Tag: introspection

it happened in a burger king bathroom

For a very long time, I was absolutely certain I did not want children. I had thought it all out, see. I was not the mothering type. I wanted to spend my money on myself. I wanted to travel and have nice things. I proclaimed this loudly and often to anyone who would listen, and I took great pains to get offended when people would kind of shake their heads and say, “You’ll change your mind,” in response.

I was so mellow back then.

And then I entered this period of great ambivalence about childbearing, which I didn’t share with many people. I wasn’t really sure. Maybe I’d have kids. But I definitely did not want to date someone who already had kids. I’d heard horror stories of what a minefield it was to be a stepparent, and I just didn’t even want to deal with that kind of baggage. I wanted a man unspoiled by life, other women, and offspring.

Silly old mellow me.

So now here I am. I’m in love with the man I intend to marry someday, a man who loves me back and intends to marry me too. Weddings are always best when both spouses-to-be agree to show up, right? So I’m in love with this man – this amazing, intelligent, supportive, divorced father of two. Somehow I’m pretty sure he’s still unspoiled.

We waited several months into our relationship before I met the kids. Their stability is really important to both of us, and we wanted to be sure we were serious and in it for the long haul before we introduced them into our lives as a couple. So for the first few months we were dating, he went on his own to see them and I stayed home. When we began making plans for them to spend the first weekend with us, I was terrified.

I wanted desperately to like them and to have them like me back, but I knew there was a very good chance that they might not like me at all. They might even hate me at first, which would be fairly normal and probably not even about me as a person at all, and more about me as their dad’s new girlfriend. I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of a chilly reception and I hoped and hoped we’d have a good time.

And we did. I wrote about it in the spring. We had our moments of awkward tiptoeing and figuring each other out, but no one seemed to hate me and things were fine. I, of course, fell in love with them immediately. We had a couple of other visits and things continued to go pretty well, and I continued to fall in love. And I knew they liked me, and we had fun, but I didn’t know if they loved me and I didn’t expect them to. I’m not their mama, after all. I’m just The Other.

It’s become a little tradition that when we take the kids back after visits, we stop at Burger King. Seth and I have a thing for Mocha Joes and the kids can hit the Playland and it’s a convenient location. Plus it boosts our mood just a little, because though we never let the kids see, we’re always both a little mopey when we’re taking the kids back. So we stop at BK and the first thing we do, of course, is hit the bathroom.

M, age 5, likes to make small talk in public restrooms. One time we were at IHOP and I was waiting outside her stall for her to finish and from her perch on the toilet, she described to me in anatomically correct detail how babies were made. It’s always unpredictable and entertaining and sometimes embarrassing.

So we’re in the bathroom at Burger King and I’m waiting for her and she says, “Hey Lorie, you know what?” I’m kind of only halfway paying attention and I kind of absently say, “What?” and she says, “Did you know I love you?”

I’m almost certain it’s not the first time she told me that, but I think it’s the first time it came out of the blue and it’s definitely the moment I will always remember. It’s not terribly poignant, my little sorta step-girl on the toilet with her feet dangling down telling me she loves me, but ohh. My heart grows a little bit just in the retelling. She doesn’t have to love me, but she does.

It took me a second to respond that I loved her too, of course I did. She finished and we washed her hands and went out to join the rest of the family and the whole time, all I was thinking is, I want to be a mom. I want to be a mom. I want to be a mom.

10 Comments October 15, 2009

they definitely do not call me mellow yellow

For years, I have been functioning under the stunning misconception that I am basically a mellow person. In fact, if I weren’t so lazy, I could probably search in the archives of this very site just a little bit and find several occasions where I described myself in some way that seemed mellow.

If you have ever worked with me, dated me, been related to me, or hell, encountered me on the street, you are probably reading this through tears of laughter and disbelief. You might even have accidentally peed on your chair a little bit because you were laughing so hard. I’ll wait while you go get a towel and change.

You’re back? Oh, good.

So I’m confessing it now: I am not mellow. I am not even a little bit mellow. I am so not mellow, in fact, that I have often been accused of not knowing how to relax. I’ve been told that even when I think I’m relaxed, I’m actually still tense, still unwilling to let go, still afraid to lose control. If you’re like this, you understand. If you’re not, let me tell you: that shit takes a lot of energy to maintain. It really does. But it’s so hard and scary to let go.

Seth and I emailed and IMed each other for a few weeks before we ever met in person, and during one of those conversations, I confessed to him that I didn’t like watching horror movies because I tended to get very upset when people died. Everyone else in the theater would be laughing and cringing at the gore and the absurdity of the whole thing, and I’d be fighting tears and thinking about who was going to make funeral arrangements and clean up the mess and go through the dead person’s things and close bank accounts and stuff. Because no one was thinking about that in the movie and someone should think about it and it really stressed me out.

“Wow,” he said. “Sounds like someone has too much responsibility in her life.” And, you know, he was probably right.

These days, he’s pretty great at identifying times when I need to let go a little bit, but it’s often hard for me to take his advice. He’ll notice I’m in hypermanaging mode about something or other and kind of take me off to the side and say, “Hey. You don’t have to be in charge of this thing. Let someone else figure it out.” And he’s right, sort of, but on the other hand, who am I if I’m not being responsible for everything?

Of course part of me thinks nothing will get done right, if at all, if I don’t oversee it. But probably an even bigger part of the problem is that I’ve allowed it to define me. I am the person who answers the question. I am the person who solves the problem. I am the person who researches the best airfare. I am the person who makes the reservations. I am the person who decides what time we’re leaving and whether we need reservations and if you should wear a jacket. And I resent it sometimes. Sometimes I really, really resent it. But again, how am I useful to you, how am I productive, how will I have value if I let you do those things yourself?

Here are my greatest fears: being perceived as dependent, stupid, or incompetent. I am more worried about other people THINKING those things than I am about actually becoming them. And how stupid is that? I can’t really control what other people think about me no matter how I behave. But still I try. I work my ass off, wipe myself out, expend all of my energy to be sure that others see me as independent, intelligent, and above all else, COMPETENT.

I don’t know if I can stop making those things so important to me, but I do know that I would really like to be able to just relax and turn off my worries and, you know, maybe watch a gory movie once in a while without stressing out so much about who’s going to clean up those brains on the floor.

4 Comments October 14, 2009

sunshine daydreams

So, here’s the thing. I’m supporting Barack Obama, which should be a surprise to exactly none of you. But I really want to tell you why, even though you can read everyone else’s why on everyone else’s blogs. I want to tell you my why.

I want to be someone who surrounds myself with people who challenge and inspire me, in the hopes that I can learn to challenge and inspire others. I want to be the kind of person who accomplishes great things through vision and persistence and creativity and integrity, and I want to learn to be that kind of leader by following others who already have all those qualities.

I’ve never truly been excited about a candidate for any political office before, though I have been pretty consistently voting for Democrats. I voted for Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and John Kerry and Jim Webb. I liked them all well enough. I hoped they would win. I thought they’d all do a good job. Of the four, Mark Warner comes closest to exciting me, and I really do think he’ll make a fine President one day, should he choose that route. But I am really, really excited about the possibilities of a country led by Barack Obama.

Throughout my life I’ve frequently found myself to be the youngest or least experienced member of the crowd. The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome in my career so far is my age. I used to get really frustrated when I’d hear that people really thought I was great but just wished I were a few years older. Though I get down on myself an awful lot, especially lately, I know logically that I have accomplished far more in my 28 years than some others have in their lives, and I’d like to believe my best is still to come. So age and experience? Feh. They mean something, but they don’t mean everything.

The leader I’ll follow does not have to be the most senior in the room, either by age or experience. The leader I’ll follow has to be wise and resourceful enough to look to experience where he is lacking, and to be open and willing to learn. At the very tippity top of the ladder, I believe the very best leaders know how to motivate those under them to be their best, and they surround themselves with experience where it’s needed.

Barack Obama makes me feel hopeful about my own future and the future of my country in a way I haven’t felt for a very long time. I truly believe that our circumstances can improve, that it’s entirely possible for us to look back on these years later and say, “Those were really good years.” I believe that we can do more than we thought possible, and that the right person will guide us to do exactly that. I don’t feel anything of the sort when I think about a country led by John McCain. I’m not afraid or horrified at the thought, but I just think, “…oh.”

In 1961, John F. Kennedy emerged from his greatest public failure to make a bold statement: that we would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. People thought he was nuts. Even though he wouldn’t live to see it happen, we made it happen because he said we could. He was not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination, and he wasn’t a perfect President. But he challenged and inspired us, and we’re better off for it.

The people we respect and love the most through history are the ones who dream big, who take risks, who are willing to fall on their faces in pursuit of an ideal. Those are the people who make great things happen. I believe Barack Obama can be one of those people, and I want to see him try. Really, what do we have to lose?

5 Comments August 26, 2008

time may change me

It’s been a weird year, or year and some months, or something.

I’ve been working on the site tonight, in the hopes that it’ll spur me to make my writing a bigger part of my life, like it used to be. And as a part of tweaking and upgrades and accidentally breaking the entire site and so on, I realized that my last several posts are sporadic and mostly about death and disaster and sad things. And when I add it all up I realize that death and disaster and sad things aren’t all I’ve been experiencing lately, but sometimes it feels that way – especially when death, disaster, and sad things are the only things that spur me to write anymore, it seems. The post I wrote in January still has a lot of relevance to what’s going on with me these days.

I don’t know what’s up with me lately. I am not entirely sure I know who I am. I am having trouble grabbing on to the things that I might use to define myself, and the ones that end up in my hands always seem to be work-related. That’s not so great. Not long ago one of my coworkers made a comment about me being a workaholic, and I don’t think she was being critical, but I am alternately ashamed and proud of the label. Yep, I work a lot. I work my ass off. I work to the point where I feel guilty taking time off that I scheduled, where I hope people will call in sick so I don’t have to deal with them, where not one single person can accuse me of not working hard, and yet I feel like I get nothing done. The days and weeks slip away from me and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything. But hey, I get a 2% raise this year – 1% less than I got last year – so it’s obvious that my employer values the fact that I’m giving them what should be the most vibrant years of my life at a very deep discount.

Originally, when I sat down to write this I was going to tell you a story about a decision I made last summer that meant the almost certain loss of a friendship that sustained me for nearly ten years. Did you follow all that? It was something I agonized over for months, and something that hurt a lot at the time, but was still the right decision. It is still the right decision now. But making that decision, and summoning the courage to deliver it, and living through some challenging months without that friend – all of these have changed me in subtle ways, ways I’m still figuring out. I think that’s all I can say about this now.

In news of the positive, I think I am actually taking a vacation this summer, and when I say vacation I do not mean “grueling trip to stay with and visit friends/family,” which I’ve learned is usually less of a vacation than sitting in my office 12 hours a day. I think my sisters and I are going to go to the beach for about a week, though I am stressing about various weird aspects of the planning process. I think once I get all the plans nailed down I’ll really look forward to it, though. Jamie just graduated from high school, and Ginny just graduated from college, and we’re kind of embarking on a bit of a change in our relationship as sisters, of which this trip will be a part. When we’d fight when we were younger (and we fought all the damn time), my parents would frequently tell us that we should be kind to one another, that no matter what happened, we would always have each other. And you know, my parents have kind of been right. Imagine that.

In a spark of the Lorie you used to know, I would like to share that Sammi calls this new site design the “cartoon vag.” I think “vag” is pretty much a horrible word that I can’t stand to hear or say, but the imagery is enough to make me feel like passing it along to you, to lessen the burning in my own eyes and ears. Before she fixated on the potential nudity in the header, I felt like maybe the woman was relaxing in her bathing suit, or maybe a tank top and shorts. But now I can’t help thinking maybe she’s bare-assed naked except for that hat. Either way, it seems like that’d be a nice place to hang out.

3 Comments June 15, 2008

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