not come to get her stuff or made a plan is because she is scared. Either scared of another encounter with you (aka her guilt) or scared that if she shuts the door she can never open it again. Either way, I think that it is safe to assume you need to move on. You deserve to go forward and rebuild. If she comes back while you are in that process YOU can decided what you want. Waiting on her is just going to break you down and kill your spirit. For your own sanity, you need to take control. Who knows what a couple months could bring? After time apart you could realize reasons that the situation was bad for you…you never know.

If someone does not want you…maybe, they are the problem. Just saying…

Welcome to Dark Side…

True love is complicated. I am sure you do not need my little blog here to tell you that. If you have ever been in a serious relationship, you understand where I am coming from. Up to this point, I have discussed how things like money, family, and monogamy influence a relationship. Mr. Right and I have had disagreements that span those topics. However, the focus of our most popular argument would most definitely be communication. Come now; let me give you a simple example:

It was a Wednesday somewhere in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Over the weekend, Mr. Right and I had made plans to have dinner with my parents. It was a casual affair where we intended to tell my parents about Ireland and discuss our upcoming wedding. Oh, do not roll your eyes…you know that sounds like great fun! That afternoon I phoned Mr. Right to coordinate our midweek restaurant rendezvous. Mr. Right seemed pensive and flustered. Whatever could be the problem? I coaxed the problem out him. You see, on Monday evening Mr. Right’s brother invited him to a social gathering scheduled for low and behold…Wednesday evening. Mr. Right accepted. He had knowingly committed himself to both events and was only currently realizing the pickle, which he created.

Now, let me just say. The dinner with my parents was far from formal. Had someone been ill, dinner could have been canceled without causing any major life disturbance. Also, as I mentioned the plans hadn’t been made that far in advance. Mr. Right had ample time to suggest an alternate night or time. If Mr. Right rescheduled the dinner on Monday night, I could have chosen to go to dinner with my parents solo or made different plans all together. All I ask is to be informed and nothing gets MB going like a last minute game changer.

Enter my problem. I like things my way. In reality, my way is the right way…so it is only common sense, you agree, right? This is one key reason that Mr. Right did not tell me that there was a change of plans prior to Wednesday. He wanted to avoid confrontation and the undeniable resulting lecture. In his mind, I would have been disappointed when he canceled the impending plans. I would probably launch into a speech about my precious time and the importance of respecting each other’s schedules. On top of that, in his mind, his brother would have felt similarly shafted. Brother would most likely classify Mr. Right as pu$$y whipped or some variation on that theme. It could be equally as unpleasant as my reaction! In Mr. Right’s eyes, it was a loose/loose situation. A “catch 22” if you will, leaving Mr. Right afraid to make a decision.

During our phone call, he began to reason that he could attend both gatherings. Did I mentioned they had the same start time and both involved eating dinner? I was insulted by the afterthought and cared not for his last minute placations. In fact, I had to get off the phone to start writing the lecture I would present him next time we were together. I would entitle it, “How not to Piss off your Fiancé, Lessons in Consideration.” Alas, Mr. Right had driven me off the edge. I was immersed in my own righteousness and dismissed him for the evening. I told him I hoped he enjoys his evening with his brother but in a snarky bitchy way that suggested I really felt otherwise. It was cleansing.

In true Mr. Right fashion, he showed up at the restaurant just as the bill arrived. He was there to apologize and swear up and down that this would not happen again. Of course, he had gone to his brother’s affair and fulfilled his familial commitment. I appreciated the apologetic gesture but reminded him that the last minute cancelation hence my annoyance could have been avoided. It was not that I needed him to be available. The point was, [insert prepared lecture points here], I wanted him to respect my time and give me the courtesy of planning. God, it was hard for me to drop the issue. I imagine it was even harder for Mr. Right to sit through my reiterations of what I perceived as his relationship failures that night.

Overall, the whole thing sounds silly, wouldn’t you say? Mr. Right promised too much to too many and instead of helping him work through his evening’s plan, I took the situation as a personal affront. Mr. Right screwed up and my reaction was to mount my high horse in order to dictate what was wrong with the situation. Mr. Right making two sets of plans was the wrong execution of the right idea. He was coming from a good place. Had I taken the time to consider the facts in their entirety I could have been party to a better resolution.

Do not fly off the handle, it is an easy mistake to make; we are an emotional people. It is hard to be objective when the outcome of the given situation personally affects you. Try to remember an argument may have a winner but your relationship will be the ultimate loser.

Preview…

Up and until this point I have been sharing all the positive good things about Mr. Right and the progression of our relationship. In the beginning, that really was the case…things between us were damn near perfect. Our honeymoon phase lasted a long while and we/are were very much in love. However, like most things in life, reality does set in and there are significant downturns in even the strongest relationships. So, for the sake of objectivity and honestly, I do plan to delve into the dark side…it only seems fair. After all, life is hardly a fairytale and I ain’t no Cinda-freakin-rella.

See you on the relationship flip side ~ MB