Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Am I in an Abusive Relationship?

We fight, I cry, we make up.
I get pummeled, and I go running right back into trouble, face first, only to catch the next hit square on the bridge of my nose.
Self-preservation kicks in, I withdraw. I am slowly wooed back into the lull of routine, of surprise pleasantries, the ease of lowered expectations.
I catch one in the teeth.

It's less domestic, more urban, I'd say: I'm in an abusive relationship with New York City.

I've been calling it love/hate but it's getting more complicated than that. Love/hate is surface and simple. There is a psychological cycle to abuse.

How can a city itself pummel you and beat you down? You'd only ask that if you haven't lived in a place like this. But I'm starting to suspect it's the effect of millions of people sharing the same resources- an age old problem, really. There's a whole hell of a lot of us living on this peninsula fighting for the same jobs, the same spot on the Downtown 6 train in the morning, the same men, the same taxis when it rains. And beyond resources, it's a place where Everyone Else's choices have a direct and definite impact on your own life.

I feel like I'm constantly battling to define, to carve out, to defend. And when everyone else is doing that, too, inevitably, there is a strain on resources and you win some, but you lose more.
It's why one of my roommates is about to have her fifth job since getting here last summer. It's why you can be running perfectly on time for work and with the decision of one train conductor who is "momentarily holding the train," be fifteen minutes late.
It's why you can go on six dates, but only really like the one who chooses not to call you back. Concerts sell out in minutes.
One woman decides she wants to watch CSPAN in the morning at the gym and changes the channel away from Reg and Kel.
It's why I can get hired full-time and have a great phone call with the President of the company, but then see Hugh Jackman at the batting cages over the weekend and remember that he makes a bazillion more dollars than I do.

Constant contact with humans equals constant comparison: I can love my outfit when I walk out the door and by the time I get to 77th, wish I were wearing my heeled boots instead because that girl looks SO CUTE.

It's exhausting. And just when I think I have things under control- a routine formed to keep my sanity- it implodes. All of a sudden, I'm working 50 hour weeks because of the needs of other humans and their choices to stay and work later affect MY time.

But as in any cycle, some days... some days the sun just feels so good on my face in the morning on my walk to the train, and it lights up the space between the buildings on the East River, you know?
Some days, the chocolate chip cookies at City Bakery are so melty, and so chewy, I can't be mad. Or like today, there was a spot for me on the train and it pulled in just as I swiped my card in the turnstile. And while everyone else in the office gets to be in Tahoe for a sales training, I had time to fill out my NCAA Basketball bracket. And even though someone else's choice affected me - that little blue text message light refused to shine on my phone, today - all it takes is one more victory than the loss column to make it worth it.
To want to stay.
To want to do better tomorrow.
To be willing to take one on the chin sometimes.

To get out of an abusive relationship requires a steeliness of one's will, a commitment of one's confidence. That's when you can look eye to eye and say, "You don't scare me anymore. I am better than this." and then take positive steps to reconstruct a better experience for yourself; to build a foundation that won't waver in the wake of whatever the day holds.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


The hype of Attention Defecit Disorder and its prevalence in my generation/beyond used to annoy me. There was no way all these kids were afflicted with the same issue - they just aren't disciplined enough to concentrate, I would think.

But now, I'm on board with the notion that it's a symptom of our byte-sized, Facebook status-compartmentalized, 140 character at a time, smart phone, smarter search, society. This is nothing new to the experts- it's just that I'm realizing I'm not immune to it.

I think it all started at my last job, where I was confronted with the sit-in-front-of-a-computer-for-8+-hours-a-day lifestyle. When you're staring at this screen, it's so easy to open more and more windows, to search for more and more things, to work on more and more at once... until you realize you've been Alt+Tabbing between windows for ten minutes, or logging back into Facebook for no apparent reason - kind of like that feeling where you walk into a room and forget what you went in there to get.

Thus, in the last few years it's been more of a struggle to enjoy reading a full book, and it takes a concerted effort to disconnect - the first few hours or days are anxiety ridden and I'm still jumpy, but then I adjust back to my natural state of unpluggedness.

This new job is also mostly computer based, and is faster paced- so the constant clicking, typing, searching, opening, responding, and scrolling gets to be a way of life, and not just actions at work. I also blame the overstimulation of New York City for this. It's been more pronounced here, for me- this inability to sit still or calm down or focus- so I'm trying to be more deliberate and thoughtful in my actions. Keeping a self-reflective record has always been important to me and since I apparently don't have the patience to do so with a pen these days, I feel like I need to recommit to doing it here.

I attempted Healthy February again this year: I made it to February 4th without a beer. Thanks, office. Being only human, there was really no way I could turn down Friday Afternoon Beer Pong in our break room. But physically, I rejoined a gym and have been diligent in going - so much so, that I shattered a false perception of myself and have rebranded this girl as a "morning person": if I sleep in my gym clothes and am in bed at a reasonable hour, turns out, I LOVE going to the gym before work.

Perks include:
-Being awake when I get to the office
-Already feeling productive, alert, and less sluggish
-Not having to split bathroom time with the roommates
- Fresh towels I don't have to clean, free Q-tips, razors, and body lotion
- Getting to catch Regis and Kelly's opening monologue while I get ready
-A 5 minute walk to work once I'm all ready, instead of a 10 minute dash to the subway->stuffy subway ride-> 5 minute dash to office as I sweat off my makeup and inevitably screw up my hair

And the best part? It frees up other time, which, as you can see by the following chart, is limited these days:

We'll spare you the "OMG YOU NEED TO WATCH THE WIRE IF YOU'VE NEVER SEEN IT IT'S THE BEST SHOW IN TELEVISION HISTORY" rant, as true as that all is, and just leave you with this important breakout:

Other non-sequiters:
- Went to DC for the first time a few weekends ago. Only had time to walk the entirety of The Mall (in the very windy, very sunshiney day, to pay my respects to the monuments Washington and Lincoln, as well as the WWII and Vietnam Memorials), get two great brunches, catch up with college friends, and explore the Newseum (which was fascinating and beautiful! A museum about news media!)

- Have succumbed to nail-polish mania. Get manicures once a week.

- Still miss home, but the sickness part of missing it has subsided somewhat. I've been shoveling sugar free fro-yo from 16 Handles into that empty spot - that, coupled with the knowledge that my mama and aunt will be in NYC for a week at the end of the month has helped considerably.

- Need book recommendations. Just ordered a Miranda July book of short stories at the suggestion of The Dance Fighter - anyone else??

And lastly, most importantly - I am so, so proud of my friends.
  • I've got a sorority sister skiing all 27 Colorado Ski Resorts in 8 days to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Please support her here: http://www.skibumpsfightlumps.org/index.html
  • I've got a best friend actually battling breast cancer at the age of 28. Even before her diagnosis, we were writing each other weekly emails ("The Tuesday Seven", wherein we'd include 7 random bullet points about our weeks without each other) that manage to either always make me laugh or cry, without fail. Usually both. Read about how she's kicking its ass in her witty, honest voice here.
  • The Dance Fighter moved to Amsterdam to pursue a dream. Another sorority sister is moving to London this fall. Gingerlocks just got hired full time at a production studio in Portland doing great work with clients like Nike.

  • These musicians are finding their voice and killin' it:

  • Ba and Mr.Ba's business is not only booming while they live here in the city, across the country from their offices, but Ba is working on starting another high-end custom line - this time, of home goods and linens.

    And if they aren't doing this stuff, specifically, they are getting into law schools, finishing up MBAs while they hold down other jobs, traveling for fun, volunteering abroad, and always sending me the best care packages I've ever heard of.

    I am just so impressed with you all, and am blessed to know you. Thanks for being alive and never settling.