Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Complete Turkey Day



Yesterday afternoon, while driving home from a doctor appointment through the heart of tree-lined suburbia, I saw a wild turkey bobbing alongside the road. What caught my eye was a guy in a suit with a Walkman on, standing in the rain, obviously just let off of a bus, staring at the turkey, who was actually in the middle of someone's driveway at the moment.



From what I've seen of turkeys not already heaped in the frozen poultry bin, this one appeared to be a female, and she was absolutely huge for something to be wandering around on a heavily trafficked road. Without considering why I was doing it, I pulled over to the side of the road and threw on my blinkers, so I could watch her peck at the ground in the soft rain. She was large, almost comical in her bobbleheaded manner, and so completely out of place, that I was overcome with a sense of protectiveness for her. What are you doing here? Where did you come from, giant bird?



I turned to catch the eye of the man who had originally been watching her, but he had by that time lost interest in her, and was attempting to cross the street and get home out of the rain. I didn't blame him, since he had no rain gear on and it was one of those rains that was just chilly enough to leave the exposed bits of skin feeling very uncomfortably cold, and which would've quietly soaked through that suit of his in a matter of minutes. Still, I felt disappointed that he didn't seem to share my enthusiasm for our common find, and went back to watching the bird.



After about a minute, she seemed to be bored with the lack of whatever she was pecking after on the front lawn, and decided to cross the street. I didn't know what to do with myself. All kinds of protective instincts swelled up, and in an instant I considered jumping out of my car to help the turkey cross safely (No, you'll either scare the bird into running right into a car or get run down yourself, silly) or blocking the intersection with my car (Are you NUTS all of a sudden?) or just sit in my car and hope for the best.



Sitting in the car and hoping for the best was the option by default, because without warning, my feathery friend hopped off the curb and started making her way across the street, in the misty rain, at dusk. I felt a lump in my throat and let out a little involuntary squeak of fear, when I noticed that the SUV in the southbound lane was not slowing down enough, and if it continued at the same rate of speed, there was going to be a horrible scene in front of me.



Luckily, even though turkeys are not known for their intellect, her instinct must have kicked in and Miss Turkey started hauling ass across the street, barely escaping the speeding grey SUV. Throwing my most evil glance at the driver, who looked back at me with surprised amusement at the sight of the turkey (oh GREAT, NOW someone wants to bond over seeing the turkey - her would-be murderer!), I looked over with great relief to see my friend strutting over into a small deserted park.



I drove across the street to marvel at her through my car window for a while longer, and then realized that I had to run a few errands and then meet J at home, so I finally left her there in the park, pecking away and thinking her little turkey thoughts.



One of my errands was to the liquor store, to see if they could order this rather hard to find liquor for my friend's birthday. I was amused to look past the clerk's shoulder and see a couple bottles of Wild Turkey on the shelf right behind him. He was a rather amiable fellow for a young twenty-something, so I decided to mention the turkey sighting to him, and he told me that his friend sees them in his backyard nearby all the time. Who knew? (I apologize to all the young twenty-somethings for that over-generalized slur, but more specifically I mean someone in that age group who works in a customer service capacity in the New York metropolitan area, a group which I can safely generalize does not exactly have a reputation for polite and helpful conversation...but I digress.)



When I got home, later than I expected, I quickly threw together some Easter leftovers together in the frying pan, and we sat down to eat in the living room, just in time for J and I to completely loose our appetites while watching Dubya's speech (or attempt at same) on television. Talk about a turkey who won't talk turkey.



Afterwards, as we discussed the spectacle, including the amount and depth of the wrinkles on Condaleeza's forehead while she looked on in horror, it suddenly occured to me (with no small amount of self-disgust) what the main ingredient of our dinner had been.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Hail to the Lunkhead in Chief



I am so incredibly incensed that we are still embroiled in the Stealing Their Oil/Finishing Up What Daddy Started War, it makes my teeth itch. Is it possible that someone competent, ANYONE competent, could take control of this thing and wrap it up, before there is any more loss of life, hostages, or increase in world hatred aimed at the U.S.?



I just started listening to Air America yesterday, after J. told me about it, and it got me all worked up about the mess that the current administration has gotten us into. I know, I don't talk about politics here very much, and I don't especially plan to become one of the endless list of pundits blogging about their political agenda or special interest group, but I sure as hell am glad that for a change, there really are people on the radio talking about topics in a manner with which I can agree.



The political right has been going on and on about how the media is controlled by liberals, and [insert mega conservative blowhard of your choice here] is the only voice of opposition...well, that is completely wrong. As Randi Rhodes was saying yesterday, "What liberal media??" It's the political right, the fundamentalist Christians in their back pockets, and the corporate shills who own everything and contribute to the political right's campaigns that are running the media, not the liberals. For a while there, I thought that J and I were some kind of radical fringe all by ourselves, because whenever we talked about the state of the world, we two were on the same page, but it was the opposite side of the page from what I read in the papers, saw on tv or heard on the radio. It felt like we were the only people in the world who thought the way we did. Until now, that is.



Back to the war for a moment - It just seems so clear what the real reasoning behind the beginning of this war was something like the following, only for now, let's not even get into whether that could have been prevented or if there was even a more sinister pre-awareness of those acts: "Terrorists attack the U.S.? Okay, let's use this as an excuse to go back and attack Saddam Hussein again. That would really make Dad happy and proud of me, right? Maybe he'll forget about all my coking and drinking in the past if I show him what a great leader I am. Oh, and the best part? After we overthrow the Hussein regime, we can steal the exclusive rights to the oil from Iraq! Oh, and I can give my buddies the exclusive contracts for the rebuilding the infrastructure after we bomb the living shit out of the country. (Let's not entertain those pesky notions of how Japan has risen as a major economic competitor to the U.S., since we bombed the shit out of them in WWII and then rebuilt their infrastructure, while ignoring the maintenance of our own in many respects.) We just have to make sure we go in, guns blazing, and protect the oil fields."



"Exit plan? We don't need no stinking exit plan! Help the people of Iraq? Oh, alright, only the very minimum in humanitarian aid, but make damn sure the cameras are on when you find an Iraqi who seems happy to see us. Oh, and don't bother guarding those museums, full of treasures dating back to the cradle of civilization. Tiger and who Rivers? Who cares what happened before 1776! Anything worth keeping is already in American museums, right? God Bless America! Screw the Rest of Y'all!"



God help us all.


Saturday, April 03, 2004

We



I acknowledge that J. and I are probably exceptionally eccentric and insecure people, and that has actually been a giant plus in the growth of our relationship. That sounds counter-intuitive, I'm sure, but consider this: Only one insecure eccentric throws the balance of the relationship so far askew as to sometimes make it impossible to continue, but two such creatures can speak openly about their flaws and insecurities (most of the time) and not have the sinking feeling that the other person will look at them like they are sprouting antennae. (Forgive me for insulting any extraterrestrial readers.)



Having said that, there are of course the nuances of accepting the other person for who they are, while at the same time getting one's own needs met. It's quite a balancing act, which I suppose most people are well aware of. Since I did not exactly set the romantic world on fire prior to meeting J., some of these relationship lessons are new to me. Okay, a lot of them are. It's been a bittersweet, terrifying and fantastic journey, so filled with "firsts", that it has been hard to remember them all.



But I do well remember the first kiss, the first time he stayed the night, the first time he put his arm around me in public, the first time he called me his girlfriend, the first time I told a man who wasn't a friend or relative that I loved him, the exchange of house keys, the first time we enjoyed a certain intimate act that I had never done before (no, I wasn't a virgin, but that is the end of the explanation!), the first Christmas card addressed to both of us, and on and on. Those are only the first ones that come to mind, and certain not the last ones we will experience, from the looks of things.



A subtle shift has taken place in my relationship with J., one that came on quiet little cat feet, and I didn't notice it. Not until it was pointed out to me by a friend.



When J. and I first started seeing each other, it was almost a chore to get him to make plans. Not that he didn't want to do things together, but it was sometimes like pulling teeth to get him to commit to being at a certain place at a certain time. At very first, I found this frustrating, but I realized that for whatever reason, this was his style, and if I wanted to spend time with him, I would have to approach planning things very cautiously. To that end, I would sometimes wait until events were very close at hand before mentioning them to him, so that he didn't get the deer in the headlights look. It was uncomfortable to watch The Look spread over his face, and see his pupils dilate into pools of fear, which said, "She is talking about something that is months away! She is trying to get me to commit to spending time with her at an event that is months away! Gaaaaaaa!" If it wasn't so trying, it would have been comical in its predictability.



Slowly, and I do mean slowly, it became possible to buy tickets to sporting events and concerts, months in advance, without as much of a panic coming over him. I guess the logical part of his brain said, "Listen, if you want those tickets, you are going to have to get them now. You could always wait until closer to the event to mention them to her. Say, just enough warning so she doesn't plan something that same day, but not too far in advance. Oh, but not now, because she might not be in the picture by the time this thing rolls around, and you don't want to be stuck trying to wiggle out of taking her to this thing if you guys are over, now do you?"



I can see the logic in this, surely, but it was a bit of a drag trying to get Mr. Cryptic to fully explain if the tickets he was babbling about were just some good luck for him, or if he was babbling about the event as a preamble to inviting me to it. What convoluted conversations we used to have!



J: "I, uh, got these tickets to see [fill in the blank]."



Me: (Not sure yet if I am just being informed that he will be busy that night, or if I am being invited to attend.) "Oh wow, that's great!"



J: "Yeah, it's on [fill in date], and the seats are [fill in degree of happiness about seat locations]."



Me: "That sounds really great. I'm happy for you." (Hello, did you notice I said "YOU"? Now's the time to correct me and say "US", if that's where you are going with this, boy.)



J: "Uh, it's a weeknight and it's at this place, blah, blah, blah, I'd have to leave work a little early, blah, blah, blah..."



Me: (Thinking: He's totally missed that hint. Please don't make me have to ASK you. I will feel humiliated if the answer is that you are going with someone else, even if it is only a brother or work buddy. I don't even want to consider that this is a DATE with SOMEONE ELSE that you might be TELLING ME ABOUT.)



J: Blah, blah, event, blah, blah, team/band, blah, blah.



Me: Appropriate yet neutral response. Still waiting for clue as to why he is telling me all this.



J: "Oh yeah! I had to tell you something about [fill in completely changed topic here]."



Days, weeks, maybe months later.



J: "I'm really looking forward to [event]."



Me: Bland reassurance that it will be a fun time.



More small talk about event follows.



J: (Finally, merciful God, a clue.) "Will you be able to get out of work early that night?"



Me: Blank look. "I guess I could. I wasn't sure that I was invited."



J: (Incredulous stare.) "Didn't I tell you that you were when I bought them??"



Me: "Actually, no, you didn't, and I didn't want to assume."



J: "Oh, uh, er." More stammering. "Oh, well, of course you are."



Me: Too exhausted to respond, but thinking that no, indeed, sometimes you go places with other people, so there is no "of course" involved yet here.



Repeat this whole process at least a half dozen times, insert occasional reminders to J. that I don't assume when he is talking about doing something that it means I am invited to them, that he must actually INVITE ME, stir, add cocktail onion. And viola', he finally starts actually saying the words, "I'd like you to go with me, if you are available." Hallelujah, he has seen the light!



I don't think any of this was done out of malice. I think it was just a quirk that he wasn't even aware of himself, and I was trying very hard to be patient and to use positive reinforcement every time he made concrete plans with me, so that eventually, it would seem natural and pleasant to invite me to things. It was a long process. So long, in fact, that I didn't notice when it ended.



A friend, with whom I had confided my frustration and confusion about this bit of miscommunication, recently made a comment that made me realize that shift I referred to before had taken place. I was mentioning an event I was planning, that isn't going to happen until near the end of the year, and she approvingly commented, "Wow, and he agreed to do something so far in advance?"



At first, I was rather taken aback and thought, of course he agreed to do it! Why wouldn't he be able to agree? It's not like it's that far away... uh, oh my GOD, that's right. It wasn't all that long ago that I would have agonized about how to present this event to him. How far in advance is close enough that he won't freak, but far enough that he won't have made plans for that night? How casual of a tone do I have to use so that he doesn't do the knee-jerk bolt from the scene from feeling pressured into saying yes? What are just the right opening words to bring this up? Can I think of a topic that I could segueway from to get to the part about the event... ad naseum. I actually used to go through that whole process each and every time. It was exhausting and crazy-making.



But from her comment, I suddenly realized that now, we plan things together all the time. Some things even far in advance. When we plan to go to places, it is a given that we will go to them together, until we specify that it is a girls' night out, or that he is going with such and such a buddy, or whatever. We invite each other to family gatherings without any fuss or drama whatsoever. And we drop by without calling, or let ourselves into each others' places if the other isn't home at the planned meeting time.



I almost cried when I realized that we had quietly become a "we". I'm part of a couple, not just the girl so-and-so is seeing. I never thought I'd be part of a "we", and it feels comfortable and natural and really, really good. He is worth the wait.




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