Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Ex Factor, Round 2

So this really funny thing happened to me last night..

My mentor once told me to write the things out that happen, if nothing else it’s therapeutic. Let’s test the waters--

Tuesday was unfolding in the same way it does almost each week. Allow me to walk you through it. I woke-showered-dressed, packed my gypsy bag including, but not limited to: laptop, multiple binders/books for class, work folders and documents, face wash/makeup, and gym clothes.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I change in my car and random bathrooms so much I might as well be a superhero.

I go to work and get a lot of stuff accomplished. I have my first presentation on Friday at the Team meeting of my most recent undertaking, and by the end of the work day yesterday I had almost everything researched, filed away and ready to go- one less thing to worry about.

In between work and class I ventured to my favorite side of Charlotte: Plaza-Midwood, and to my own heaven on earth: the used book store.

Afterwards I settled in at Blu Basil café in a corner booth with a book and relaxed. Later that night, class was interesting, and I turned in the first paper for that particular class. So far, yesterday was a smooth success, but not everything is as it seems—am I right?

So this is the point in my very personal account that I should probably break to inform you of a little background story, general housekeeping and what not.

First things first, I’m a hypocrite. A total hypocrite in every sense of the “I don’t practice what I preach” way. I say it time and time again, and I accept and agree each time I hear it--but no matter how many times I utter the words I can’t seem to comply.

Remaining friends with an ex is unjustifiably, excruciatingly, absolutely and utterly a bad idea.

Yet, I’m notorious for the trial and the error. If you’re thinking it’s a possibility: learn from my very amusing and epic failure. However, true to form I’ve stayed friends with my more recent ex for some time. I wish I could tell you that this relationship of mine ended in good terms, and if you consider a few slammed doors and harsh words-good terms then yeah, sure. All things considered, it could have always been much, much worse. I digress—

What’s more I wish I could tell you that our new found friendship was simple and fun, but this wasn’t always the case. Our relationship was like a train track, one minute we’re trucking along on course and suddenly we need to change direction. There is a switch and the conductor pulls and we abruptly switch gears going along the romantic route to the platonic path; unfortunately for us the platonic track is missing a few bolts and screws.

So post-break up we’re rolling on for the most part pretty on course, until I get a little busier. Now as my boyfriend the ex had a lot of my attention, but in the aftermath -a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. When the smoke cleared, I had a new internship, two new research assignments, school and work to boot. The more I did, the less time I could sacrifice, and my ex/new friend felt neglected.

In the midst of it all, we have a new story which I can’t divulge too many details. It’s the timeless story of guy meets girl. Myself being the girl, the guy..well that’s for me to know;) Yet we live in the modern-day era where advancement kills the above tale. You see, my guy meets girl story also included: other girl.

I don’t get it, this is my story right? Who is casting all these characters? I’ll never know, but as it happens, other girl has strong crush on guy and other girl dislikes girl (or me). Man I’m confusing myself. Ultimately my romantic “guy meets girl” fairy tale is more like a short story, and life as I know it returns to all business. Not a bad thing, until you consider other girl. Henceforth we’ll call her, “Bruised Ego.”

Meanwhile my Neglected Ex was undertaking his own new projects. Sometimes life is messy, we all get it, but when this guy of mine began to feel the world’s pressure he caved, and landed himself in the crosshairs of an intoxicated dilemma.

I don’t have to divulge much to tell you my concern, and things in my life started taking a back seat. My writing, for one; add school to the list. No matter what I did or said, there was no getting through to this one. It’s the re-occurring theme in my own story: I never know when to let go.

Enough background, back to Tuesday, after class I was gym bound and I started getting texts from friends. Turns out my mess of an ex believes the weekend starts on Tuesday. With others worried, I debated. What does one do? Let the ex wallow in self-destruction, self-pity? Or intervene?

I get in my car and turn down that once familiar street.

I knock, no answer, but since we share custody of a dog that I let out and feed often, along with the house sitting I do for this friend of mine, in I go. I half expected this drunken mess of mine to be passed out on the couch. In my mind I’m thinking of this serious intervention we’re about to have based on a very troubling conversation we had not 24 hours prior. The TV was blaring, but this Neglected Ex of mine wasn’t interested.

We’ll call it Neglected Ex meets Bruised Ego. Oh the irony

Talk about walking into the fire. Fire of passion that is, and awkwardly I stepped over Bruised Ego’s bra and clothing which was strung over my poor pup’s crate straight to the garage, Neglected Ex right on my toes sans anything but underwear.

Standing in the garage at midnight on a Tuesday night donning my gym clothes, hair in a ponytail, ankle brace, and holding only my car keys-looking up at my highly intoxicated mess of an ex, stripped bare (literally) of all dignity—and I couldn’t help it. I laughed, hysterically.

As I write this, I’m still laughing. Poor guy looked as shaken up as any I’ve seen. Meanwhile Bruised Ego sits awkwardly upstairs, waiting. First and last time I’m ever the uninvited guest.

What’s more, what if I killed it for the two of them? Let us all hope that my surprise arrival didn’t completely throw them off.

So Tuesday, any old day: get up, go to work, eat a few meals, go to class, and gym trip followed by surprise intervention gone horribly wrong. There is a lesson in all this, who am I kidding there are a few..

Call first.
Friends with an ex: bad call
Karma, it’s for real.

The Score:

Jordan: 1

Bruised Ego: 1

Neglected Ex: -2

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Drives You?

“Expression and the right to express is vital, anyone can be artistic.”
-Kurt Cobain

It was during the application stages of grad school that I was obligated to draw up my own personal teaching philosophy to accompany my application into the hands of the admissions committee. Bear in mind that my idea of teaching requires University level classrooms-only; even still my philosophy was anything but conventional, and the quote above: my opening line.

I’m sure when the admissions committee read my ten page declaration of my teaching strategies, all streaming from the words of the Grunge Era’s casualty, they didn’t know what to make of it—or me. I can imagine they were utterly perplexed, but probably not as shocked as they were the day they called me in for an interview. They seemed to expect a “rebel without a cause” fully equipped with torn blue jeans, grungy hair, leather jacket, maybe some chains--instead that got me: one twenty something donning a pink seersucker dress accompanied with Jack Rogers and pearls; but I had a point to make. A method to my madness, so to speak, but I won’t bore you with the details.

In a nut shell, I think Cobain had it exactly right. He gave rise to the notion that art has this ability to live in a variety of forms. Every single one of us is artistic; it’s all in how you utilize it. You just gotta find your niche.

So this brings me to today, I’m sitting in Mcalister’s Deli at UNCC half-working, half-tweeting. On a side note, Twitter is such a profound concept, and I’m speaking on the “I used to be a hater” front. Turns out I was totally wrong. Twitter is fascinating, and as I sat here and received status update after status update I began thinking about my life; and more specifically, the people in it.

There is something inside me that is drawn to productive people. Call it oldest child-syndrome, call it mega-bitch, call it what you will- but I can’t fathom living life with no goal or ambition. I have absolutely no patience for people just coasting through. So naturally, I surround myself with the other type of people: the go-getters.

My friends are creative, unique, innovative--  my friends are inspired.

I get a glimpse of this every single day. Not always do I acknowledge it, but the people in my life are the push I need, and it’s ironic to me that it isn’t the words of encouragement they offer necessarily, but more their actions become motivation. Is productivity contagious?

I relished in this today while I began formulating questions to ask a co-worker of mine, Sarah, about the interior design work she does when she’s not bartending at two of Charlotte’s well-known spots. I’m testing the waters of Nightlife Profile write-ups for Creative Loafing. So naturally Sarah’s bartending will come up, but what I really want to dig into is her passion on the side. I first mentioned the idea of the profile to Sarah and she seemed pretty excited and open to talk about her fervor for design. She began describing a piece of furniture she was working on at the moment.

She elaborated on the type of fabric she had found, and how she knew right away how perfect a fit it was. Being the farthest thing from guru of interior design (my roommate can vouch), I can’t say I share Sarah’s passion for fabrics and décor. Yet, I did take mental note of the way her face lit up when illustrating her ideas. She had this very animated glow to her when recounting how she executed those ideas. It was a breath of fresh air. Look for Sarah’s profile to follow soon.

Then as I was leaving my office I got a call from my roommate, Jared. On his day off he had ventured to the NC Music Factory to look into new venues for his summer calendar. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jared’s music- you should be. He is one of the more passionate people I’ve ever known. Eight years ago Jared taught himself how to play the guitar, and eight years later he’s added the harmonica and piano to his music. I can’t say I know of many people more dedicated and motivated than Jared. Although I currently reside in a recording studio, leaping over speakers, microphones, guitars, etc. etc. on my way out the door every morning: it’s the most worthwhile thing to come home to at the end of a long day.

Jared and I have two very different projects we want to accomplish in life, and yet, in a weird way we are one in the same. While I’m writing shorts and stories, he’s writing music; and inside all that we’re both working on bigger plans. Like most roommates at night we relay the events of the day to each other. We vent, we brag, we feed ideas off of each other. It is the perfect set-up for two people vying for our place in this great big world.

These are just two examples of what I’m talking about. When I lay out the foremost people in my life I see a variety of individuals with distinctive traits, and yet they are connected by one prevailing characteristic: drive.

Think about it- you only live once, right? Our friends are very much mirror images of ourselves, so look next to you. What do you see? My own mentor, Brittney Cason, is in the final stages of her first book. See what I’m saying? She had a goal, and she stuck to it allowing nothing to get in her way. It is unbelievably inspiring. Surround yourself with people that make you want more, with people who make you so enthusiastic you could burst.

The world is yours for the taking. Ask yourself, what pushes you?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Little Coffee Shop Therapy..

Sometimes, a girl just needs to vent.

The winding road of life is overflowing with ambiguity, and along the way one may meet the occasional speed bump. These interruptions, no matter how minor, tend to eat away until the inevitable happens: an explosion; but who better to tackle the role of listener than a friend?

My thoughts exactly, but while we’re listening to the grievances of others, is not our first instinct to offer advice? On Monday, upon the recommendation of Kim at Creative Loafing, I ventured to Jackson’s Java mid-day for a break. I was in between work and a study session and wanted a place to go to do a little reading for pleasure. Since these days those moments are rare, I picked a quiet couch in the back and descended into some Stieg Larson. Unfortunately, a few tables over were two delightful young ladies who weren’t having it.

From what I could gather, the two were good, and possibly old, friends. The conversation bordered on the more hostile side with voices raised much higher than the standard “coffee shop” volume, and no matter how hard I tried to get some reading done, I couldn’t help overhearing their very loud and overbearing conversation.

One was doing a substantial amount of the talking, while the other acting as the listener; yet, it was evident that these were not the original functions of each. Bear with me, I do not condone the act of eavesdropping, but in this rather tyrannical exchange, there was no way around it. Of course the situation itself, or the background, was completely foreign to me, but from what I gathered the young lady listening seemed to be carrying some sort of burden and the imperious voice of reason took the form of the friend directly across the table.

What I heard next wasn’t pleasant. The unruly voice delivered her friend a one-two punch disguised as indulgent advice. With raised voice she expressed how childish the other was acting and how imperative it was that she get over whatever it was that was ailing her. When she evoked tears she began aggressively questioning“what good comes from crying?”

Then my favorite: “I know what you’re going through.”

The “I’ve been there” line: final attempt to console someone, or bragging rights?

I don’t know, you tell me. What I do know is that whatever awful thing was going on in this distressed woman’s world, rest assured her present company of a friend had already met, battled, and defeated it; living to tell it as a saving grace to her friend and all eleven of us spectators in one coffee shop.

As this tirade went on I couldn’t help but look around me at the other people with their laptops, books, and binders spread out in front of them. One guy looked utterly annoyed, another disgusted; and then there were the few hiding their smirks behind books. I joined the latter group, unable to conceal my amusement.

The scene this dedicated friend was making was interesting in more than one way. Despite the muffled snorting and giggling, one couldn’t help but watch the troubled young lady, and it was painful. Her face painted with a mix of vulnerability and deficiency. In a very public and humiliating way her friend had exposed her as the injured party. When she sought advice was tough love the expected result?

Naturally I began privately considering conversations my friends and I have regarding our own personal complaints. Advice is one thing, but there seems to be a proper place for it, so why is it that we feel the need to step in and solve anyone and everyone else’s problems?

Sometimes a girl just needs to vent. Personally, when I vent I’m not looking for the necessary answer, at times I just want it out in the system somehow-someway. Yet, when the roles are reversed I’m very susceptible to playing the “therapist” card, and as I watched this particular confrontation escalate between friends I became slightly uncomfortable.

I thought, “is that the way I treat the problems of my friends?” So I do it in a not so vocal way , but doing it less harsh doesn’t make it any healthier. Perhaps the highway of life does need to detour onto a one-way street every now and then; maybe the scenery is better?

So when do we do ourselves and friends the favor of just shutting-up and listening to the words instead of waiting for our turn to interject? Despite the fact I practice it from time to time, the tough love mentality is lethal. Maybe it's time we buried it.

On a final note, Jackson’s Java was wonderful. I can’t believe I had never heard of it! Thanks to Kim for allowing me to uncover this hidden gem.