Friday, December 5, 2014

Frowning Popes

I'm going to take a little break here from the pity party I've been throwing myself to regale you with a tale of an epic battle for women's rights. 

A few months ago, K joined a pool league at the local Knights of Columbus. Our neighbor is running it, and we thought it would be a fun Thursday night activity with cheap beer. The place looks like my childhood home's finished basement, carpeted poles and all. Also, there are lots of pictures of popes on the walls.

I am one of two women who show up to this sausage fest; the other is a wife of one of the other players. We give each other the quintessential vagina nod when we see each other. Hey, you have one, TOO! 

Last Thursday, K's team was short two players. They all take this league pretty seriously, so they were pissed that they were going to have to forfeit. Naturally, I raised my hand and offered to sub. 

Suddenly, the room started moving in slow motion as each man's eyes lit up with fear. They glanced at me in horror, then back to each other. Arms were crossed, feet shuffled. I slowly lowered my hand and glanced around the room. Did someone just walk in with a gun? 

One man spoke up: "oh, I don't know. This is a MEN'S league. We don't allow women to play."

Good thing I'd had a few beers and no fucks left to give. I put my hair up in a ponytail and turned to the guy to my right, a jolly guy who would be my first opponent. "Did you know we can even VOTE now, too?" He laughed nervously, then turned away. I could not believe what was transpiring. Was the alternative of forfeitting the game really a better option than letting a GIRL play? 

Finally, a progressive jokester and my new personal confidant, Jeff, spoke up with a courtesy laugh at my bold joke: "Listen to that! Can you hear the roof shaking?" We shared a giggle, and I turned to him with grateful eyes, thankful to have someone else recognize the ridiculousness of this situation. 

Grudgingly, I was allowed to play. The room stopped and stared as I got up from the bar to start my first game. Some people were curious, some were downright angry. The popes frowned in fury. 

In the end, I lost two games, but won the last--I have never been prouder. 

As an interesting afternote: the legitimacy of this game is still being debated by the elders. This is not a joke. They are in the process of determining whether or not to count my game... because I have a vagina. STUNNING. I bravely returned last night mostly out of curiousity. (Plus, the cheap beers.) It really is amazing who cares and who doesn't. And to be fair, there are a handful of the guys who totally back me and think it's funny, too. I like to think of them as the Frederick Douglasses to my Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

On the walk home, I turned to K. 
"Ow!" I said, rubbing my head. 
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I think I hurt my head when I jumped through that glass ceiling."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Game Genie

Apparently, people go to Walmart for two things: to punch each other over $30 TVs, and to heal relationships. My experience was, thankfully, the latter. 

We had just loaded the car with many bags of goodies for Thanksgiving dinner, which we host with both of our families each year. Happy to have made it out alive and with minimal injuries, we were driving home. I'm not even really sure how the conversation started, but we started talking about getting married/having babies, and K turned to me and said: I just have seen a change in you lately. You seem so sad and it seems like a bitterness has just settled inside of you. It's not like you to not be able to be happy for your friends. He said, I need you to know that I am ready for all of these things, marriage, babies, everything. But I'm afraid it's not going to fill the hole inside of you. I'm afraid you'll get all of those things and it won't be enough, because someone else will always have something more. He said, I want you to be happy with our life now, before we're engaged, and to be happy for our friends. Because that's what life is all about. In true nerd fashion, he likened our engagement to a video game. "It's like when you're trying to get to beat Mario 3 and you can't get past that damn warship. You try and try, so frustrated, and when you finally plug that Game Genie in and beat it, you just feel like... FINALLY. Not like... YAY!" 

I froze in my seat, unable to speak. Never in my life had someone besides my sister been able to so acutely recognize what was going on inside of me. I felt astonishment over everything else, that he was able to see what was happening to me. And everything he said was with love, not out of frustration or anger. It was with a kindness and an ability to view my heart and circumstances existentially, without bringing in his personal feelings. Which I can't imagine is an easy thing to do, when the two things I want most in this world directly involve him. 

I just looked at him, tears welling in my eyes. And for the first time I realized how my feelings have been affecting other people. It felt like someone had shined a light into my heart and exposed all of the awful feelings in there. But it was like a release occurred, and I was suddenly able to see the situation from the outside a little bit. 

We talked in depth for a few hours, and even though my face was puffy from crying, I felt hope for the first time in awhile. Not for getting married, or achieving any of these things that I've pinned my future happiness to, but for choosing the right partner who is able to see me, and help me out of this hole I've dug myself into. Which I'm sure will happen many more times for each other over the course of our lives together. And over this weekend, with both of our families in our house, I had several moments where I stopped talking and just felt a wave of overwhelming affection for everyone... and I started to feel like the old me again. I still have work to do, for sure. I see many yoga classes in my future. But I think this is a very good start. Maybe I just needed someone to recognize what I was going through, and validate it. Maybe it was just that I needed HIM to recognize and validate me. But whatever the case, I know more certainly than ever now, that I've chosen the right person for me. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Exclamation Points and Smiley Faces

It's hard to put into words; sometimes it just creeps up on me. I realized it this week when I downloaded that TimeHop app. It's supposed to be fun! And show you all of the interesting things you did three years ago! But instead, it made me realize how many more exclamation points and smiley faces I used to use in my status updates, which started me thinking about how long I've really been feeling down for. Which is about three years, if I'm being honest.

I'm not going to call it depression. Because there are people who have experience this on a debilitating level and can't get out of bed in the morning. It's not that bad.

I'd call it more of a cloud that follows me around most days. Like that Skittles commercial, where that old lady gets random candy showers on an hourly basis. Only way less fun and delicious.

I'm not fully sure why I feel the way I do, but the reason I'm sharing it is in hopes that someone else has felt the same way. Maybe by verbalizing it, I can let it go a little bit.

I turned 30 in February, and it was honestly the worst birthday. Not the birthday celebration itself, just the sudden existentialist hurricane it threw me into. I'm not married or pregnant. I don't have a fun new important job with a VP title, and I'm not running any marathons. But it seems like everyone around me IS.

I quit Facebook for awhile; that seemed to help. I just couldn't take the status updates anymore. It was all brag brag brag, and nobody else seems to be dealing with any type of hardships. Just smiling faces and engagement rings and kissing brides and blossoming bellies.

This year, we had "bring your child to work day." I worked from home. It just made me so sad to be around them. I actually cried that morning, which was the first time I realized I felt so empty. I'm not always that sad around babies, but I am sometimes. It varies from day to day.

Don't get me wrong, I know babies aren't bandaids. And we don't even NEED a bandaid. My relationship with K is great, save for the turtle-like pace he's been keeping with putting a ring on my finger. We've talked about it openly a few times since the Montana trip, and I know we're heading there. We've even talked about how we're getting ready to have kids in the next few years. All good stuff. Tonight he's sewing my Halloween costume for our party this weekend. Our day-to-day is good.

So I don't mean to put this on him as if the reason for my melancholy is solely tied to his reluctance to engage. Also, I'd like to think of myself as the kind of person who takes charge of her own happiness and doesn't put it in someone else's hands. Anyone's hands, including that of my future children. It's up to me to make myself happy.

Not all days are bad. Some are exceptionally good. I just feel like I don't smile as bright as I used to these days. And I'd like to fix that. So I think I'll go back to yoga, and read more. And hope that by putting my feelings into words and sending them out into cyberspace, I'll be able to let it go a little bit.

The good news is turning forty should be a BREEZE.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Free Porn

There I was, hiding from my neighbor behind the oranges in the grocery store. That sonofabitch was right in front of the tofu, but I had to leave it behind for the sake of my pride. 

Be careful in a small town, they said. Don't piss off your neighbors, they said.

Rewind three weeks earlier to the town-wide yard sale, where K and I were unabashedly selling our belongings on the front lawn: purses, dishes, and X-Box games included. We decided to make a day of it and drank beer while we were doing it. 

Neighbors came and went, huffing at three dollars for unused aerobic stairs. After a few hours, we marked almost everything "FREE" and were resigned to leaving it at the curb. So we were more than thrilled when the minister, his wife, and their five children stopped by, exuberant over the video games. They wanted one each, and K generously offered for them to only pay for one and take the others. 

After all, it pays to be kind to your neighbors. 

Fifteen minutes later, we were swigging down the last of our beers and dragging the rest of the unsold items to the curb, when we saw the minister's wife coming across the lawn, game in hand. 

Immediately, I had a bad feeling. 

"We got a bonus disc!" She remarked amusedly. I couldn't read her expression. 

"Oh no." I exclaimed in disbelief. "Bad? Or good? What is it?" 

She proudly handed over a Hustler DVD that I had never seen before. My face blanched. Now, I am no prude--to each their own in the boudoir. But this disc was new to me. I was rendered speechless. I looked over at K, who looked as shocked as I felt. In the five years that we've been together, I've NEVER once seen him embarrassed. He is generally cool as a cucumber, calm in every situation, dryly sarcastic. But there was nothing funny about this situation.

"My son popped in the disc to play the game, and luckily we caught it in time!" She said, in good humor. "Kids these days, you never know what they know about! Did you know there's even a thing called PONY PORN?" 

Still speechless, I pushed my glass of beer behind the box of unsold books, in an effort to appear somewhat responsible. I shook my head silently. 

"Well I just had to come over and tell you guys--good thing it was US, and not somebody else!" She walked away, laughing, and we did our best to join in her amusement. When she was gone, we just looked at each other. I asked K where it had come from, and he said he had no idea. Which I believe, because if we had known we'd had it, we would have watched it. I mean... it was from the 80s! Fun for the whole family. But alas, K had snapped the disk in half in a show of defiance and pride. 

Which lead me to my current position in the produce aisle, in the ONE grocery store in town, hiding behind the navel oranges, gazing longingly for the tofu that would have to wait for another shopping trip. I'm sure he saw me, but I couldn't even bring myself to give a courtesy wave. 

I guess what they say is true... be careful what you do in a small town. There's no escape, everyone knows everyone and everyTHING. We've been working SO hard for the last four years to gain some street cred in a town where people have lived their entire lives. I guess we gained more than we anticipated. 

I may have to invest in a nose-and-glasses disguise.