Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's a Man's World

When I thought about writing a post today, I was prepared to write about my latest struggle. Getting  engaged in October brings with it the inevitable truth of taking on the role of a mother. As the time clock for the responsibility of housing and raising a six-year-old that is not mine winds closer and closer to D-day, I find myself stuck between the pull of losing my identity and the newfound responsibilities such a role will bring. The biggest struggle seems to be the child's grandmother. I tried and tried to make her my friend. To be a team during the difficult transition of parenting a child that she had raised since he was a baby. Time after time she has rejected me and through her own struggles, has made this road bumpier than it perhaps needs to be.

As I hopped in the shower and prepared everything in my mind in order to sit down and let loose on my keyboard after I was finished, I asked myself who was your favorite mother out of everyone you have dated? Hmmmm...I was stumped. I wasn't really that close with any of them. In fact, I had always felt more comfortable around the fathers of said "boyfriend-at-the-time" than I ever did with their mothers. With this realization I started to question whether I am the problem with my inability to have a relationship with the women who share my men. Why the hell is that? What is wrong with me?

After my self-analizing shower time, I thought about how women work based on my own brain and emotions. Women are each others worst critics. From the way we run our households to the way we wear our hair, we pick each other apart constantly. Being very aware of myself makes me very conscious of how other women perceive me. Especially if I have any bit of respect for them. On a daily basis I worry about my house being cleaned, my bills getting paid, what we will have for dinner, if I have gas in my car, and when I will be able to get my work done without distraction. Add on top of that my worries for other people. Will my fiance need to find another job soon? Is my friend ok in the relationship she in? Is my other friend handling her work stress ok? Is my mother ever going to retire? Will my soon to be step-son be ok going to a city school? Will he be ok going to a camp? Is my fiance's mother ever going to accept me?

That's a lot to put on yourself. So if I put all of that on myself, is it possible that every other woman does the same thing? Maybe the reason I won't let myself become close with the mother of anyone I've ever been with is because I am so worried about them criticizing me that I clam up and don't know how to let go and just be me. I'm so worried about doing everything perfectly as to prove that I am good enough for their son that I end up shying away from any chance of a relationship I may have with them.

Men are easy. They can hand you a beer and talk about the latest movie they watched and not give a shit if your outfit matches. They don't care that you've gained a bit of weight and you can talk about jujitsu to them all night long. This lack of insecurity around fathers is what has drawn me to them. I feel much more comfortable talking about the news (which I do not watch or read and have no idea what's going on in the world) than I do helping mom in the kitchen. What will we talk about? Gasp! 

This realization about myself this morning may not change my relationship with my fiance's mother, but it does make me understand myself a little bit better. Maybe it will help me lay off of women who seem to warm up to men faster and stop acting like they are being disrespectful. Maybe I'll be able to catch myself as I start to clam up around his mother, start being myself, and stop worrying so much about how I am perceived.

Who knows how this will pan out. I have a long road ahead of me. I do, however, need to remind myself that I am not perfect and I shouldn't have to pretend I am because at the end of the day, every other woman on earth is likely struggling with the same worries that I am. Time to give them a break too.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes

It has been quite a while since I have written a post and to say a lot has changed would be an understatement. My intention was to write a new post on New Year's Day, so let's pretend I stopped being busy, lazy, (fill in blank excuse) and actually posted as intended. Mental flashback to New Year's 2013—I was ringing in the New Year with a handful of friends in my Man Cave. For those who do not know me, that's code for my basement and was coined "The Man Cave" because I didn't see the need to have a man in order to call my basement what every man on earth calls the space they use to get away from it all. I had just ended a whirl wind of a horrible relationship. If you can recall from earlier desperate and depressing posts, ours was one that sucked the life from every inch of my soul. There were days that we were happy, but the games we played, lack of communication and trust, and overall difference in lifestyles and maturity levels, finally cleared up the fact that we were just not meant to be. So out with the old and in with the new happened at the drop of the ball on the very first second of 2013.

In he walks. I never understood how so many people that I know end up with people from their past. It's usually someone they went to school with but never really talked to or someone who was friends with their brother, etc. The idea of overlooking the person who you fall in love with being right there under your nose years prior without your knowledge seemed like a cheesy, vomit inducing fairytale. I guess sometimes things do work out that way. It happened to me. On that very second of 2013, I was locking lips with the person I had met ten years prior in college and who I will share the rest of my life with.

Since then, my life has taken a full on turn. I look back and can visualize a fork in the road with one road being covered in dead, overgrown thorns and the other filled with colorful blooms and bright green grass. Yes, cheesy and vomit inducing but it's true! I have learned to live without being fearful of the person I'm with leaving me or hurting me. If I want to know what he is thinking, all I have to do is ask because I know he will be honest. I don't have have to worry what he is up to when I am not around or what state he'll be in when he comes home or if he will even come home. I don't have to wonder if he loves me or thinks I'm pretty because he tells me several times a day. After so many years of struggling through one-sided relationships that just weren't right, one finally stuck.

This year we celebrated the New Year—our one year anniversary—by enjoying a night out together and reminiscing about one of the best years of our lives. The year that we found each other, again. I wouldn't trade that year for the world. We fell in love, purchased kayaks and traveled down rivers, saw more live music than I can even count, celebrated birthdays and every single first holiday together, played in the sand, laughed, cried, and got engaged. I truly hope 2014 is just as magical.

You have to understand that I never thought these things could happen to me. I was so programmed to just take what was in front of me and make the best of it, that misery became an expected house guest. For anyone who has struggled or is currently struggling in love, my advise to you would be not to give up hope that the person who is right for you is out there and that life is too short to let misery take the wheel. Do not exhaust yourself on relationships that suck the joy from you. In the words of my dear friend, "enjoy more and endure less." Life occasionally takes turns when you least expect it.

Cheers to 2014. May it bring adventure, growth, and love.

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day, It's a New Life

The end of 2012 also brought the end of the saga that was my relationship with my boyfriend. After spending the past three and a half years of my life trying to make him be someone who he's not and would never be, I am certain this is the complete and total demise of us as a couple. Although we ended abruptly and with a whirlwind of hurt, looking back on it I realize now that it had been a long time coming.

Coincidentally, my dear friend finished up her final piece on online dating and in reading the feature which has easily become one of my favorite works from her, it made me reflect on my own relationships. In her article she talks about everyone stemming from their past and how it ultimately tangles with their future and in turn the future of the person they are with. This was abundantly obvious in my relationship with my ex. There were hurdles that he clung onto and never quite got over or dealt with. The ironic thing about it is that he expected me to get over his past, trust in his actions, and accept him for who he is, yet he never did any of those things for himself. He couldn't own up to himself so how could he expect that from someone else?

Moving on with a clear head for me means loving and respecting myself more. My New Year's resolution was to have more confidence in myself. I tend to put confidence and encouragement into other people yet I let myself get stepped on often for the sake of not hurting others. A recent tag on a Yogi tea bag summed it up well. "May you have faith in your worth and act with wisdom." It is now taped to my computer as a daily reminder of my pending confidence. I now make promises to myself. As my friend states in her article, "the one person I need to fall in love with is myself." And I do. Perhaps after wrapping myself up in my relationship, intertwining his problems with mine, and lessening my worth, I forgot about loving myself. It's not that I don't or didn't, but it got swept under the rug in order to help someone who in the end rejected me. I didn't act with wisdom.

In turning a new leaf, I'm hopeful that this year will bring plenty of soul searching, adventures with a cute boy, long soft kisses, laughter with friends, hard work and beautiful designs, and happiness. I'm happy and I'm free. I am the only me there is and whether or not love is in the cards, I promise to love myself.

Monday, November 12, 2012

This is My Home and I Have to Protect It

"This is my home and I have to protect it."
~McCaully Calkin as Kevin in "Home Alone"

I have always loved that line. When times get tough and I am forced to be responsible for a household that I was basically forced to take over, that line rings in my head.

Recently my roommate moved out. Hopefully the last roommate I will ever have. With it brought a lot of emotions that I was neither expecting or prepared for. As he was moving things out of his room and into his mother's minivan, I was sitting in my room crying. At the time I wasn't quite sure why. I had been anticipating the moment for a while. I would finally have my house to myself and would no longer get frustrated at having to clean up after someone or purchase yet another roll of toilet paper or tube of toothpaste with no recognition, thanks, or help from someone else. It wasn't even the fact that am praying for my refinance to go through so I could actually afford to live without someone occupying my home. It finally hit me. I was crying because now I am truly alone.

As I have gotten older, watching friends get married and settle down and start families, has become increasingly difficult. It's certainly not that I want to walk down the aisle tomorrow or pop out a baby anytime soon, I just want that possibility to be in my future and honestly right now it is not. Like not even in the near future. That is a scary thought. Yes my biological clock is ticking. Not necessarily to have children, but to have the security of someone who loves me to fall asleep with me every night and to commit to me. I want that level of commitment.

But alas, I don't foresee that in my future. Not my near future anyway. So I guess that right now the struggle has become how long I am willing to wait. How long before you give up on someone or something that is important to you?

With my new-found "empty nest" syndrome, I'm trying to focus on me. On the positive. I can have an office in my empty room. I can rest assure that the dishes in the sink are my own. I can pee with the bathroom door open. This is my house and I have to protect it. At the end of the day, today, I am cranking up Otis Redding radio on Pandora, dancing around the house with a glass of red wine, and making tacos for my boyfriend. Maybe that's all he'll ever be, but for now, I'm just gonna do me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You Have No Power Over Me

No words today. Just a relationship dynamic that is oh so fitting at the moment.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Babies in Bars

I am a 32 year old woman who is not only not married but babyless. Due to the toxically fertile water in Lancaster County (and apparent lack of birth control), for someone my age to not have pushed out a few by now is a rarity. The older I get, the more friends I lose to the baby bug. Which also means more excruciatingly painful baby showers to attend where my homemade quilt that took twenty hours to sew is shoved under a pile of fabricated plastic whatsamajigs which are apparently now necessary for human survival.

It's not that I'm not happy for my friends. I am. It is just becoming harder to relate to them and harder to visit them without tripping over the millions of matchbox cars that threw up all over their living room floor. Which once was a conversation about weekend plans to go to concerts is now shadowed by which TV show their child is totally into this week. I must give them credit though. My 30-something friends who have recently dove into motherhood also happen to strike a balance between fun and the responsibility of raising a family. The "fun" part has toned itself down from shouting drunkenly at the local bar, to casually sipping wine in their backyard after the kiddos have been put down for the night.

I may be making myself sound like a child hating a-hole. I don't hate children per say, I just like to return them to their proper owner at the end of the day and continue with my successful life of doing whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want. Five minutes in a store with a screaming child is enough for my uterus to shrivel up inside my body, slam the door shut, and put itself under lock and key. Clearly I am not ready to be a parent and I am dealing with the fact that I may never be.

Motherhood may be your life, but it isn't mine. Ah finally getting to my point. Because I am and choose to be sans baby, I venture out to bars to unwind and have determined that BARS ARE NO PLACE FOR CHILDREN. There is no buzz kill greater then sipping on a cocktail after a long day, celebration, or get together with friends then to experience toddlers playing tag around the barstools. Do you really want to expose your child to what they have to look forward to when they are 21, broke, and trying to score with the random hoochie mama who is ordering a round of red headed sluts? I know that the conversations that I have when I'm tipsy should never ever fall on the ears of the innocent.

The other night I was out celebrating the success of a job with a bunch of friends and coworkers. I stumbled in my heals to the restroom to relieve myself after drinking a plethora of alcoholic concoctions only to find a mother changing her one year old male child on the provided board in the ladies room. I ignored it and found a stall. The changing of the baby was also a commentary on every little shake of the powder and as she was finishing, the child stood up and shouted "I'm naked!" Really? She laughed it off and I cringed. Why is your baby in a bar? Us single, childless bar goers do not need a play by play of what goes on nor do we need to even attempt to be proper as we're staggering our way back to our barstool. Take your child home, put on Sprout, and enjoy your beer in your own backyard. Leave the bars to us who chose not to drink that damn fertile water.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shooting for the Underdog

I'm going to play the serious career girl card for a moment. Today's topic is brought to you by an art director. I could safely say that I may be a better art/creative director then an actual designer for many reasons. Throughout my career as such, I have been asked from people in the business and some not so much if I have worked with [insert known photographer here]. My response is usually 'NO' and I have reason to back it up.

Simply put, I shoot for the underdog. I actively search for creatives like myself. Those who may have not had the dazzling success of some who have the funds to purchase the latest and greatest equipment or ability to get their name out there. I tend to challenge myself by hiring those who are devoted to the art of photography. Those who do it for the love of it. Who's photographic eye shines through even in their family snap shots. I can smell talent from a mile away and invite these "underdogs" to play my game. To step into my world and better my cause of presenting Lancaster with fresh creative material by showing me what they've got. I never stop challenging myself and I want to challenge them as well.

Most of being successful is pretending you already are. I'm not going to lie, in my current job, we make it up as we go...learning and adapting with every step. Although this way of work does not come easy for some, it does allow a certain amount of creative freedom that would be hard pressed to find at a stuffy 9-5. We fake it but "at the end of the day" we love what we do because we do what we want.

That is what drawls me to those starting out. They are not tarnished by the name they made for themselves. They look through the lens without fear and expectations from others. It's almost childlike if you stop and think about it. I was told during art school that children are nearly the only people who have the ability to make art freely without the fear of rejection and judgement. I think it may be what holds back those career photographers. They have something on the line. They shoot weddings not because they necessarily want to but because it pays the bills. The great thing about where I work is that you will never make a career out of it as our staff photographer. That may sound horrible but thinking about it, that's actually a blessing to me.

I would never hire someone looking for a paycheck. I want to hire someone who has that childlike innocence. Who picks up a camera because they love what they produce. Because these individuals expect nothing more than a photo credit in print to show their friends and gloat to their families, they do the absolute best job they can do. They are nervous, jittery, eager to please, and grateful for the opportunity I have given them and I love them for it.