succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, December 02, 2010


One of the things I'm watching play itself out in my current relationship is my Mom's lack of emotional availability. It's hardly Mom's fault - as the child of an abusive alcoholic, you would form a hard little shell around yourself too. She and I have always had a friendly relationship. I enjoy spending time with her, talking with her. But as I've said before, I don't have a lot of strong memories of getting a lot of comfort* from her. She's friendly, but not particularly warm. Even as her kid, you can tell she's got you at arm's length.

I think (I hope!) that I manage to avoid duplicating that behavior with my friends. I feel extremely close and affectionate in my platonic relationships. But I can feel myself slipping into an old, negative emotional habit with my boyfriend. He makes eye contact from across the table, in that close, we're together kind of way that people do when they care a lot about each other. And I glance down and get uncomfortable.

Partially it's my own history - ten years of self-preservation by nursing a wicked independent streak. Keeping men at arm's length means it hurts less when they don't want to be your boyfriend. Or at least, so I nearly convinced myself.

But my family history plays a part too. I know all these things, can recognize them happening. And in my head, when the boy and I are apart, I get all warm and fuzzy with my scary, vulnerable, affectionate feelings. Now I need to get better at playing them out when he's actually right there in front of me.

*I have to say that one upside to this was her calm, detached reaction to my several childhood injuries. Sure, it would have been nice to dissolve into tears in a warm Mom hug whenever I hurt myself. But I think I was spared quite a bit of potential trauma by the fact that Mom never seemed even the slightest bit freaked out when I turned up bloody, bruised, or swollen. I had some pretty visually arresting mishaps as a kid too - managed to get a little plastic soldier stuck in my foot, dislocated a couple of fingers. And she was always unphazed.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The price of a dream job

I try not to complain. I realize how lucky I am. And I try to appreciate the good things - the meaningful work, the interesting problems, the flexibility and independence. And most days, the fun-to-shit ratio, as my father would say, is overwhelmingly in the right direction. And then there are days like today. Days when my boss is far away, in another country, several time zones away. And a partner is demanding urgent input from him before they will budge on a time-sensitive project. Days when co-workers seems incapable of managing deadlines. Days when all the shit seems to hit the fan at once, and apparently I am the only one with a rag.

On those days, the ratio is rather decidedly in the wrong direction. I know this is the part where I'm supposed to recognize that there are jobs where everyday is like that. But my average day at work is probably somewhere around a 7 or 8 out of 10 and today was a negative 5. So I'm going to pout and sulk and be grumpy about it. This is the tail end of an exhausting sprint and my tank is empty. I'm out of benefits of the doubt and lookings on the bright side. I'm just out.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I have to say, the outpouring of creative responses to our latest travel options (radiation vs. groping - I'm happy to report I dodged both on my most recent trips through airports) has almost (almost) renewed my faith in US citizens. Also, it's important to keep in mind that the poor TSA employees, while I'm sure a few are assholes (just like the rest of us), are merely the messengers for Homeland Security.


Not only do I write less here, I'm finding that I talk less out in the real world. Me. The kid whose friends' parents used to joke that they were looking for my off switch. Pretty much up through high school my mouth went nonstop, at a mile a minute. I even occasionally talk in my sleep!

So it's kind of weird to find myself growing quieter. In some ways, I think it's a good thing - I'm more reflective, and certainly not needing to share every single thought I have is an indication of me growing up, out growing (finally!) some of my little sister tendencies. And some of it is context - even though it's been 18 months, I'm still living in a new city with a new group of friends, who have their own common back story that doesn't include me.

But sometimes I don't like this new quieter me. I find myself considering my words, weighing all the background and context I would need to fill out to make some story make sense, and choosing instead to not say anything at all. That seems pretty out of character for me.

I know the old me is still in there - when Jess and I got together earlier this month her poor boyfriend could hardly get a word in between the two of us. And I still get animated and excited and start talking too loud about certain topics. But I'm finding those moments fewer and further between. And more shadowed in doubt in hindsight.

Sigh. Every time I settle somewhere new I have to start the process over again of living 'with the top off,' as Becky calls it. I have a tendency to tamp myself down, to take up less space, make more room for others. And I know, theoretically, that I'm in an ideal place to be as big and loud and excited about ideas and life in general as I truly am in my head. And yet...and yet. Here I am, growing quieter.

Happy Birthday to Me

Apparently BBC4 will be showing The Joy of Stats on my birthday!