Monday, February 25, 2013

The Key to Coping: Keeping Busy

  I'm sure whoever is still stopping by and reading this is sick of hearing about this, but it's cathartic for me, and since it's my blog, you're SOL.
    I've actually been doing all right overall. I think I had about two or three days in which I lost it a little bit, thinking about being alone and being dumped, but it didn't last all day on any of those days.
    My main anesthetic? Avoidance. Not denial, but avoidance. I have blocked his posts on Facebook. I have removed his contact and photos from my cell phone. I have disconnected myself from his projects for the most part, except for one. The exercise DVD program we had set up on a website is still mine to work with. Why? Because I was doing most of the work on it to begin with, so I figured instead of just throwing away all that hard work I've done over the past several months, I'm going to take over the website and completely reimagine it.
    I'm going to transform it into a broader health related blog, as I think one of its issues before was that it was too narrow a topic and there was not enough good information (i.e. new blog posts) to get people interested in the product. I'm a little concerned I may have bitten off more than I can chew--it's a pretty drastic change, and it will mean I'll have to be posting regular content (in addition to the other 4 blogs I write), but I think it'll be good. It's a new angle, it's going to be more women's health oriented, and it's going to be useful. Instead of just sharing what other people write articles about on Twitter, I'll have my own new articles to share.
    Since I'm not a doctor or a personal trainer or a dietician, I'm going to have to include some disclaimers and make sure that I use credible sources (i.e. not Web MD) for the posts I create, but I think it'll be good. And the best part about it is that I won't have to look at pictures of my ex all over the home page anymore. The DVD will still be included on the website because I don't feel right about removing it completely, but anything related to it, questions and any potential (albeit unlikely) sales that come through will go directly to his email. Only questions/comments relating to the new articles and content on the website will be my responsibility. I don't know whether it will pan out or not, but I'm hopeful.
     Beyond taking on this new project, I've been editing my new book. It's taken up a lot of my time, and there's still so much to do before I release it, so I've been trying to keep up with it all. I'm actually considering paying for some marketing solutions this time around. Partly because I am working now and I have a little bit of extra money to spend (not really, but I have more now than I did when I released the last book when I wasn't working), but also partly because I really want to have this book do well and if it's just up to me to do the marketing, hiring a little temporary contract help for a blog tour may not be such a terrible idea.
    The book itself is coming along well, though. I still have a few more rounds of revisions to get through, but this round has been a lot less painful because it's mostly mechanics and minor tweaks rather than rewrites and major cuts. However, figuring out these mechanics is no easy task. I'm relying on a gigantic textbook of the Chicago Manual of Style and it's not always straightforward where to find the correct usages. Despite how thick it is, I think it could use a better index.
    In any case, keeping so busy has also been helpful in terms of keeping my mind off things. I think in terms of grief over the loss of the relationship, I'm at the anger phase. Not wanting to see, speak, or even think about anything to do with him. Since we don't really have the same friends or even live in the same city, running into each other isn't much of a concern.
    As to the other phases, denial seemed to come and go pretty quickly. I'm not quite sure how the bargaining stage is supposed to play out since I have absolutely no intention of putting myself back into that situation, but I guess I'll find out in the days, weeks, or (I hope not) months to come. Mostly, I'm still trying to keep my head up, focus on what comes next, and hope that whatever happens will be better and I'll be better for it.
Idle hands and what-not.

Monday, February 18, 2013

An Attempt at Optimism

In sticking with my new attempt at optimism, I decided to make a list:

7 Reasons Why Breaking Up Doesn't Completely Suck

1) No more guilt over choosing to stay in instead of going out, e.g. to a party. This goes back to the whole I'm quiet, I'm an introvert thing. It's not bad to like to spend time alone. I'm not an outcast. Believe it or not, people like me. I just don't like going to parties or big social gatherings just to get out of the house. I like to know about things in advance. I have to feel up to going to a party. Sometimes, I have to mentally prepare myself for that kind of physical and mental stimulation, prepare myself to talk to people, set out guidelines for what I want to accomplish, or what I want to avoid, when I attend those kinds of gatherings. That's a concept that's very foreign to many non-introverts, but it makes a big difference as to whether I want to go out, and often, whether I can open up well enough to enjoy myself when I do go out.

2) No more techno. It may seem like a minor win, but techno kind of gives me a headache. It's just noise. Even worse than the heavy metal screaming kind of noise. The only thing worse than techno is country, and I would never go out with someone who was a wannabe cowboy/country music guy, so for me, techno is basically the bottom of the barrel.

3) No more unanswered/unreturned calls. That was a big frustration. And for 7 years, I got the same excuse: "I hate talking on the phone". Well, when you don't live together, and sometimes even when you do, the phone is the easiest way for a couple to speak to each other when they're not in the same house, let alone the same zip code. It may seem trivial, but those little things--how's your day, are we going out this weekend, how did this project or that test work out, etc.--matter in the long run. They show you care about what's going on in each other's lives even when you're not together in the same physical location. Especially when you don't see each other more than once a week, if that, keeping up the communication is important. You can't build any kind of relationship or intimacy without it.

4) I will save SO MUCH on gas. Also, it may seem petty and unimportant, but it's true. That long distance thing has cost me more money over the years than I care to think about.

5) No more religion. I admire religious people who are dedicated to their practice, whatever it may be, because I believe it's healthy to be a part of something that is bigger than yourself, to be a part of a community like that; it helps you improve yourself and feel better about yourself. However, I don't admire religious people who think they're better than you or who act like they know more about life, the universe and everything simply because they hit up the Sunday service or meditate for an hour a couple times a week. I'll respect your belief and your practice if you respect my carefully considered choice not to believe or practice the same thing.

6) No more sacrifices. I don't have to choose the dopey comedy over the Oscar-nominated film at the movies. I don't have to eat at Qdoba instead of Old Chicago's simply because it's cheaper. I don't have to give up a night of writing because it's the ONLY free time he has in his schedule. As much as I like to know and plan things ahead of time and as particular as I am about some things to the point of being a little OCD, I think I was extremely flexible the past few years when it came to this relationship. I made those choices because I thought spending time together was more important than my preferences when it came to dinner or a movie or whatever, and for the most part, I think that's true, but in retrospect, I think there should have been a little more compromising--more taking turns on those kinds of decisions, as trivial as they may seem.

7) No more drama. I try really hard not to make a mountain out of a molehill, but being a woman, it's kind of built-in, so I have to work even harder to keep a level head about things. I'm a philosophy major, so rationalism is also built in now, too, and it takes multiple offenses to get me to lose it. I knew who I was dealing with, so I didn't ask for more than I expected him to give. I didn't make any unreasonable requests, for gifts, dates, or anything else if I didn't think he could live up to it, and believe me, it's a hell of a lot less than most girlfriends would demand from their partners. The fact that so little was contributed even after setting such a low bar is the biggest reason this break-up doesn't completely suck.

In retrospect, this whole thing probably should have ended three years ago. Maybe it should have ended six years ago. But it didn't--we kept coming back. I thought it was for love, for finding someone we felt close enough to open up to, for a future, but now, maybe it was just laziness--not feeling up to exploring other options--and fear--of not finding someone you could be that comfortable with.

Still, now that I'm here, I'm not afraid. I may be a little nuts sometimes, but I'm awesome. I'm genuine, I'm interesting, and I know I'm worth more than a once a week visit. I also know I'm not lazy. I worked my ass off to make this last relationship work, and I will work my ass off to make the next one work, but next time, I'm going to be a little more judicious about when to push and when to let go. I stick. But now, I'm going to try to focus on sticking only when it truly seems worth my while.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Getting Back on the Horse

  It's been a rough week. Not only am I behind where I expected to be on my editing, but I'm getting that itch to write again, and it's really difficult to choose to finish editing one book instead of jumping into writing another one. As much as I enjoy editing most of the time, I am a storyteller at heart, and I still prefer to write.
   Aside from that, I've been dealing with some other stuff at home. I keep looking over my finances trying to figure out if I have the money to be able to move out any time soon. Unfortunately, I think I'm about $250 short on monthly income to be able to do that comfortably.
    I was feeling sick for a while there too, and it gave me an excuse to put a few things on the back burner, including the blogs.
    The biggest hit came last week. My relationship ended just shy of my 7 year anniversary. It threw a major wrench into my motivation, and most of the weekend was spent in pajamas with plenty of Netflix, Ally McBeal, and sugary food.
    Somehow, in spite of my sugar jones, I managed to stick to my calorie counting and I'm down 10 pounds since the New Year when I first started, which is amazing to me. I haven't been at this weight since high school and it's kind of incredible to think that I finally succeeded in coming this far.
    I didn't really want to talk about the split because I think it hasn't completely hit me. Much of the time we were together was spent communicating long-distance, so I'm used to not seeing him that often. I think what I felt above all was confusion: I didn't see it coming, and that was probably what caused the biggest shock and hurt. Every relationship has obstacles, but we've come so far over the past few years and we've worked through so many things in that time that I expected to be able to continue working through it.
    On the one hand, there's a part of me that would love to vilify him and shout it from the rooftops what a horrible, cowardly, lying two-faced a-hole he is, but I still haven't processed it and made up my mind about how I feel about it yet, so I don't want to be the petty or vengeful one. I would like to think I'm better than that, no matter how much pain it caused me.
    You should know this is a big improvement from how I felt Friday (when it happened). I was ready to sue for emotional damages--seriously. I wasn't expecting to get more than a couple video game consoles out it, but it seemed like a plausible idea at the time.
    At first, I had every intention of trying to stay friends. It seemed like such a strange idea to sever ties completely after 7 years, but the more I think about what happened, what he said and how it ended, I'm not sure I want to stay in touch. The worst part is that if we don't see each other anymore, I won't get to see his family either, whom I consider good people and good friends. I'm sure I'd still be welcome there, but I also feel like I might be looked at differently. Not as a villain or anything, but maybe a bit pathetic and or pitiful.
    As of now, several days later, I don't feel incredibly upset or angry, but I'm still a little confused and still a little unsure about things. I'm trying to take it one hour, sometimes one minute, at a time, and that's been helpful for me. It hasn't helped me get anything done, but it has kept me from losing my shit for the most part.
    I think overall, I feel hopeful. There were a lot of things that didn't always make sense in that relationship, things that fall into the "opposites attract" category. Now, I'm trying to focus on the future, on the possibilities, and to stay hopeful that I will find my way to better things. Career-wise and relationship-wise.
Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks.
-Tom Petty

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Of Tips and Tithing Part 2: What happened to "There's no such thing as bad publicity?"

  The tail end of this story is that Applebee's fired the waitress for posting the receipt with the note on it. The pastor complained to management that the "viral" photo had disparaged her reputation.
    Seriously? You do something like that in a public place and you don't expect somebody to talk about it? Tell their friends? Spit in your food next time? Not to mention, this is the 21st century--you can't say, do or write anything anymore without somebody putting it on the internet.
    To say it violated the pastor's privacy is a red herring. A sales receipt isn't a social security number or a bank statement--how many hands and eyes go over a receipt from the time it's printed to the time it gets filed away in the records? Furthermore, I can only assume that the receipt was the "merchant's copy" and not the "customer's copy", so I don't really think the pastor had any rights to privacy over what she submitted to the restaurant for its records.
    I'm not saying we should post everybody receipts online--though it would be an interesting study into how poorly people treat and tip service staff in this country--I'm just saying there are a few things about this particular case that push the limits of common decency.
    On a final note, I am surprised the pastor didn't get fired. If pastors have the cash to be going out to dinner and then having the gall to write something so condescending and nasty to the person who did nothing but wait on them and try to give them a pleasant evening out, they have no right calling themselves pastors or even Christians.
    It goes back to generosity, something I thought was a basic tenet of Christian teachings--something you can't really be lacking if you're going to get ordained as a pastor/minister/priest, etc. This woman who posted the receipt is a waitress, not an investment banker. She gets treated like crap by a dozen different people every day--all I'm saying is you'd think a pastor would have the decency to treat her with a little more kindness and graciousness rather than resorting to derision and hubris over a standard industry practice.
I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
-Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Of Tips and Tithing: Part 1

  You may have read about the waitress who posted her customer's receipt online after getting a cheeky note instead of a tip. Here's what's wrong with the whole situation.

The Thing about Tithing

  "I give God 10%," Bell wrote on the receipt, scratching out the automatic tip and scribbling in an emphatic "0" where the additional tip would be. "Why do you get 18?" (Yahoo News)
    First of all, I was unaware that tithing was still so prominent. Traditionally, dating all the way back to the Old Testament, good Jews and later Catholics, then Christians, were required to pay a tenth of their yearly income to God, aka the church. Over the years, since the Church split into so many denominations, I was under the impression that this was primarily a Catholic thing, but that might have just been my microcosmic worldview prejudice because I went to Catholic school for so many years.
    Apparently, it still lives on.
    The problem here is: who are you to be eating out and refusing to tip, calling on God as your excuse? Let me hash this out: a pastor doesn't make a ton of money that would go against the whole "worldly possessions" thing. But they apparently donate 10% of that income back to the church every year. AND they can afford to eat out with party of more than 8 people? I don't buy it. If you can afford to eat out, you can afford to tip. Simple as that. If you can't afford that extra 18-20% on your bill, stay home and eat Ramen. Period.
    Secondly, 10% of your yearly income is a LOT more than 18% on a bill at Applebee's. Not knowing anything about what pastors make, I have to assume they at least earn a salary that puts them at or above the poverty level in this country. They have to live somewhere. They have to drive to work. They have to eat. And, if the church doesn't pay taxes, I don't think their ministers and pastors would pay incomes taxes either. So, that's a goodly sum, presumably outright, of which 10% goes back to the church.
    Waitresses do not make minimum wage to put them at or above the poverty level for their yearly income. They need those tips to even things out and put their income at the appropriate level. The guys at Starbucks and Subway and those little fast food places that leave tip jars out--those guys make minimum wage. Most of them are part-time, so they appreciate the extra tips when they get them, but they don't rely on them. They're like a bonus.
    It doesn't work that way at a "sit-down" restaurant. The reason the 18% gratuity gets tacked onto large party bills is people tend to forget about the tip when the bill is so large to start. It's to protect the interests of the servers who are the ones who suffer if the tip is forgotten.
    Tithing is an outdated practice. There are far too many people in need of food, shelter and healthcare in this world to be giving 10% of your money to a church to build a new wing, erect a new statue, or pay for all those fancy robes the Pope wears. 
    If that money were going directly to build a soup kitchen, support a literacy program, or buy cots for a homeless shelter, that would be one thing. But it doesn't, and parishioners aren't always told where it does go.
    Check in soon for the follow-up and conclusion of why this whole thing is ridiculous.
He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.
-Sigmund Freud

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